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Emigrant Mortgage Co., Inc. v. Lawrence

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

September 3, 2013

EMIGRANT MORTGAGE COMPANY, INC., Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
MERLA LAWRENCE, Defendant-Appellant, and STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Defendant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 5, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, General Equity Part, Essex County, F-1808-08.

Merla Lawrence, appellant pro se.

Richard A. Epstein, attorney for respondent.

Before Judges Lihotz and Ostrer.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Merla Lawrence appeals from the denial of her second motion to vacate the default judgment entered in a foreclosure proceeding relating to her property in South Orange. We affirm.

In 2005, defendant refinanced the mortgage on her home with the assistance of a mortgage broker, Darnell Davis, of Prime Time Mortgage. Through Davis, she was able to secure a loan from Emigrant Mortgage Company, Inc. (Emigrant).

At the closing on December 27, 2005, defendant executed a promissory note to Emigrant in the amount of $250, 000. It was an adjustable rate note, with the initial interest rate set at 10.875%, and the maximum interest rate not to exceed 16.875%. The loan was secured by a mortgage of the same date, in favor of Emigrant, on the property.

In September 2007, defendant defaulted on the terms of her promissory note. She sought assistance from a mortgage broker, Marilyn English, who in January 2008, corresponded with Emigrant's counsel on her behalf, requesting reinstatement and payoff figures for the mortgage, which Emigrant's counsel duly provided.

Meanwhile, in January 2008, Emigrant filed a foreclosure complaint, which was served on defendant on February 9, 2008. Defendant retained counsel, Jeffrey Dollinger, who communicated with Emigrant's counsel, requesting payoff and reinstatement figures, which Emigrant's counsel again provided.

Default was entered on April 15, 2008, as defendant had filed no response to the complaint. Emigrant's counsel mailed a copy of the request to enter default to defendant, and also forwarded a notice of intention to enter judgment, as to which defendant acknowledged receipt.

By letter dated July 23, 2008, defendant's new counsel, Lawrence Kalish, wrote to Emigrant's counsel and advised that he represented defendant in connection with the foreclosure proceeding. He requested "a copy of the latest payoff statement" as well as "a copy of the Complaint and all other pleadings and other correspondence relating to this matter, except the Request to Enter Default and Certification entered April 15, 2008, " which defendant ...


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