Argued: December 16, 2014.
Approved for Publication May 8, 2015.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. L-5518-11.
Jeff Thakker argued the cause for appellant.
Nicola G. Suglia argued the cause for respondent (Fleischer, Fleischer & Suglia, attorneys; Jaclyn Scarduzio Dopke, on the brief).
Before Judges Messano, Ostrer and Hayden. The opinion of the court was delivered by HAYDEN, J.A.D.
[440 N.J.Super. 380] HAYDEN, J.A.D.
In this case we consider the effect of N.J.S.A. 34:11-31 and -32 on a levy, pursuant to a writ of execution, of a debtor's bank account, which purportedly was used to pay employees' wages. Defendant ABC Caging Fulfillment (ABC) appeals from
the December 6, 2013 Law Division order granting plaintiff Pitney Bowes Bank's (Pitney Bowes) motion for reconsideration. Having considered ABC's contentions in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.
We discern the following facts from the record. This dispute arises out of a civil complaint filed by Pitney Bowes, which claimed that ABC had breached a purchase agreement. In its complaint, Pitney Bowes alleged that ABC failed to make the required payments and, thus, defaulted under the terms of the agreement. The trial court struck ABC's answer with prejudice due to ABC's [440 N.J.Super. 381] failure to respond to discovery requests. Thereafter, on July 12, 2013, the trial court entered a default judgment in favor of Pitney Bowes in the amount of $69,315.59.
On September 6, 2013, the Ocean County Sheriff levied ABC's Shore Community Bank account containing $30,455 pursuant to a writ of execution. The Sheriff sent ABC a notice of the levy on the same day. On September 12, 2013, Pitney Bowes moved for an order requiring the bank to turn over the levied funds. In its opposition, ABC argued that the funds in the bank account were exempt as unpaid wages under N.J.S.A. 34:11-31 and -32.
ABC's president, Patsy O'Brien, certified that the levied account was ABC's " payroll account" and its contents were used to pay employees' wages. O'Brien stated that approximately $10,000 was due and owing to employees at the time of the levy. As a result of the levy freezing the payroll funds, O'Brien paid the employees' wages using her own personal funds. During the month that Pitney Bowes's ...