United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joseph H. Rodriguez This matter is before the Court on
motions of Plaintiffs Charles and Elizabeth Hobbs, seeking to
strike several submissions of Defendants pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 fa) on the basis that Defendants'
attorney, Howard Kronberg, is ineligible to practice law in
the State of New Jersey. Plaintiffs seek, in the same motion,
an entry of default judgment in anticipation of a favorable
ruling on the Motion to Strike. In addition, Plaintiffs seek
to strike other submissions related to Defendants'
pending motions to dismiss. The Court has considered the
written submissions of the parties pursuant to L. R Civ. P.
78. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' Motion to
Strike and Motion for Default Judgment are
breach of contract action, Plaintiffs filed the operative
Complaint on May 27, 2017. Plaintiffs claim that
Defendants' refusal to properly adjust a homeowners'
insurance policy constitutes a breach of contract and bad
faith. Counsel for Defendants entered appearances on June 6,
2017. Among counsel appearing on behalf of Defendants is
Howard Kronberg, who continued to be the attorney of record
and the signatory on several filings with the Court,
including the Consent Order Extending Time to Respond to
Complaint and Request for Mediation. In addition, Mr.
Kronberg participated in an in-person conference with the
magistrate judge on August 3, 2017. Mr. Kronberg then filed
several documents relating to Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss and a Motion to Stay. Mr. Kronberg also appeared
during a Court telephone conference.
basis for Plaintiffs' motion to strike is the fact that
Mr. Kronberg's license to practice law in the state of
New Jersey is "administratively revoked" according
to the New Jersey Judiciary Court System. Given his
ineligible status, Plaintiffs argue that Defendants'
filings made by Mr. Kronberg must be stricken pursuant to
Rule 11. At issue here is whether the Court should strike the
responsive pleading, filed in the form of a Motion to Dismiss
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 (b).
Rule 11 provides in relevant part:
(a) Signature. Every pleading, written motion, and other
paper must be signed by at least one attorney of record in
the attorney's name-or by a party personally if the party
is unrepresented. The paper must state the signer's
address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unless a rule
or statute specifically states otherwise, a pleading need not
be verified or accompanied by an affidavit. The court must
strike an unsigned paper unless the omission is promptly
corrected after being called to the attorney's or
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 (a). The Court's Local Rule provides
in full: "In each case, the attorney of record who is a
member of the bar of this Court shall personally sign all
papers submitted to the Court or filed with the Clerk."
L. Civ. R. 11.1. Where counsel is admitted to practice in
another state, he may move for privileges to appear pro hac
vice pursuant to Local Civil Rule 101.1, with the limitation
that "only an attorney at law of this Court may file
papers, enter appearances for parties, sign stipulations, or
sign and receive payments on judgments, decrees or
orders." Loc. Civ. R. 101.1 (c). Thus, even under the
Local Rules, if Mr. Kronberg attempted to appear pro hac
vice, he remains ineligible to sign pleadings and the motion
to dismiss is defective.
Court has reviewed and accepts Mr. Kronberg's declaration
that he was mistaken as to the Court's Rules as applied
to his status to practice law in the State of New Jersey and
finds that his attempt to appear before this Court was not
motivated by improper intent or in an effort to mislead the
Court or Plaintiffs. See Dec. of Mohammed Sharif,
Exs. 10 (Kronberg Dec.) and 8 (Krebbs Dec). In this regard,
Mr. Kronberg's signature will be treated as inoperable
because he is not eligible to practice before this Court and
the filing will be considered as an unsigned document.
See Operating Engineers Local 13Q Health Benefit Fund v.
Rawson Plumbing. Inc.. 130 F.Supp.2d 1022, 1023 (E.D.
became aware of and brought Mr. Kronberg's ineligible
status to the attention of the Court on September 14, 2017.
See PI. Mot. To Strike, Cert, of Liberato P. Verderame, Exs.
C & D. Defendants promptly moved to cure the defective
pleading on September 19, 2017 by refiling the Motion to
Dismiss with an appropriate signature. Defendants' prompt
correction to the defective pleading is contemplated by Rule
11 (a) and counsels against the extreme sanction of striking
the pleading. United States v. Kramer. 757 F.Supp.
397, 409-10 (D.N.J. 1991) (Motions to strike are disfavored
and seldom granted.); see also Receivables Purchasing Co.
v. Eng'g & Prof 1 Servs.. Inc.. No. CIV 09-1339
GEB, 2010 WL 3488135, at *i-2 (D.N.J. Aug. 30, 2010).
Receivables Purchasing Co. v. Eng'g & Prof 1
Servs.. Inc.. the court considered whether to dismiss
the amended complaint because it was improperly signed by
plaintiffs counsel who was not admitted to practice in the
District of New Jersey. Id., No. CIV 09-1339 GEB,
2010 WL 3488135, at *i. The court noted that the plaintiffs
counsel moved for pro hac vice admission the day after the
defendant identified plaintiffs counsel's status.
Id. Once counsel was admitted in accordance with the
Local Rules, plaintiff re-filed the amended complaint. As a
result, the court denied the motion to strike "based
upon Plaintiffs counsel's non-prejudicial procedural
mistake[.]" Id.; compare Morrison v.
Phillips, No. CIV o6-8i2(JBS), 2008 WL 4308215, at *4
(D.N.J. Sept. 16, 2008) (striking opposition to a summary
judgment motion where attorney was given time to move for pro
hac vice admission and failed to promptly move, despite the
the defective motion to dismiss was promptly cured by
Defendants' counsel with no conceivable prejudice to
Plaintiffs. For this reason, Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike
and for Default Judgment [Dkt. No. 23], Plaintiffs'
Motion to Strike Defendants' Reply and Amended Motion to
Dismiss [Dkt. No. 30] are denied and Defendants' Cross
Motion to Dismiss or Extend and Opposition to Plaintiffs
Motion to Strike and for Default Judgment [Dkt. No. 29] is
granted and Defendnats' Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 18]
filed on August 18, 2017 is dismissed as moot in light of the
deficient signature and filing of the amended Motion to
Dismiss on September 19, 2017. As a result, the remaining
issues before the Court are those set forth in
Defendants' amended Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. No. 24]. An
appropriate Order shall issue.
 Plaintiffs' Motion for Default
Judgment is denied because even if Plaintiffs' are
successful on the Motion to Strike, the Motion for Default
Judgment is procedurally deficient pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
55 (a) because the Clerk has yet to enter default and, thus,
the motion is premature. In addition, in light of the