SPRING VALLEY EQUESTRIAN CENTER INC v. PEGGY FARLEY

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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

SPRING VALLEY EQUESTRIAN CENTER, INC., Plaintiff–Respondent, v. PEGGY A. FARLEY, Defendant–Appellant.

DOCKET NO. A–2137–12T4

-- December 05, 2013

Before Judges Koblitz and O'Connor. Peggy A. Farley, appellant pro se.   Respondent has not filed a brief.

Defendant Peggy Farley appeals from a judgment entered against her in the Law Division, Special Civil Part, in the amount of $6,685.20.   Defendant contends the judgment must be vacated because plaintiff, Spring Valley Equestrian Center, a corporation, was not represented by an attorney during the proceeding, as required by Rule 1:21–1(c).

As we conclude the judgment must be vacated, we need not reach the additional points raised by defendant in this appeal.

In this action, plaintiff alleges defendant breached the parties' horse boarding agreement.   Plaintiff had agreed to provide boarding services for defendant's horse in exchange for a monthly fee.   Defendant allegedly fell behind in the monthly payments and this lawsuit ensued.

When the complaint was originally filed, Charles McWhirter, the president of plaintiff, was named as the plaintiff.   At the outset of the trial, the complaint was amended to substitute Spring Valley Equestrian Center for Charles McWhirter as the named plaintiff.   McWhirter, however, who is not an attorney, continued to prosecute the action on behalf of plaintiff during the trial.   Defendant did not object to plaintiff appearing without an attorney.

Rule 1:21–1(c) provides that a business entity, other than a sole proprietorship, must be represented by an attorney authorized to practice law in this State.   We have held that, even where there has been a failure to object to a business entity appearing in court unrepresented by an attorney authorized to practice law as required by Rule 1:21–1(c), a judgment is voidable at the election of the adverse party.  Gobe Media Group, LLC v. Cisneros, 403 N.J.Super. 574, 577 (App.Div.2008).   As plaintiff was not represented by an attorney in accordance with Rule 1:21–1(c) and defendant, the adverse party, is requesting that the judgment be voided, we are constrained to vacate the judgment entered against her.

Reversed and remanded for a new trial.

PER CURIAM

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