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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

GENERAL TRADING CO., INC., Plaintiff–Respondent, v. ANA TAVERAS, Defendant–Appellant.

DOCKET NO. A–0097–12T2

    Decided: March 26, 2014

Before Judges Maven and Hoffman.Ana Taveras, appellant pro se. Kaplan & Levenson, P.C., attorneys for respondent (Steven M. Kaplan, on the brief).

Defendant Ana Taveras appeals from the July 27, 2012 Law Division order granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff General Trading Company, Inc. (General Trading) and directing, among other things, that a New York judgment against defendant be entered and enforced in New Jersey, pursuant to the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 2A:49A–25 to –33.   We affirm.

The record discloses that in 2008, General Trading commenced an action in New York to set aside the transfer by Taveras's husband to her of a property interest on Campeau Road, Bergenfield.   Taveras, through counsel, answered the complaint and filed a cross-complaint.   General Trading then filed a motion for summary judgment, which Taveras opposed.

A New York court granted summary judgment in favor of General Trading on August 11, 2010.   General Trading subsequently moved to amend and/or correct the judgment, which Taveras opposed and filed a cross-motion to dismiss the litigation, among other things.   Following a December 2010 oral argument on those motions, a New York court granted an amended summary judgment in favor of General Trading on September 13, 2011, which replaced in its entirety the August 2011 judgment.   That court held Taveras had received a fraudulent conveyance of her husband's interest in the Bergenfield property, ordered that Taveras transfer that property interest to General Trading and execute any and all documents required to effect the transfer.   The judgment also authorized General Trading to take any action in New Jersey to effect the transfer.   Taveras did not appeal from the New York judgment.

When Taveras failed to transfer the property, General Trading filed a complaint in New Jersey in December 2011 to domesticate the New York judgment and enforce its terms pursuant to the Act. Thereafter, General Trading moved for summary judgment, which the court granted on July 27, 2012.   In relevant part, the court (1) directed the Clerk of the Superior Court to docket the New York judgment, (2) appointed a person to execute all documents necessary on behalf and in the name of Taveras to effect the legal transfer of the property interest to General Trading, and (3) declared and adjudged General Trading to be the rightful owner of the property interest.

This appeal followed in which Taveras seeks to vacate the grant of summary judgment and compel General Trading to release certain financial records that were purportedly subpoenaed in a different New York case involving these same parties.   To support reversal, Taveras argues the New York order directing her to transfer the property to General Trading was “a mistake” due to General Trading's failure to present “a legit accountant report” demonstrating that she owed General Trading any money.   She also asks this court to order General Trading to release all information related to the interests transferred in Taveras v. Gen. Trading Co., Inc., 901 N.Y.S.2d 263 (N.Y.App.Div.2010).   We have carefully considered Taveras's arguments in light of the record and applicable law, and conclude they are without merit.

Taveras makes a number of claims with respect to a New York corporation called 685 Food Corp. as well as statements regarding other financial matters.   However, Taveras fails to set forth arguments to explain the basis for our review.   Without a specific claim of error supported by record references and relevant law, we cannot properly consider an appeal.  Heyert v. Taddese, 431 N.J.Super. 388, 437 (App.Div.2013) (citing State v. Hild, 148 N.J.Super. 294, 296 (App.Div.1977) (holding parties have a duty to justify their positions by specific reference to legal authority.))   Consequently, we determine that any issues related to her purported claims are deemed waived and abandoned.   See Pressler & Verniero, Current N.J. Court Rules, comment 4 on R. 2:6–2 (2014);  see also Gormley v. Wood–El, 422 N.J.Super. 426, 437 n.3 (App.Div.2011), leave to appeal granted, 210 N.J. 25 (2012).

Next, it is clear that Taveras is dissatisfied with the New York judgment, and seeks to relitigate the merits of the dispute.   However, our ability to invalidate a judgment from a sister state is limited.

Under the Act, authenticated copies of foreign judgments are treated in the same manner as judgments of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  N.J.S.A. 2A:49A–27.   New Jersey courts will enforce judgments entered by the courts of sister states, unless there has been a denial of due process.  Sonntag Reporting Serv., Ltd. v. Ciccarelli, 374 N.J.Super. 533, 538 (App.Div.2005).   In Sonntag Reporting Service, we explained that a denial of due process occurs when “ ‘[t]he rendering state 1) lacked personal jurisdiction over the judgment debtor, 2) lacked subject matter jurisdiction, [or] 3) failed to provide the judgment debtor adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard.’ ”  Ibid. (quoting Choi v. Kim, 50 F.3d 244, 248 (3d Cir.1995)).   “[A]bsent such due process defenses, a litigation pursued to judgment in a sister state is conclusive of the rights of the parties in the courts of every state as though adjudicated therein.”  Ibid. (citing DeGroot, Kalliel, Traint & Conklin, P.C. v. Camarota, 169 N.J.Super. 338, 343 (App.Div.1979)).   Furthermore, pursuant to the doctrine of res judicata, a litigant is barred from raising any defenses that they could have raised in the forum state.   Sonntag Reporting Serv., supra, 374 N.J.Super. at 538.

Applying these principles here, we conclude Taveras has not asserted any due process violations to challenge this State's registration and enforcement of the New York judgment.   The record demonstrates that Taveras was represented by legal counsel during the New York litigation, and actively participated in the proceedings.   Moreover, Taveras did not appeal the judgments entered in New York, and its enforcement was properly sought.

The trial judge properly applied the provisions of the Act, recognizing the enforceability of the foreign judgment, and properly entered summary judgment.



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