4B — May 15 - 28, 2015 — New Jersey — M id A tlantic

Real Estate Journal


N ew J ersey

By Jerry A. Nelson, Stark & Stark Landlord wins lawsuit due to good lease and procedures; Tenant barred from relitigating issues


controversy doctrine. The trial court agreed with the landlord and dismissed the complaint. The trial court found that all of the allegations of the current action were conclusively deter- mined in favor of the landlord in the prior action. The Appellate Division also agreed with the landlord and affirmed the trial court. The Appellate Division added that “the entire controversy doctrine embodies the principle that the adjudication of a legal contro- versy should occur in one litiga- tion in only one court’…and the entire controversy doctrine also “serves the purpose of providing finality and repose; prevention of needless litigation; avoid- ance of duplication; reduction of unnecessary burdens of time and expenses; elimination of conflicts, confusion and uncer- tainty; and basic fairness”. The Appellate Division then found that because the tenants had litigated the eminent domain issue, they were precluded from doing so again. For landlords, this decision il- lustrates that the entire contro- versy doctrine is a powerful tool in New Jersey and also shows the importance and value of preparing good leases and fol- lowing proper procedures, both before and during litigation. Although the decision does not reveal the lease or the consent judgment that were signed by the tenants, it is likely that both documents were properly prepared in order to persuade the court to grant the landlord summary judgment. And by quickly obtaining summary judgment, the landlord was able to make and save money. Do you have the lease and procedures you need to win a lease dispute? Further, should your lease and procedures be improved and updated to maximize your opportunities for recovery for a breach and minimize your risks of loss if you breach? Evaluating your legal issues and addressing them correctly, requires careful review on an individual basis. It is also vital to have coun- sel familiar with these issues for your commercial, retail, industrial and/or residential property needs. Jerry A. Nelson is a Share- holder andmember of Stark & Stark’s Business & Corpo- rate, Commercial, Retail and Industrial Real Estate and Real Estate, Zoning & Land Use Groups. n

he New Jersey Appel- late Division recently issued an unpublished

because they were litigated in a prior action in which the land- lord sought to collect past-due rents from the tenants. The case was affirmed on appeal. The case is important for landlords to ensure success- ful collection and protection against defaulting tenants, especially ones that try to file claims against landlords. This case involved a breach of a shopping center lease by tenants that failed to pay rent. The landlord filed a summary dispossess action seeking a judgment for possession against tenants due to their failure to

pay rent. The landlord then obtained a consent judgment pursuant to which tenants agreed to the entry of a judg- ment of possession, to vacate the premises, to make a pay- ment, and to surrender their security deposit. The tenants then vacated but failed to pay and the landlord filed a com- plaint in the Law Division. The tenants filed an answer alleging that an eminent do- main action caused the nul- lification of the lease and also asserted a counterclaim seek- ing the return of their security deposit and monetary claims.

The landlord moved for sum- mary judgment. The trial court granted the landlord’s motion and entered a judgment against the tenants. The tenants then filed an action against the landlord seeking damages in the Law Division. The allegations of the tenants included claims that the landlord breached the lease and committed fraud by failing to inform the tenants of a taking or condemnation. The landlord moved to dismiss the complaint arguing that it was barred by res judicata, col- lateral estoppel, and the entire

decision that shows that good leases and pr o c e - d u r e s c a n he l p l and - lords prevent problems as well as make a n d s a v e

Jerry Nelson

money. Rondell L. Thurman, Et Al vs. Lindenwold Center LLC., A-5364-12T4 (App. Div., March 9, 2015). The trial court dismissed claims of tenants


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