The trial court committed error by failing to schedule oral argument concerning a contested motion for entry of final judgment in a tax foreclosure suit. The Appellate Division vacated the judgment for this reason.
The defendant, a sophisticated tax sale investor, opposed plaintiff’s motion for final judgment, saying it needed time to remediate environmental issues. A 5-month gap existed between the date that plaintiff filed its motion and the date the Court granted it. Defendant argued that it was deprived of its right to redeem the tax sale certificate because the Court never informed the parties of the hearing date of plaintiff’s motion.
The Appellate Division sided with the defendant for two principal reasons. First, a property owner has the right right to redeem the tax sale certificate up until final judgment is entered. Second, NJ Court Rule 1:6-2 requires oral argument to be held on substantive motions. The defendant had the right to know when the final judgment motion would be heard, the Appellate Division remarked. The Appellate Division further explained:
In these circumstances, the court should inform the parties of the return date of the motion. Granting oral argument would also inform the parties of the return date. . . We vacate final judgment because oral argument was not provided, nor a valid reason given to deny argument.
The case is Clarksboro, LLC v. Kronenberg, Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, Docket No. A-3572-17T4.
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