Recently, in a lawsuit in New Jersey state court for breach of 177 contracts for sale, I obtained, on behalf of the seller, a plastics manufacturer in New Jersey, a final judgment by default against the buyer, an office products company, for compensatory damages of $247,691.46, plus prejudgment interest of $13,558.56, plus attorneys’ fees of $10,172.50 which the Superior Court previously had directed the defendant company to pay to my manufacturer client, but which the defendant had not paid, for a total judgment of $271,422.52.

The facts giving rise to this default judgment were as follows.

I was retained by a plastics manufacturer in New Jersey (the “plastics manufacturer,” the “manufacturer” or “my manufacturer client”) to recover about $247,000 owing, plus interest, under 177 contracts for sale between my manufacturer client as seller and an office products company (the “office products company,” the “defendant company,” or the “defendant”) as buyer.  On the manufacturer’s behalf, I brought and prosecuted, in New Jersey state court, a lawsuit against the office products company.

The defendant company supplies certain office products, including stackable plastic letter trays, to large retail chains such as Office Depot and OfficeMax.

I interviewed, at length, my manufacturer client’s chief executive officer (the “CEO”).  Further, I obtained from the manufacturer, and I reviewed, voluminous invoices, bills of lading, and packing lists constituting the contracts for sale.  My interviews of the manufacturer’s CEO, and my review of the relevant documents, tended to show as follows:

  • By a series of 179 purchase orders which the office products company placed with my manufacturer client and which my manufacturer client accepted, the defendant company agreed to pay the manufacturer for, and the manufacturer agreed to deliver to the defendant, thousands of stackable plastic letter trays and hundreds of class A wood pallets.
  • My manufacturer client timely manufactured the contracted-for stackable plastic letter trays, and delivered them to the office products company along with the contracted-for wood pallets.
  • The office products company had failed and refused to pay my manufacturer client for nearly all of the stackable plastic letter trays that my manufacturer client manufactured and delivered to the defendant company, and for nearly all of the wood pallets that the manufacturer delivered to the defendant.

On the manufacturer’s behalf, I drafted and filed a complaint stating, among other things, that the office products company breached the contracts for sale between the parties and violated the New Jersey Uniform Commercial Code (the “NJ UCC”).

In response, the defendant company, through counsel, filed baseless counterclaims asserting, for the first time, that it was my manufacturer client who — by supposedly manufacturing and delivering, to the defendant, numerous “defective” stackable letter trays which purportedly were not “in accordance with the specifications set forth by” the defendant — had breached the contracts for sale between the parties.

So as to require the office products company to substantiate its Counterclaims’ assertions that many of the stackable letter trays, manufactured and delivered by my client to the defendant company, were “defective,” I drew up on the manufacturer’s behalf, and served on the defendant, detailed interrogatories and document requests.

As to each of the 25 largest invoices from the manufacturer to the defendant company for stackable letter trays or pallets, the manufacturer’s interrogatories, drawn up by me, asked, among other queries, ‘Did the defendant company pay the invoice?’; and, if not, asked the defendant to identify the communications from the defendant to the manufacturer either rejecting stackable letter trays or pallets set forth on the invoice or asserting that stackable letter trays or pallets set forth on the invoice were defective in any way.

For over four months, the office products company, through counsel, failed to serve answers to my manufacturer client’s interrogatories and failed to produce any documents responsive to my manufacturer’s document requests.  As a result, I successfully moved, on the manufacturer’s behalf, for an Order dismissing, without prejudice, the office products company’s answer (to the complaint) and counterclaims.

In the six months after the Superior Court dismissed without prejudice, for failure to provide discovery, the office products manufacturer’s initial pleading, the defendant company, through its attorneys, continued to fail and refuse to produce, to my manufacturer client, any of the discovery sought by the manufacturer.  Further, the defendant company unilaterally cancelled at the eleventh hour, and refused to appear on any rescheduled date for, Court-ordered mediation of the parties’ dispute.

As a result, I successfully moved, on my manufacturer client’s behalf, for an Order (i) dismissing, with prejudice, the office products company’s answer (to the complaint) and counterclaims, (ii) directing the Clerk to enter a default on the docket against the defendant company, (iii) “because of [the defendant company’s] failure to participate in Court-mandated mediation in good faith and with a sense of urgency,” directing the defendant company to pay, to the manufacturer, attorneys’ fees incurred by the manufacturer in connection with the mediation process in the amount of $10,172.50.

In the several months after the Superior Court dismissed with prejudice, for failure to provide discovery, the office products company’s initial pleading and after the Clerk entered a default against the defendant company, the office products company did not move to vacate the Clerk’s entry of default.  Further, in those same several months, the defendant company failed and refused to pay, to my manufacturer client, the attorneys’ fees of $10,172.50 which the Court’s Order directed the defendant to pay.

Consequently, I successfully moved, on behalf of the plastics manufacturer, for the above-mentioned, final judgment by default against the the office products company.  As stated, the Superior Court’s final judgment by default awarded, to my manufacturer client, compensatory damages of $247,691.46, plus prejudgment interest of $13,558.56, plus the attorneys’ fees of $10,172.50 which the Superior Court previously had directed the defendant company to pay to my manufacturer client, but which the defendant had not paid, for a total judgment of $271,422.52.

If your company wants to bring, or needs a lawyer to defend it in, business litigation and you are located in the New York City area, call Attorney David S. Rich at (212) 209-3972.

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