BALICE v AVS PROPERTIES, LLC: Tax Lien, Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Eviction
Snip of opinion…
Although the complaints at issue in this appeal are couched in terms of AVS’s unlawful invasion of plaintiff’s property rights, the true gist of plaintiff ‘s contention is a collateral attack against the sale of the Metuchen property that had been ordered by the federal court. As the federal judge aptly noted in his written opinion, “[a]lthough the complaint is brought against AVS, it actually says very little about any supposedly wrongful conduct by that entity. Rather, the alleged wrongdoing is attributed to the [United States] Government’s conduct in the underlying tax action in connection with its efforts to collect on Balice’s unpaid income tax liabilities.
“The Chancery judge reached the same conclusion. We note that plaintiff ‘s counsel at the November 7, 2019 hearing acknowledged that the gravamen of he complaints is that the Metuchen property should not have been sold at auction. Counsel argued the order to sell the property was made “under false pretenses.” The Chancery judge asked counsel, “You’re arguing that the federal district court erred in granting the order [to sell the property at public auction], right?” Counsel replied, “Fundamentally, yes.”
Relatedly, Balice’s testimony at the hearing focused on misconduct by United States government officials, not by AVS. Balice claimed, for example, IRS “forged liens” and the United States Attorney “hid evidence.” He also claimed at the hearing that, “The [United States District Court] judge is getting paid off from the IRS and press fund. He’s not going to do anything. He’s just trying to make some money.”
We do not doubt that plaintiff’s claims of government misconduct and corruption in the federal tax litigation, if true, would constitute both fraud in procurement of the judgment and a deprivation of due process. Those claims, however, were litigated and repeatedly rejected in federal courts—that is, the forum jurisdiction. In these circumstances, we do not read N.J.S.A. 2A:49A-27 to require the Chancery court to decide, for example, whether the IRS forged liens, the United States Attorney’s Office hid evidence, or the United States District Court judge was “paid off” by the IRS. We stress that plaintiff in his latest complaints made a strategic decision not to name federal government officials as defendants, naming only the entity that submitted the winning bid at the court-ordered public auction. We believe the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act does not contemplate that in these unusual circumstances, AVS should be expected to re-litigate plaintiff’s government conspiracy allegations in a state court proceeding to enforce the federal judgment. Accordingly, the complaints against AVS at issue in this appeal were properly dismissed.
To the extent we have not addressed them, any remaining arguments raised by plaintiff lacks sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).
Full Opinion below…