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New Jersey Defensive driving courses

February 22, 2011 5 comments

Defensive driving courses

Most road accidents are caused by driver error. To reduce the likelihood of being involved in an accident you need to understand the concept of “defensive driving.” This course will provide you with standard accident-preventing techniques.

Upon completion of the defensive driving course:

  • Two points will be removed* from the accumulated points you currently have on your license
  • You may also qualify for an insurance rate reduction (contact your insurance agent for more information)

*Point credits for state-approved, New Jersey defensive driving course curriculum only. Check with course providers before registering.

See a list of state-approved defensive driving courses below or take an online course.

Approved classroom course providers
State-approved defensive driving course providers are listed in a random order for customers to select a school which best suits their needs.

School Address Contact Telephone
AAA – South Jersey 700 Laurel Oak Road
P.O. Box 1953
Voorhees, NJ 08043-9053
Arlene Nastarowicz 856-783-4222
A-1 Peck/Sears Driving School 366 Route 46 East
Mine Hill, NJ 07803
James Peck 1-800-822-7640
AARP
Driver Safety Program
358 W. Dewey Ave
Roxbury Twp.
Wharton, NJ 07885
Patricia Davenport 1-888-227-7669
American Safety Institute, Inc. 9009 Mahan Drive
Suite 501
Tallahassee, FL 32309
Danielle Peterson 1-800-800-7121
Avanti Industries LLC 11D Brookside Heights
Wanaque, NJ 07465
Walter Mann 973-650-2375
Aware Driver Course 304 Park Avenue South, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Gary Alexander 800-660-8908
Comedy Defensive Driving School 208 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608
Inquire with rep. 1-800-356-9705
Defensive Driving Course, Inc. 430 Watchung Ave. Plainfield, NJ 07060 Alison Abdelaziz 908-577-0281 or
908-668-1717
The Driving Center 390 Amwell Rd., Bldg. 3 Suite 301 & 302
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Michael N. Ferrara (908) 281-3876
Driving Dynamics 54 Birch Ave
Little Silver, NJ 07739
Paul Hubbard President 732-219-0404
Driving School
Association of NJ, Inc
2561 Yardville-Hamilton Square Road
Hamilton, NJ 08690
Dan Gaskill
President
609-586-4944
DTA Program for Driver Improvement Driver Training Association, Inc. 433 Broadway – Suite 202 Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 Bill Crounse 1-800-243-2196
Garden State Safety Council 176 Terry Road
Smithtown, NY 11787
William Bonds
Director
1-800-565-4699
Gold Cross Safety Corp. 508 Main Street
Boonton, NJ 07005
Daniel P. Lanktree 973-402-8910
I Drive Safely 294 La Moree Rd.
San Marcos, CA 92078
Customer Service 800-723-1955
The NJ Motorcycle Safety Program, Experienced Rider Course NJ Ride Safe
www.NJridesafe.org
NTSI 201 Edward Curry Ave
Suite 206
Staten Island, NY 10314
Rosemary DeFresco 718-720-6868
New Jersey Safety Program, Inc. 105 Idolstone Lane
Aberdeen, NJ 07747
Sharon Medoro 1-800-386-6562
New Jersey State Safety Council 6 Commerce Drive
Cranford, NJ 07016
Susan Rohoman 908-272-7712
USA Training Company, Inc. 1194 Hyland Blvd.
Staten Island, NY 10305
Gregg Silberman
State Coordinator
917-208-1910
AAA – North Jersey Auto Club 418 Hamburg Turnpike
Wayne, NJ 07474
Dayna Bonazzi 973-956-2201
AAA – New Jersey Auto Club 1 Hanover Road
Florham Park, NJ 07932
Judy Demby 973-245-4860
AAA Mid-Atlantic 700 Horizon Drive
Hamilton, NJ 08691
Inquire with rep 800-374-9806
Last updated: January 20, 2011


Approved online course providers

State-approved defensive driving course providers are listed in a random order. Web site links are provided as a service for customers to select a school which best suits their needs.
Online Course Contact (e-mail)
A+ Comedy Defensive Driving Course,
by Traffic Safety Consultants, Inc.
www.comedydefensivedrivingcourse.com
info@newjerseyonlinetrafficschool.com
U.S. Interactive
www.edriving.com
customerservice@edriving.com
TrafficSchoolOnline.com
www.TrafficSchoolOnline.com
info@TrafficSchoolOnline
A Comedy Defensive Driving Course,
by Improv www.MyImprov.com
support@MyImprov.com
American Safety Council
www.safemotorist.com
NJInfo@SafeMotorist.com
American Safety Institute, Inc.
www.njinsurancereduction.com
danielle@americansafetyinstitute.com
Driving University
www.drivinguniversity.com
support@drivinguniversity.com
Fast and Stress Free Traffic School
www.fastandstressfreetrafficschool.com
support@fastandstressfreetrafficschool.com
Garden State Safety Council www.GardenStateSafetyCouncil.com ADellasso@gmail.com
GoToTrafficSchool.com www.GoToTrafficSchool.com info@gototrafficschool.com
I Drive Safely
www.idrivesafely.com
mature.idrivesafely.com
support@idrivesafely.com
National Safety Council
www.ddcnsc.org/NJ
Help@SafetyServe.com
National Traffic Safety Institute (NTSI) www.ntsi.com ntsinj@ntsi.com
TrafficSchoolOnline.com
www.TrafficSchoolOnline.com
info@TrafficSchoolOnline
A Better New Jersey Online Defensive Driving School
www.NewJerseyStateDriver.com
contact@gardenstatedriver.com
AARP
www.aarpdriversafety.org
drive@aarp.org
A & A Safe2Drive
www.safe2drive.com
support@Safe2Drive.com
Last updated: January 21, 2011
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Internet Domain Name Theft Conviction May Be First in U.S.

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Internet Domain Name Theft Conviction May Be First in U.S.

By Mary Pat Gallagher

New Jersey Law Journal

December 14, 2010

In what prosecutors are calling the first U.S. conviction for theft of an Internet domain name, a Union Township, N.J., man pleaded guilty Monday to stealing a web address and selling it on eBay to an innocent buyer: former professional basketball player Mark Madsen.

Daniel Goncalves admitted to Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim that he stole the address, http://www.p2p.com, in 2006 by hacking into the account files on the website of GoDaddy, an authorized domain name registrar, and altering the registration information to transfer ownership of the domain to himself.

He pleaded guilty to unlawful taking, theft by deception and computer theft crimes — all second-degree offenses that each could have brought him 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. He will be sentenced in May, with the state recommending five years plus restitution.

Goncalves still faces civil liability for the theft in a suit by the site owners pending in federal court.

The stolen P2P address was short and easy to use, making it well-suited as a site for peer-to-peer file sharing: an increasingly popular form of online networking that allows easy transfer of files among multiple users. Napster was an example.

Goncalves’ listing of the site on eBay caught the eye of Madsen, then a professional basketball player for the Minnesota Timberwolves with a sideline of buying up potentially desirable domain names in the hope that he could turn around and sell them for a profit.

Unaware it was stolen, Madsen paid $111,211 for the site and still had it when the original owners sued him, along with Goncalves, in federal court in Newark on Nov. 16, 2007.

That suit was pending when, in May 2009, Goncalves was arrested by the State Police Cyber Crimes Unit based on an investigation that began the previous October when the site’s owner, P2P.com LLC, reported the domain theft. A state grand jury indicted him on Nov. 16, 2009, on seven counts. In addition to the three he pleaded to on Monday, he was charged with second-degree identity theft and three fourth-degree counts of falsifying records by sending phony e-mails to create the appearance he had bought the domain from P2P for $5,000.

Meanwhile, last July 9, Chief U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown Jr. in Trenton administratively terminated the civil suit, P2P.com LLC v. Goncalves, 07-cv-5449, pending the outcome of the criminal matter. George McCarter of McCarter & Higgins in Red Bank, who represents P2P.com, says he will quickly notify Brown that the criminal case is resolved and ask that the civil case be restored to the active docket.

The nine-count complaint, filed by P2P.com and Freedom United LC, both Florida companies, accuses Goncalves and his company, EliteHost LLC, of hijacking and selling three web addresses: the P2P.com site as well as drugoverdose.com and profreedom.com. It includes claims against Goncalves for racketeering, fraud and violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and against both Goncalves and Madsen for tortious interference, conversion and trespass to chattels.

The plaintiffs claim that when they learned the P2P address had been swiped and demanded its immediate return, Goncalves responded that he had bought it from P2P while Madsen, through his lawyer, also claimed to be the rightful owner. Madsen denied knowing that he was buying stolen property and counterclaimed against the plaintiffs for malicious use of process and tortious interference. He also cross-claimed against Goncalves for breach of contract, fraud and indemnification.

Madsen was let out of the case in April after he settled with the plaintiffs, returning the domain name to them and assigning them his claims against Goncalves. Madsen will share in any recovery based on a graduated scale, says his lawyer, Keith Miller of Robinson, Wettre & Miller in Newark. Miller describes Madsen as “completely hoodwinked” by Goncalves and says the suit “became a major distraction” that he “didn’t want to be in the middle of.”

Madsen’s basketball career included three years with the Los Angeles Lakers, from 2000 to 2003, during which the team won two NBA championships, and four years as a college player at Stanford University. He served as an assistant coach for the Utah Flash and is now at Stanford University pursuing an MBA.

Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Sharpe was the prosecutor. Rachel Goemaat, a spokeswoman for the Division of Criminal Justice, says Goncalves’ is the country’s first known conviction for domain name theft but declines to comment on the plea or on why the civil case alleges three stolen sites when criminal charges were lodged as to only one.

Goncalves’ criminal defense attorney, John Young Jr. of Willis & Young in Jersey City, says Goncalves, 26, is a “nice kid” but “nice people sometimes do stupid things.” Noting that Goncalves had a web-hosting company, Young thinks taking the address “started off as a challenge in his mind to see if he could do it” but got out of control.

Goncalves’ civil lawyer, Michael D’Aquanni of Springfield’s Roth D’Aquanni, could not be reached for comment.

 

Anti-Robo-Signing Strictures Adopted For N.J. Residential Foreclosures

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Anti-Robo-Signing Strictures Adopted For N.J. Residential Foreclosures

By David Gialanella

New Jersey Law Journal

December 20, 2010

The state judiciary on Monday announced a set of measures in reaction to the “robo-signing” scandal in residential mortgage foreclosures.

Based on documented accounts of lending institutions rubber-stamping foreclosure paperwork, the court entered an administrative order directing lenders to show that there are no irregularities in their review processes.

The Supreme Court also adopted emergent rule changes that put the onus on lenders’ attorneys to police their clients’ practices. An attorney representing a foreclosing lender must now file an affidavit or certification confirming the attorney has communicated with a lender’s employees who confirmed the accuracy of the documents; to submit the names of those employees; and to file an affidavit or certification confirming that the filings comply with Rule 1:4-8(a), which mandates that attorney-filed papers have evidentiary support.

 

In a teleconference with reporters on Monday, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said the additional obligations imposed on attorneys are consistent with existing foreclosure practice. “I would expect that attorneys will be able to comply with this,” he said.

Rabner said he took this action after reviewing a Nov. 4 report by Legal Services of New Jersey and a Nov. 16 report by a congressional oversight panel. Both found that lenders have been signing off on documents in support of foreclosure requests that they haven’t verified, a problem precipitated by lenders’ employees asked to sign stacks of affidavits without looking at the underlying papers.

In the administrative order, Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Glenn Grant singles out six of the state’s most prominent mortgage lenders as allegedly participating in robo-signing activities: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citi Residential, Ally Financial, OneWest Bank and Wells Fargo.

Grant listed specific instances of suspect verification practices by employees of those six lenders, including:

• A JPMorgan Chase employee whose eight-person team executed about 18,000 affidavits per month, none of which she reviewed before signing.

• A Citi employee who signed documents without review, had no industry experience and “could not even explain what precisely an assignment of mortgage accomplishes.”

• A OneWest Bank employee who executed 750 documents per week, spending no more than thirty seconds to examine each one.

• A Wells Fargo manager who signed 300 to 500 documents over a two-hour period each day. Managers who held her position were authorized to sign as “vice president of loan documentation” for purposes of executing the documents, but weren’t company officers in any other respect.

Grant also directed 24 other lenders, which each filed 200 or more New Jersey residential foreclosure actions in 2010, to demonstrate within 45 days that their foreclosure processes contain no irregularities.

A third prong of the judiciary’s plan, issued by Mercer County General Equity Judge Mary Jacobson ordered that the six lenders show why their processing of New Jersey foreclosure matters should not be suspended as a result of their implication in the robo-signing practices.

Those companies were ordered to make submissions by Jan. 19, when Jacobson will hold a hearing. As head of the Administrative Office of the Courts’ Office of Foreclosure, Jacobson is responsible for reviewing all foreclosure complaints.

Retired Union County Superior Court Assignment Judge Walter Barisonek was recalled on Monday to serve as a special master in charge of receiving the lenders’ submissions explaining their processes, beginning on Jan. 3. Barisonek will review those submissions, request testimony or other additional information, and decide whether to refer any of the lenders to Jacobson for further review.

Together, the 30 lenders named account for 75 percent of New Jersey foreclosure actions in 2010, Rabner said.

Ninety-four percent of the state’s foreclosure cases “proceed in the absence of any meaningful adversarial proceeding,” Grant said in the order.

“The significance of this disparity is even more striking because many of the contested proceedings are defended pro se,” Grant said. “Because these actions frequently lack an aggressive defense, the Office of Foreclosure and our General Equity judges are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that justice is done for absent and pro se parties.”

Grant’s order said the alleged practices have the potential to call into question the validity of affidavits, certifications and other documents, as well as the integrity of foreclosure records, the judicial system and titles passed through purchase at foreclosure sales.

The New York state judiciary recently began requiring attorneys to make filings similar to those mandated in the New Jersey rule amendments, and attorneys general in at least four states and the District of Columbia have dictated such requirements, Grant said in his order.

E. Robert Levy of Levy & Watkinson in Woodbridge, executive director of the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey, says the judiciary’s goals are “laudable,” but could have an unintended impact.

“When you issue a blanket order … the effect of that is the costs for consumers seeking loans generally will go up,” Levy says. “The slower the process in getting back your money [through foreclosure proceedings], the slower the process in getting money back out there [to lend].”

Levy is “also somewhat concerned from a lawyer standpoint,” he says, adding that he expects attorneys will be held to a high level of due diligence when certifying in court that their client-lenders’ employees have sufficiently reviewed foreclosure documents before signing off on them.

In the 2006 court year, plaintiffs filed 21,752 foreclosure actions; the number swelled to 65,222 in the 2010 court year.

Protracted Prosecutorial Probe Into Death Tolls Tort Claims Notice Date

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Protracted Prosecutorial Probe Into Death Tolls Tort Claims Notice Date

By Michael Booth

New Jersey Law Journal

December 8, 2010

An East Orange woman who waited more than a year to file a notice of claim against municipal police and a state hospital over her father’s death will be allowed to proceed despite the Tort Claims Act’s 90-day limitations period.

An Appellate Division panel ruled Tuesday that the delay was the result of extraordinary circumstances, namely, waiting for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office to complete its investigation into the man’s death.

The plaintiff, Lavonne Johnson, is the administrator of the estate of Danny Garry, who died on July 24, 2008, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, two days after the car in which he was a passenger was struck by an East Orange police car responding to an emergency call.

Johnson learned from her aunt that day that her father had died but did not know all of the facts behind what caused the death. She first went to the East Orange police, who told her that Garry’s death was being investigated by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Eventually she was questioned by Det. Howard Johnson of the prosecutor’s office, who indicated in his questions that investigators were looking into the possibility that Garry’s death might have been caused by his girlfriend pushing him down a flight of steps.

The detective said he could not discuss the case with her any further and provided no additional information.

On June 9, 2009, the detective told Johnson the report into Garry’s death was complete and that if she wanted to review it she should retain an attorney. Johnson did so and the attorney, Ronald Ricci, filed a request for the report shortly thereafter. The prosecutor’s office released the report to Ricci on Sept. 9, 2009.

The report said the car in which Garry was riding was struck by an East Orange police car on July 22, 2008, and that Garry was treated and released from University Hospital. Johnson had been told by her aunt that Garry might have died at East Orange General Hospital.

Garry had difficulty walking after being released and returned to University Hospital on July 24. He died that day from complications of a ruptured spleen that had gone undetected.

On Oct. 1, 2009, Ricci asked for permission to file a late notice of claim. Essex County Superior Court Judge Claude Coleman denied the request, saying Johnson was aware of her father’s accident, that she should have exercised reasonable diligence in trying to find out the circumstances behind the accident, and that there were no extraordinary circumstances to warrant filing a late claim. Johnson then appealed.

Appellate Division Judges Anthony Parrillo and Joseph Yannotti, in Johnson v. East Orange Police Department, A-1793-09, said Johnson did act reasonably and allowed her to file a late notice of claim against the police department and the hospital.

“We are convinced that the trial court erred by refusing to permit plaintiff to file a late notice of claim…” the judges said. “In our view, plaintiff acted with reasonable diligence in endeavoring to obtain relevant facts about the accident.”

It was not until her attorney obtained the report that she learned that the East Orange police were involved and that there could be a claim, and that her father had been treated and released from University Hospital, they said.

“Plaintiff acted reasonably in waiting for the completion of the ECPO’s investigation before retaining an attorney,” Parrillo and Yannotti said. “We are therefore convinced that, under the circumstances, the discovery rule tolled the time for accrual of any claims plaintiff may have against defendants.”

Ricci, of Woodland Park’s Ricci & Fava, was away from his office and could not be reached for comment. Assistant East Orange Corporation Counsel Kevin Harris did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Lee Moore, a spokesman for the Division of Law, which represented UMDNJ, said officials there would not comment because the matter is still being litigated.

More Diligence Required in Seeking Out-of-State Heir in Foreclosure Suit

December 5, 2010 1 comment

More Diligence Required in Seeking Out-of-State Heir in Foreclosure Suit By Charles Toutant New Jersey Law Journal December 1, 2010 A default judgment for tax foreclosure was void because the plaintiff failed to locate and serve the deceased homeowner’s out-of-state heir, the Appellate Division ruled Wednesday. The case, Fidelity Asset Management, LLC v. Faine, A-1485-09, was remanded to determine if the owner of a tax sale certificate diligently tried to find the heir, whether service by publication in a New Jersey newspaper gave adequate notice to the out-of-state heir and whether mail service on one heir is adequate for another heir at the same address. New Jersey Home Construction Inc. brought a foreclosure action in December 2006 against a home in Cinnaminson for which it held the tax sale certificate. The certificate was later sold to another company, Fidelity Asset Management, which took over as plaintiff. The redemption amount on the certificate was $19,025 plus $1,180 in costs. The homeowner, Mary Faine, died intestate in 2002. The foreclosure complaint named Faine and Toni Fleming, described as “a known heir.” The complaint also included Faine’s “heirs, devisees, and personal representatives” or “any of their successors in right, title and interest” because the plaintiff alleged it “has been unable to determine her heirs.” In May 2007, Anthony Johns and Barbara Hawkins, described as known heirs of Faine, were added as defendants after the plaintiff’s attorney, Cherry Hill solo I. Dominic Simeone, learned from the Cinnaminson tax collector that they are Faine’s grandson and daughter. On Jan. 2, 2008, Burlington County Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan entered a final judgment of foreclosure against all the defendants. On Jan. 18, an order precluding transfer was entered after a motion was filed to vacate the foreclosure judgment. The order was entered by Johns; Hawkins; Hiram Johnson, a family friend who was looking after Faine’s house; and Mallonease Scott, Faine’s other daughter. The motion contended that Scott and Hawkins, who live together in Texas, are Faine’s only heirs, and that defendant Fleming was unknown to the family. Their motion contended that Fidelity failed to engage in sufficient efforts to locate the decedent’s heirs. Fidelity said it engaged in a title search, a vital statistics search and skip-tracing procedures to look for Faine’s heirs, but only found Fleming. On May 2, 2008, Hogan denied the motion to vacate after concluding that Fidelity had satisfied the requirements of Rule 4:4-4(b)(1)(c) for mail service and Rule 4:4-5 for service by publication. On appeal, Judges Howard Kestin and Donald Coburn declined to disturb Hogan’s determinations because it was based on undisputed facts and refused to reverse the judgment of foreclosure as to Hawkins and Johns. But the panel said it could not allow the judgment to stand with regard to Scott, who was not named as a defendant and was never served. “In the face of the reality that the heirs stand to lose their right to the full value of the property, whatever that may be, for failure to pay some $20,000 on a tax sale certificate, a default judgment as to Mallonease Scott cannot be countenanced without specific findings based on further proofs as to whether engaged in reasonably diligent efforts to identify and serve her,” Kestin and Coburn wrote. The heirs’ lawyer, Moorestown solo John Poindexter III, says he will prove on remand that Fidelity’s inquiry wasn’t diligent enough. Scott “was clearly the daughter of Ms. Faine — why they didn’t find her, I don’t know. They found one of the daughters — it seems to me they should have found the other,” Poindexter says.Simeone, the lawyer for Fidelity, did not return a call.

Two Federal Class-Action Suits Accuse N.J. Collection Firms of Overreaching

September 6, 2010 1 comment

Two Federal Class-Action Suits Accuse N.J. Collection Firms of Overreaching

In Mary Pat Gallagher’s recent New Jersey Law Journal article on September 2, 2010, she cites the two recently filed putative class-action suits accusing New Jersey collection firms of systematic abuses in trying to squeeze money from debtors.

Pressler & Pressler in Parsippany, the state’s preeminent collection powerhouse, has been sued over its alleged practice of going after joint bank accounts that contain non-debtor money.

The other suit accuses Lenox Socey Formidoni Brown Giordano Cooley & Casey in Trenton of regularly overstating the interest component of debts.

Robert and Diana Kieffer of Atlantic County, who share two joint bank accounts at Ocean First Bank, filed suit Aug. 3 in federal court, alleging that the Pressler firm — in an effort to collect credit card debt incurred by Diana before marriage — had the Ocean County sheriff levy on one of the joint accounts in August 2009, without checking first to see if she was the sole owner. The firm was acting on behalf of frequent client New Century Financial, which had acquired the debt and is a defendant in the case, Kieffer v. Pressler & Pressler , 10-cv-3938.

The Kieffers’ lawyer, Wesley Hanna, of Friedman Doherty in West Berlin, says he persuaded Superior Court Judge Craig Wellerson in Ocean County that everything in the account actually belonged to Robert and none to Diana, so Wellerson lifted the levy on Oct. 23, 2009, and Pressler never got any of the money in the account.

But for more than two months, the account was frozen, causing automatic payments to bounce and leading Robert to incur penalties by drawing against his retirement savings to pay bills, Hanna says. And during that time, Pressler & Pressler tried to use the frozen account to pressure Diana into agreeing to a payment plan. The situation created discord between Diana and Robert, who “doesn’t even owe the debt and suddenly he doesn’t even have access to his money any more,” Hanna says.

In the federal suit, the Kieffers claim Pressler and New Century have an “established business practice to levy upon joint bank accounts” and “as a matter of regular business practice, do not instruct levying authorities to limit levy attempts only to accounts where a debtor is the sole authorized signatory.”

In consequence, joint accounts are levied, resulting in unnecessary and undue expense, harassment and abuse of the non-debtors and also the debtors themselves due to increased tension, acrimony and hostility between them and the other account owners, they say.

The practices allegedly violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s ban on misrepresentation and deceit and unfair or unconscionable means in attempting to collect a debt. The Act, 15 U.S.C. §1692 et seq., allows for actual damages or statutory damages up to $1,000, plus legal fees. For class actions, it allows recovery of statutory damages, plus additional damages not exceeding $500,000 or one per cent of the debt collector’s net worth.

The Kieffers assert claims on behalf of a class of individuals from whom the Pressler firm and New Century sought to collect a debt by levying on a joint account within the last 12 months. Hanna estimates there are several hundred class members based on the defendants’ extensive collections activity.

Hanna says New Jersey’s Multiple-party Deposit Account Act bolsters his position that joint accounts should be off-limits to debt collectors. N.J.S.A. 17:16I-4 states that a joint account “belongs, during the lifetime of all parties, to the parties in proportion to the net contributions by each to the sums on deposit.” Absent proof of who put in what, equal ownership is presumed.

Hanna says lawyers should not be able to gain leverage to extract payment by disregarding the joint nature of an account or foregoing asset depositions. “The potential to make people’s lives miserable to collect debt means you have to follow very specific rules.”

Pressler & Pressler has not answered the complaint and could not be reached for comment.

Another class-action suit asserting Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Baratta v. Lenox Socey Formidoni Brown Giordano Cooley & Casey , 10-cv-4324, filed in Middlesex County in July, was removed to federal court on Aug. 23.

Lenox Socey sued Robert Baratta in state court in May 2009 seeking to recover nearly $6,700 for medical services provided to him by Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel between February 2006 and May 2008. Baratta alleges the amount included interest calculated from March 2006 on the entire amount of the debt, even portions that were not incurred until 2007 or 2008.

The class allegations are predicated on the assumption that the firm has done the same thing in other cases. The complaint alleges 100 or more.

Baratta’s lawyer, Andrew Wolf of Galex Wolf in North Brunswick says Baratta went to Northeast Legal Services which referred the case to him.”

The answer is not due until Sept. 13 and the firm’s lawyer, Claudia Costa, of Kaufman Dolowich Voluck & Gonzo in Hackensack, declines comment.

Kieffer is assigned to District Judge Stanley Chesler and Magistrate Judge Michael Shipp in Newark, while Baratta is being handled by Chief District Judge Garrett Brown Jr. and Magistrate Judge Douglas Arpert in Trenton