876 F.2d 1076 (2nd Cir. 1989), 969, GNOC, Corp. v. Endico

Docket Nº:969, Docket 88-7820.
Citation:876 F.2d 1076
Party Name:GNOC, CORP., t/a Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Cecelia ENDICO, Executrix of the Estate of Leon Endico, Sr., Deceased, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:May 31, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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Page 1076

876 F.2d 1076 (2nd Cir. 1989)

GNOC, CORP., t/a Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Cecelia ENDICO, Executrix of the Estate of Leon Endico, Sr.,

Deceased, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 969, Docket 88-7820.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

May 31, 1989

Argued April 7, 1989.

Stephen N. Dratch, Roseland, N.J. (Greenberg, Margolis, Ziegler, Schwartz, Dratch, Fishman, Franzblau & Falkin, P.A., Roseland, N.J., of counsel), for plaintiff-appellant.

Robert S. Ondrovic, White Plains, N.Y. (David E. Worby, P.C., White Plains, N.Y., of counsel), for defendant-appellee.

Before KAUFMAN, PRATT and MINER, Circuit Judges.

MINER, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff-appellant GNOC, Corp. t/a Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino ("Golden Nugget"), incorporated and principally doing business in New Jersey, appeals from two judgments entered in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Brieant, Chief Judge) denying enforcement of a gambling debt incurred by Leon Endico, Sr. at the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Initially, the district court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the complaint, 692 F.Supp. 1515 (S.D.N.Y.1988), holding that a New York court would apply New Jersey law and that the New Jersey statute and regulations governing casino gambling would render Endico's debt unenforceable because the casino had not properly endorsed checks signed and presented to it by Endico to obtain money for gambling. Thereafter, Golden Nugget moved to alter or amend the judgment based on evidence it submitted that New Jersey would consider the debt enforceable because the casino's endorsement

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comported with the New Jersey requirements. The court denied the motion, reiterating its earlier opinion and adding that New Jersey public policy also mandated denying enforcement of the debt. The court again entered summary judgment dismissing the complaint. 1

We agree that New York courts would apply New Jersey law. We hold, however, that because Golden Nugget's endorsement of Endico's checks complied with pertinent New Jersey law and regulations, Endico's debt to Golden Nugget is enforceable in New Jersey, and hence, in New York. Moreover, we hold that enforcement is not contrary to New Jersey's public policy. Accordingly, we reverse.

BACKGROUND

Leon Endico, Sr., a resident of New York, was a regular patron of the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 1983, Endico was granted $30,000 in credit from the Golden Nugget. On many occasions after that date, Endico's credit was increased beyond $30,000.

On the weekend of April 19-21, 1985, Endico secured a total of $50,000 for gambling purposes from the Golden Nugget. In exchange, he signed over to the casino ten counter checks, in amounts ranging from $4,000 to $6,000. The counter checks were endorsed "FOR DEPOSIT ONLY GNOC, CORP. ... # 2/008-3879" before Endico signed them. The numbers 2/008-3879 represent a GNOC casino revenue bank account. Endico won $16,400 that weekend, but died the following month, on May 4, 1985, without extinguishing his debt to the casino. On May 8, Golden Nugget deposited the checks in its New Jersey bank, which then presented the checks to Endico's bank for payment. The checks were dishonored for insufficient funds and eventually returned to Golden Nugget.

Golden Nugget, by letter dated June 20, 1985, informed Mrs. Endico of...

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