Baldinger v. Ferri, 092713 FED3, 12-4529

Docket Nº:12-4529
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Party Name:BRUCE E. BALDINGER v. ANTONIO FERRI; MATTEO PATISSO; NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE a/k/a THE NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE Matteo Patisso, Appellant
Judge Panel:Before: AMBRO, HARDIMAN and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:September 27, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

BRUCE E. BALDINGER

v.

ANTONIO FERRI; MATTEO PATISSO; NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE a/k/a THE NATIONAL FRAUD CONSTABLE Matteo Patisso, Appellant

No. 12-4529

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

September 27, 2013

NOT PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) September 20, 2013.

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. Civil No. 3:10-cv-03122) District Judge: Honorable Peter G. Sheridan.

Before: AMBRO, HARDIMAN and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

PER CURIAM

Pro se defendant-appellant Matteo Patisso appeals District Court orders relating to the entry of a default judgment against him. We will affirm.

This convoluted case arises out of a diversity action filed by the plaintiff-appellee, attorney Bruce Baldinger.1 Baldinger accused the various defendants, but most notably Mateo Patisso, of disseminating false information and interfering with his business. Patisso was alleged to harbor an ongoing vendetta against Baldinger that manifested through stalking behavior, posting defamatory material on the Internet, intervening in cases brought by Baldinger, and so on.

Throughout the litigation, Patisso did not fully comply with his discovery obligations. The District Court eventually instructed the Clerk to enter a default against Patisso pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(vi), relying in part on the six-factor test of Poulis v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 747 F.2d 863, 868 (3d Cir. 1984). The District Court permitted Baldinger to move for default judgment, which he did in February 2012. (A default judgment had previously been entered against Patisso after he failed to answer the complaint; however, that judgment was later vacated when Patisso began to participate.)

The District Court scheduled an evidentiary hearing on Baldinger's motion for July 2012. Shortly before the hearing was to be held, Patisso sent a letter to the Court in which he claimed that injuries from a motor-vehicle accident (occurring approximately two months earlier) would prevent him from physically attending court on that day. His letter did not request any alternative accommodations. Observing that the hearing had already been mach delayed, and that the object of the hearing was simply to show damages, the Court decided to move ahead despite Patisso's absence. On July 12, the District Court entered its final judgment, awarding more than a million dollars to Baldinger and imposing an injunction on Patisso.

Patisso moved to set aside the default judgment by filing a motion for reconsideration on July 30. He objected to the presentation of alleged hearsay and uncorroborated testimony at the hearing, which he claimed was conducted in violation of due process and his "right to confront, "2 as well as numerous New Jersey laws. He also argued that the District Court violated the New Jersey Punitive Damages Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:15-5.9 et seq., because the Court failed to "la[y] out the reasons" for imposing damages and "never addressed" Patisso's ability to pay. See, e.g., N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:15-5.12(c)(4).3 Patisso also enclosed documentation relating to his alleged car accident: the May 4 incident report, a May 7 doctor's note reflecting that Patisso was "not able to appear in court for at least ten days, " and a July 3 follow-up note establishing that Patisso could not travel any distances farther "than 30 minutes." Patisso also filed a motion to set aside the judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), attacking the merits of the underlying proceeding while alleging that Baldinger's proffer amounted to a "fraud upon the court."

At a hearing held on November 29, 2012, the District Court denied both motions. The motion for reconsideration was denied as both untimely (as it was filed after the fourteen days allowed by D.N.J. L. Civ. R. 7.1(i)) and meritless. With regard to the Rule 60(b) motion, the District Court concluded that its original judgment was not void or otherwise infirm. The Court entered its orders on December 6; Patisso filed his notice of appeal on December 18.

We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.4 In his opening brief, Patisso identifies four orders that he wishes to contest: the order denying reconsideration, the order denying the Rule 60(b) motion, and two post-judgment orders...

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