Edwin R. Jonas, III & Blacktail Mountain Ranch Co. v. Nancy D. Gold, Esq., Linda B. Jonas, Charney, Charney & Karapousis, P.A., Civil Action No. 13-2949

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtHon. Joseph H. Rodriguez
Decision Date30 September 2014
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 13-2949

MOUNTAIN RANCH CO., L.L.C., Plaintiffs,

Civil Action No. 13-2949


September 30, 2014

Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez


In 1990, Plaintiff Edwin R. Jonas, III ("Jonas") and pro se Defendant Linda B. Jonas ("Linda") divorced. Since that time, there has been a significant amount of litigation in multiple state and federal courts all over the United States. Here, Plaintiffs, Jonas and Blacktail Mountain Ranch, of which Jonas is a managing member, allege that Defendants Linda Jonas, Linda's New Jersey counsel Nancy D. Gold, Esquire, ("Gold"), and the law firms of Charny, Charny, & Karapousis, P.A. ("Charny") and Adler, Sacharow, Gold, Taylor, Keyser and Hanger, a Professional Corporation ("Adler")1violated New Jersey Common Law and Plaintiffs' civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 when Defendants fraudulently obtained a judgment in the Jonases' divorce proceedings.

Presently before the Court are several dispositive motions filed separately by the parties in this action seeking summary judgment and dismissal of the Amended

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Complaint. Defendant Linda Jonas moves for dismissal2 of the Amended Complaint, although she does not identify the Rule under which she moves, and for Edwin Jonas and Blacktail Mountain Ranch to be declared vexatious litigants.3 See Dkt. No. 10. Defendant Nancy Gold moves for dismissal pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) & (6). See Dkt. No. 33. Defendant Charny moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. See Dkt. No. 34. Plaintiffs move to Strike Declarations of John Slimm, Esq. and Frank Orbach, Esq. and demand a hearing under Fed. R. Evid. 201(e). See Dkt. No. 38. Plaintiffs also move for summary judgment and filed a Cross Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendants on Liability. See Dkt. No. 42.

The Court has considered the extensive briefing, a multitude of supplemental letters, and the arguments advanced at the hearing in this matter on July 29, 2014. For the reasons that follow, Defendants Gold's, Linda's, and Charny's motions are granted and Plaintiffs' motions are denied.

I. Background

The history of this case spans over twenty five years and includes litigation in the Superior Court of New Jersey Chancery Division and Appellate Division, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, the Florida trial and appellate courts, the Montana trial and

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appellate courts, the Supreme Court of Montana, the United States District Court for the District of Montana, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana, the United States Supreme Court and the United States Tax Court.

At the heart of these matters is Edwin Jonas' continuous challenges to and collateral attacks of several post-judgment orders issued by the Family Part of Superior Court of New Jersey regarding his divorce from Linda. The exhausting history of the dissolution of the Jonases' marriage is littered with a series of child custody and alimony battles. At the end of the day, Linda Jonas was awarded custody and Edwin Jonas was ordered to pay alimony and child support.4 Because Jonas repeatedly failed to comply with court-ordered obligations, several measures were imposed by Superior Court Judge Robert Page, including the establishment of a constructive trust. Linda Jonas was a trustee of the trust and the trust account was held by the Adler firm and Nancy Gold. Gold represented Linda during the divorce proceedings in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County Vicinage, Cause No. FM-04-

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259-89. In May 2006, the New Jersey Superior Court entered a judgment against Jonas for unpaid child support, alimony, attorney's fees and other obligations. Since that time, Linda has moved to domesticate the New Jersey Order in Florida and Montana.

At every step of the way, Linda's attempts to enforce the New Jersey order have been met with virulent resistance from Jonas, who not only continues to sue Linda, but also sued the attorneys who have represented her in the various litigations, his own counsel, and the Montana state court judge who presided over the civil domestication action brought by Linda in that state.5 See Jonas v. Waterman, 13-CV-16, 2013 WL 2962766 (D. Mont. June 12, 2013). And Jonas has earned a reputation for filing frivolous complaints. Recently, the District of Montana imposed sanctions upon and admonished Jonas for his repeated abuse of the court. See, Jonas v. Jonas, 13-CV-90, 2014 WL 389138, *3 (D. Mont. Aug. 7, 2014) (Ordering the clerk to distribute the court's order to the disciplinary boards of the bar examiners of the states of Maine, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.) Several courts have refused to give Jonas' claims any consideration, having addressed Jonas' claims in summary fashion. See, id., citing (Jonas v. Gold, 58 So.3d 396 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 2011); Jonas v. Fid. Nat. Title Ins. Co. of Pennsylvania, 44 So.3d 596 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 2010); Jonas v. Jonas, 773 So.2d 1163 (Fla. 4th Dist. App. 2000); Jonas v. Jonas, 40 A.3d 733 (N.J. 2012); Jonas v. Jonas, 950 A.2d 905 (N.J. 2008); Jonas v. Jonas, 758 A.2d 649 (N.J. 2000); see also Jonas v. Jonas, 2011 WL 6820244 at *2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2011) ("Given the posture of the case, defendant's

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claims of error lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion."); Jonas v. Jonas, 2008 WL 239069, *2 (N.J. Sup. Ct. App. Div. Dec. 29, 2008) ("This is the fifth time this case has come before us since the parties' 1998 divorce.")).

For these reasons, the Court will not recount the protracted history of this case in great detail. Plaintiff's arguments here are frivolous and warrant little, if any, discussion in light of the arguments that support dismissal of the Amended Complaint. In short, Plaintiffs continue to claim that several New Jersey judgments culminating in the May 4, 2006 judgment were fraudulently obtained and that "the validity of the Montana judgment [ordering dissolution of Blacktail Mountain Ranch] is based on the assumption that certain judgments used in reaching that judgment were final judgments when in fact they were not final judgment[s] under New Jersey law." See Plaintiff's Brief in Support, 4. Plaintiffs allege that the finality of the New Jersey Judgment is an issue in the present case. Id. The Court disagrees.6

There are seven counts in the Amended Complaint. Count I is entitled "Legal Malpractice v. Nancy D. Gold" and alleges claims of legal malpractice, fraud and negligence. Counts II and III separately allege a breach of fiduciary duty against Linda

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and Gold, respectively. Count IV alleges fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud against both Linda and Gold. Count V alleges conversion, misappropriation, and embezzlement against all Defendants. Count VI is a claim of Legal Malpractice against Charny and Adler. Finally, Count VII, alleges a violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983 against Linda and Gold.

II. Applicable Standards

There are three standards of review at play in the present matter. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 governs a court's decision to dismiss a claim based on the pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12. More specifically, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) governs a court's decision to dismiss a claim for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction" and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) governs a court's decision to dismiss a claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs the court's consideration of whether summary judgment is warranted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) permits a court to dismiss a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A defendant may contest subject matter jurisdiction by attacking the face of the complaint (i.e., a facial attack) or by attacking "the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, quite apart from any pleadings" (i.e., a factual attack). Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977); Schwartz v. Medicare, 832 F. Supp. 782, 787 (D.N.J. 1993); Donio v. United States, 746 F. Supp. 500, 504 (D.N.J. 1990). A facial attack "contest[s] the sufficiency of the pleadings." Common Cause of Pa. v. Pennsylvania, 558 F.3d 249, 257 (3d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). On a facial attack, the court must read the complaint in the light most

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favorable to the plaintiff and consider the allegations of the complaint as true. Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891.

Under a factual attack, a court is not confined to the pleadings but may weigh and consider evidence outside the pleadings, including affidavits, depositions, and exhibits to satisfy itself that it has jurisdiction. Id.; Gould Elecs., Inc. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000); Gotha v. United States, 115 F.3d 176, 179 (3d Cir. 1997) (stating that court can consider affidavits, depositions, and testimony to resolve factual issues bearing on jurisdiction). This is because on a factual motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court's very power to...

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