UDDIN v. GOODSON et al
OPINION/ORDER granting 100 Motion to Dismiss claims as to deft., GOODSON & GOODSON LAW OFFICE, w/prejudice. Signed by Judge William H. Walls on 5/18/17. (DD, )
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTOPHER J. GOODSON; GOODSON LAW
OFFICE; FIVE STAR FUNDING, LLC; LUTFUR
UDDIN; FARUK SIDDIQUE; JOHN CARUSO;
PREAKNESS REAL ESTATE, LLC; A-i
ELEGANT TOURS; and SHELIM KHALIQUE,
Civ. No. 2:i5-cv-$025 (WHW) (CLW)
Walls, Senior District Judge
This matter arises out of an allegedly fraudulent scheme to convince Plaintiff Fatema
Uddin to stop paying her mortgage and engage in an improper short sale of her home.
Defendants Christopher J. Goodson and Goodson Law Office now move to dismiss the
complaint as to themselves only for failure to comply with the Affidavit of Merit (“AOM”)
requirements of N.J.S.A
§ 2A: 52A-27.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Defendant John Caruso filed a similar motion to dismiss for failure to comply with the
AOM statute, and was dismissed from this case on March 8, 2017. ECF Nos. 94, 95. The facts of
this case were laid out in detail in that Opinion, ECF No. 95, and it is not necessary to revisit
them in depth here. For the purposes of Defendants Goodson and Goodson Law Office’s motion,
the relevant facts are as follows:
Plaintiff Fatema Uddin was referred to Defendant Lutfur Uddin for assistance with some
financial difficulties. Compl. ECF No. 1
Lutfur Uddin, acting as an agent of Defendant
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
Goodson and Defendant Goodson Law Office, charged Plaintiff$15,000 to serve as a “loan
modification mortgage specialist,” and convinced her to stop paying the mortgage on her home
in order to obtain a principal reduction and lower interest rate. Id.
¶J 2, 31,
33, 37. When a
foreclosure action was commenced against Plaintiff as the result of her nonpayment, she was
assured that the Goodson Law Office attorneys would “handle everything” and “protect [her]
¶ 51. In reliance on the advice of Goodson and Goodson Law Office, Plaintiff
executed a short sale of her property, transferring title to Defendant Farnk Siddique. Id.
64, 77. Siddique, a straw buyer, immediately transferred title through a quit claim deed to
Defendant Preakness Real Estate LLC. Id.
¶J 96-97. The funds for this transaction were
transferred by Goodson Law Office, and Defendant Five Star Funding, a company wholly owned
by Christopher Goodson. Id.
120. Afler this transaction was complete, Plaintiff was
informed that her home would not be sold back to her and that she would be evicted. Id.
103. Defendants Goodson and Goodson Law Office then filed multiple complaints for
possession of the property in 2014 and 2015. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that in addition to providing and transferring funds for the transfer of her
property, Defendants Goodson and Goodson Law Office represented all of the actors who
participated in the fraudulent sale and transfer of Plaintiff’s home and prepared the documents
used to convey the property interest Id.
¶J 118-19. For their role in the scheme, Defendants
Goodson and Goodson Law Office were compensated in fees, real estate commissions for both
the purchase and sale of Plaintiff’s property, and several hundred thousand dollars in equity
stripped from the property. Id.
Plaintiff brought suit in this District on November 11, 2015. Defendants Christopher
Goodson and Goodson Law Office move to dismiss Plaintiffs claims against them as a result of
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
Plaintiffs failure to file an Affidavit of Merit (“AOM”) within 120 days of the filing of the
Defendants’ Answer as required by N.J.S.A
§ 2A:52A-27. Defendants filed their Answer on
January 13, 2016. ECF No. 18. 120 days from this date was May 12, 2016. To this date, no AOM
has been filed by Plaintiff. Plaintiff has not opposed this motion. Before Defendants Goodson
and Goodson Law Office brought this motion, Defendant John Caruso filed a similar motion to
dismiss for failure to comply with the AOM statute. ECF No. 54. This motion was granted by the
Court on March 8, 2017, and Plaintiffs claims as to Defendant Caruso were dismissed with
prejudice. ECF No. 95.
Because Defendants Goodson and Goodson Law Office’s present motion is substantively
the same as Defendant Caruso’s, the Court’s reasoning in its March 8, Opinion, ECF No. 95, is
equally applicable here. Like Caruso, Defendant Goodson is a “licensed person” within the
meaning of the AOM statute because he is a lawyer licensed to practice law in the state of New
Jersey. Although not discussed in the Court’s previous opinion, law firms also fall within the
AOM statute’s definition of a licensed person. Shamrock Lacrosse, Inc. v. Klehr, Harrison,
Harvey, Branzburg & Elters, LLF, 416 N.J. Super. 1, 21-22 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2010).
Consequently, Defendant Goodson Law Office is also a licensed person under the AOM statute.
Plaintiff has accused Defendants Goodson and Goodson Law Office of substantially the
same conduct as Defendant Caruso. Although they played different roles in the execution of the
alleged scheme, like Defendant Caruso they are accused of violating their duty to their client by
inducing her to enter a fraudulent and illegitimate real estate agreement. In addition, the Goodson
Defendants acted as a conduit for the transfer of funds to perpetuate the fraud. Plaintiff also
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
states that these Defendants were representing all of the actors in the scheme, at the same time
that they were supposed to be representing her.
All of these claims relate directly to Defendants’ status and responsibilities as attorneys.
Adjudication of these claims would require proof of a deviation from a professional standard of
conduct. Consequently, the AOM statute is applicable to Plaintiffs claims against these
Defendants. The lack of an AOM justifies dismissal of Plaintiffs claims as to Defendants
Goodson and Goodson Law office.
As discussed in the March 8 Opinion, this case does not present any “extraordinary
circumstances” that would justify a dismissal without prejudice. The Court is cognizant of the
fact that Plaintiff is not currently represented by counsel. However, at all times relevant to the
filing of an AOM, Plaintiff had representation. Consequently, the failure to file a timely AOM
cannot be overlooked as a mere error by apro se plaintiff. Ignorance of the law or failure to seek
or obtain legal counsel in not sufficient to justify a dismissal without prejudice. Taylor v. Flousis,
101 F. $upp. 2d 255, 270 (D.N.J. 2000). Because Plaintiff has not opposed this motion to
dismiss, the Court has not been made aware of any other facts that could give rise to a finding of
extraordinary circumstances sufficient to justify a dismissal without prejudice.
For the reasons stated here, and in the Court’s March 8, 2017 Opinion, we find that
Plaintiff has failed to comply with the requirements of N.J.S.A
§ 2A:52A-27. Defendants’
motion is granted. It is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiffs claims as to Defendant Goodson and
Defendant Goodson Law Office are dismissed with prejudice.
States Senior District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?