N.J. Judge Cites Misleading Affidavit of Service in Dismissal of Superstorm Sandy Flood Case

In a recent case concerning flood insurance benefits in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Judge Jerome B. Simandle of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey refused to extend a deadline for serving defendants after finding that Plaintiff’s counsel misled the court by filing a false affidavit of service to avoid dismissal. Judge Simandle dismissed the case and noted that seven months had passed since the complaint was filed and the New-Jersey based Defendant was not served until three months after the 120-day period expired. Plaintiff’s counsel, Verne A. Pedro, was found to have been “serially inattentive” to the deadline and his conduct was found to have risen above the level of mere inadvertence.

Judge Simandle further noted that Mr. Pedro had received two letters notifying him of his failure to effect service yet nonetheless filed a false affidavit with the Court proclaiming that service was perfected. Judge Simandle also declined to exercise his discretion to allow an extension of time, even though the statute of limitations may bar a subsequent suit, and reasoned that Mr. Pedro’s conduct was inexcusable. Because Plaintiff’s motion for an extension of time was denied and service was not perfected within 120 days, Judge Simandle dismissed the case without prejudice.