Nuveen Mun. Trust v. Withumsmith Brown PC, et al, No. 10-4633 (3d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
In connection with a loan, Bayonne provided Nuveen with an audit report authored by accounting firm, Withum and an opinion letter from Bayonne’s counsel, Lindabury. Soon after the transaction, Bayonne filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, 11 U.S.C. 101. Nuveen claimed that the audit report and opinion letter concealed problems with Bayonne’s financial condition and that, had it known about these financial issues, it would not have entered into the transaction. The district court dismissed claims of fraud (Withum), negligent misrepresentation, and malpractice (Lindabury) based on Nuveen’s noncompliance with New Jersey’s Affidavit of Merit statute, N.J. Stat. 2A:53A-26, which requires an affidavit of merit for certain actions against professionals. The Third Circuit remanded for reconsideration of diversity jurisdiction. On remand, the court accepted an argument that the action was “related to” Bayonne’s bankruptcy proceeding, establishing jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1334(b), and again dismissed. The Third Circuit affirmed as to jurisdiction and held that the AOM Statute can be applied by a federal court without conflicting with FRCP 8. If the AOM Statute applies, noncompliance requires dismissal. The court certified to the New Jersey Supreme Court questions relating to the “nature of the injury” and “cause of action” elements of the statute.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on May 14, 2014.