by: Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher) (LinkedIn)
Sometimes you read decisions and you don't understand how the court arrived at its conclusion based on the facts of the case. Then other times, the conclusion just makes sense. These are the decisions you read and think to yourself, "of course you can't do that." The Appellate Division's opinion in 5 Perry Street, LLC v. Southwind Properties, LLC, is one of these cases.
In Perry Street, defendants were a limited liability corporation and the sole member of that corporation. The corporate defendant owned property in Cape May that it operated as a bed and breakfast.Two "non-institutional lenders" held mortgages on the property. After they foreclosed and obtained a final judgment of foreclosure, a sheriff's sale was scheduled. The corporate defendant obtained four adjournments of the sheriff's sale and attempted to refinance the property, but was "unable to consummate a transaction" before the sheriff's sale.
Instead, the day before the sheriff's sale, the individual defendant filed for bankruptcy. She then transferred the underlying property from the corporate defendant to herself. The consideration for the transfer was $1 and the "Balance of outstanding mortgages $80,000.00." The $1 consideration was typed into the deed, but the individual defendant hand wrote the part about the outstanding mortgages. She claimed that her intent was to "assume personal liability for the mortgages," but the Appellate Division noted that the balance of the mortgages at the time was almost $250,000, not $80,000, and that other documents she signed reflected that the only consideration was $1. She "filed the deed the next day, an hour and a half before the Sheriff's sale."
Continue reading “Transfer Made On The Morning Of Sheriff’s Sale, For The Purpose Of Delaying The Sheriff’s Sale, Deemed Fraudulent”
In Motorworld, Inc. v. Benkendorf, the Appellate Division decided to "put the issue raised in [the] appeal as if it were a law school exam," and then answer the exam question. Here is how it described the case:
A owns all the outstanding stock of DEF and GHI; her husband, B, operates all these and other entities wholly-owned by A. XYZ has done work for some of A and B's entities over the course of many years.
One of XYZ's principals asked B for a loan. B agreed, and A transferred $499,000 to DEF, a moribund entity. DEF then transferred $500,000 to XYZ, which executed a promissory note in DEF's favor; this note became DEF's only asset and its only debt is its unspoken obligation to repay A.
XYZ continued to perform work for GHI, and the note's due date was repeatedly extended; meanwhile, GHI's indebtedness to XYZ rose to approximately $1,000,000. Consequently, DEF executed a release of the note in exchange for XYZ's forgiveness of GHI's debt.
Was DEF's release of the note a fraudulent conveyance?
Believe it or not, this description was actually less complicated than the facts of the case.
Continue reading “Just In Time For Finals: Court Poses, Then Answers, Law School Exam Question On Fraudulent Conveyances”
A recent Appellate Division decision should serve as a warning to anyone thinking about transferring assets and rendering themselves judgment proof before entering into a business deal. If the deal goes bad, the transfer might be deemed fraudulent and creditors might be able to look to the fraudulently transferred assets to satisfy their judgments.
In Anastasi v. Barmbatsis, defendants, husband and wife, held all of the shares in a single-purpose entity that owned and operated a Stewart's Root Beer in Franklin Park, New Jersey. Shortly before procuring a loan to open a new Stewart's location with a partner, husband transferred his interest in the entity to wife, along with nearly all of his interest in another entity that the two owned. Husband then entered into a deal with plaintiff — verbal, but "apparently sealed with a handshake" — to borrow $50,000 to use to open the new restaurant. Defendants used this money, along with other funds, to open the restaurant.
Husband agreed to repay the loan in five to seven months. This was subsequently extended but husband failed to repay the loan even with the extension. Plaintiff sued and obtained a default judgment against husband for $50,000. In post-judgment discovery, plaintiff learned about the pre-loan transfers from husband to wife. Thereafter, he sued both husband and wife alleging, among other things, that the transfers violated New Jersey's Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act (the "UFTA"). The trial court ruled in plaintiff's favor. It held that wife was not personally responsible for paying back the loan, but plaintiff could satisfy his judgment with the interests in the two entities that husband had transferred to wife.
Continue reading “Transfer Can Be Fraudulent Even If It Occurs Before Loan, Default, And Lawsuit Over Default On Loan”
by: Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher)
In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division again reminded us that a personal guaranty cannot be enforced unless the person against whom it is being enforced signed the guaranty. This may sound like an obvious reminder, but the issue comes up from time to time, particularly where a contract is entered into with a corporation and purports to contain a personal guaranty on behalf of an individual officer of the corporation. Unless the officer signs the contract in his or her personal capacity — i.e., not just on behalf of the corporation as an officer of the corporation — the guaranty will not be enforceable. I have blogged about this before.
In Herz v. 141 Bloomfield Avenue Corporation, plaintiffs leased property to the corporate defendant. The lease contained a provision whereby the individual defendant, the corporate defendant's president, agreed to be personally liable for all "obligations, rents (past and future), and damages" due under the lease. The individual defendant signed the lease, but did so only on behalf of the corporate defendant — the lease contained a signature block for the corporate defendant, but did not contain a separate signature block for the individual defendant.
After default, plaintiffs sued both the corporate defendant and the individual defendant. The individual defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that he only signed the lease on behalf of the corporation and therefore could not be held liable under the personal guaranty. The trial court agreed and plaintiffs appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed.
Continue reading “Separate And Distinct Signature Required To Enforce Personal Guaranty From Corporate Officer or Director”
by: Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher)
When most litigators hear the term “spoliation” nowadays, they probably think of emails, servers, document retention policies, and back-up tapes. But the Appellate Division recently reminded us that old-fashioned spoliation is still alive and well (and improper).
In Hess Corporation v. American Gardens Management Company, plaintiff sued various single-purpose entities with which plaintiff had contracted to sell oil and gas. Plaintiff also sued the individual owner of all of these entities, which were essentially judgment proof, arguing that it was entitled to pierce the corporate veil and hold him liable because he had co-mingled funds and fraudulently conveyed and diverted assets from the various corporate entities for his personal use.
During discovery, plaintiff served the individual defendant with a document request. The individual defendant failed to respond and his answer was stricken. He later moved to reinstate his answer, first arguing that he could not answer the discovery request without implicating his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination (which the court rejected) and then claiming that he did not have many of the documents requested. Based on the latter, the court vacated its prior order and reinstated his answer.
Continue reading “Thank You, Captain Obvious — It Is Improper To Throw Your Records In A Dumpster In Advance Of A Lawsuit”