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Seven Oaks Enters., L.P. v. DeVito

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk, Stamford

August 21, 2015

Seven Oaks Enterprises, L.P. et al.
v.
Sherri DeVito et al

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT (#217)

Hon. Charles T. Lee, J.

In an action for breach of contract on a promissory note, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, Seven Oaks Enterprises, L.P. (SOE) and Seven Oaks Management Corporation (SOM), and against the counterclaims of defendant Sherri DeVito (#214.00, #215.00). On February 23, 2015, the defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (#217.00).[1] Arguments were heard on May 4, 2015.

DISCUSSION

In reviewing a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the court " must consider the evidence, and all inferences that may be drawn from the evidence, in a light most favorable to the party that was successful at trial . . . This standard of review extends deference to the judgment of the judge and the jury who were present to evaluate witnesses and testimony . . . Judgment notwithstanding the verdict should be granted only if [the court finds] that the jurors could not reasonably and legally have reached the conclusion that they did reach." (Citations omitted.) Craine v. Trinity College, 259 Conn. 625, 635-36, 791 A.2d 518 (2002).

The defendant asserts two grounds in support of her motion: first, she argues that the plaintiffs have failed to establish that they are in good standing, and therefore lack the legal capacity to maintain the action; second, she argues that neither plaintiff was entitled to enforce the note, which is the subject of the litigation (the Note). These arguments are identical to two of the four grounds considered by the court in denying defendant's motion to set aside the verdict. Accordingly, reference is made to points I and II of the Memorandum of Decision re Defendant's Motion to Set Aside the Verdict (#218). The court adopts the more extensive discussion in that memorandum on these points, and summarizes the court's conclusions here.

To defendant's contention that SOE has not met its burden of proving that it is a foreign limited partnership authorized to commence and maintain an action in Connecticut courts, and SOM has not produced evidence demonstrating that it is a domestic corporation in good standing, the plaintiffs' principal testified that SOE was a holding company formed under Delaware law, and did not transact business in Connecticut. It therefore had legal capacity to commence the action pursuant to General Statutes § 34-38o(b).[2] The plaintiffs also submitted evidence and testimony that SOM was and remains incorporated and properly registered in Connecticut. From this evidence, the jury could have reasonably and legally reached the conclusion that both entities had legal capacity, and the defendant has not produced any evidence to the contrary.

To defendant's contention that neither plaintiff is entitled to enforce the Note because they have not introduced the original, plaintiffs have demonstrated that it is not necessary that the plaintiffs introduce the original Note in order to enforce it. Cadle Co. v. Errato, 71 Conn.App. 447, 459, 802 A.2d 887, cert. denied, 262 Conn. 918, 812 A.2d 861 (2002).

The court allowed the plaintiffs to introduce a copy of the Note, and the defendant did not object to its specification of the terms of the Note. The plaintiffs' principal, Mr. Chodos, testified that he searched extensively for the Note, but was unable to locate it. He further testified that SOE transferred the right to enforce the Note to SOM when SOE was dissolved in 2011. Other documents relating to the Note and the assignment of rights to enforce it were also introduced into evidence. There was sufficient evidence for the jury to have found that, in accord with General Statutes § 42a-3-309, [3] SOE was in possession of the Note when it was lost, its whereabouts are unknown, and the entity is entitled to enforce the Note. The jury further found that SOE transferred the right to enforce the Note to SOM. Again, the jury could have reasonably and legally reached the conclusion that the plaintiffs were in possession of the Note, and entitled to enforce it despite failing to produce the original. The defendant has not submitted evidence to the contrary.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, and those set forth in Points I and II of the court's memorandum of decision re defendants' motion to set aside the verdict, the defendant's motion for ...


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