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Sberbank of Russia v. Traisman

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 11, 2016

SBERBANK OF RUSSIA, Plaintiff,
v.
YURI TRAISMAN, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Warren W. Eginton, Senior U.S. District Judge

This action concerns the three guaranty agreements that plaintiff Sberbank of Russia asserts were executed by defendant Yuri Traisman in connection with commercial loans issued by plaintiff to a Russian company known as Sealand LLC. Traisman has asserted affirmative defenses and counterclaims alleging bad faith conduct, failure to account for certain payments, lack of actual loan default, improper execution of the guaranties, and abuse of process; defendant has also requested a set-off and demanded an accounting.

In a prior ruling, this Court held that defendant Traisman was barred from relitigating his liability under the guaranties due to the rendering of an enforceable decision from the Russian courts. Plaintiff has moved for summary judgment on defendant’s affirmative defenses and counterclaims, and for entry of judgment and an award of prejudgment and post-judgment interest. Defendant Traisman has also filed a motion for entry of judgment.

BACKGROUND

For purposes of ruling on this motion, the Court recites the following factual and procedural background from its prior ruling on summary judgment in addition to undisputed facts relevant to the instant motions.

Plaintiff Sberbank is a Russian commercial bank. Defendant Traisman served on the Board of Directors of Sealand.

In September 2007, Sberbank entered into a lending transaction with Sealand for construction of a shopping center in Moscow, Russia. In 2008 and 2009, Sealand obtained two additional loans from Sberbank to cover increased construction costs.

Sberbank alleges that Traisman executed three personal guaranties in favor of Sberbank to secure these loans. Traisman disputes that he executed the guaranties.

Sberbank demanded that Sealand make full repayment of the loan balances after it allegedly stopped rendering payments on the loans in April 2013. Sberbank also demanded full payment from Traisman on the loans.

In October 2013, Sberbank filed a lawsuit in the Tushino district of Moscow seeking money judgments arising from the defaulted loans retained by Sealand. In that action, Sberbank named defendants Sealand, Traisman, and another individual, Yevgeniy Lisin. The Court determined that it had no jurisdiction because Traisman had no registered place of residence in Moscow, and Lisin resided in another district. Accordingly, the case was transferred to the Balashikha Garrison Military Court in the district where Lisin resided. However, the Tushino Court later determined that the case should have been transferred to the regular Balashikha court rather than the military court.

On October 7, 2014, the Balashikha City Court issued a judgment in Sberbank’s favor. The Balashikha Court considered but rejected Traisman’s claim that the signatures on the guaranties were forged. The Court, noting his repeated failure to appear for a court ordered forensic examination of his signatures, found that Traisman had not sustained his burden of proof. The Balashikha City Court held that defendant and co-defendant were joint and severally liable for RUB 771, 832, 691.89.

Traisman appealed the Balashikha decision to the Appellate Division of the Moscow Regional Court. On February 9, 2015, the Moscow Regional Court upheld the Balashikha decision. However, Traisman appealed to the second appellate level, the Cassation Division of the Moscow Regional Court. On May 27, 2015, the Cassation Division determined that the matter should be remanded to the lower Appellate Division for further proceedings, including a forensic examination of the signatures on the guaranties.

On June 29, 2015, the Appellate Division of the Moscow Regional Court issued an order commissioning the Russian Federal Center of Forensic Science of the Ministry of Justice to conduct the forensic analysis examination; it instructed Traisman to appear on August 3, 2015, to provide handwriting exemplars or sign specimen signatures. The Order described the consequences pursuant to Article 79(3) of the Civil Procedure Code in the event of noncompliance.

On August 3, 2015, the Appellate Division of the Moscow Regional Court affirmed the Balashikha City Court decision after Traisman failed to appear at the hearing scheduled for that day. According to the decision issued by the Appellate Division, the June Order was sent by DHL to Traisman but he refused to receive it. The Appellate Division observed that “that the failure of Traisman to appear in court and to make available his specimen signatures strongly suggests avoidance of the forensic handwriting analysis for the purposes of the case under review.” The Appellate Court affirmed that Traisman had failed to sustain his burden of proof that he had not signed the signatures.

In October 2015, Traisman sought review of the Appellate Division’s decision from a panel of the Cassation Division of the Moscow Regional Court. However, a judge of the Cassation Division determined that Traisman’s appeal did not warrant consideration by the judicial panel. Traisman appealed that determination to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (“Russian Supreme Court”). On November 9, 2015, a justice of the Russian Supreme ...


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