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Church v. Teleteria, Inc.

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Fairfield, Bridgeport

June 9, 2017

TIM CHURCH
v.
TELETERIA, INC. and JAY SERVIDIO

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

          Alfred J. Jenning, Judge.

         Procedural/ Factual Background

         This Connecticut civil action to enforce a California judgment was commenced in 201 4 by Tim Church, a self-described multiple business owner/ entrepreneur from Chico, California against Teleteria, Inc, a corporation having a place of business in New Canaan, Connecticut and Jay Servidio, an individual residing in New Canaan and the owner and president of Teleteria, Inc. In about 2010 - 2011 the plaintiff decided to get into the adult website business. He had purchased a number of Universal Resource Locator (URL) addresses of non-operating websites which he planned to develop into operating adult websites. Mr. Church was solicited in Califomi; by Teletaria, Inc. (" Teleteria") and Jay Servidio (" Servidio") to design and build the websites for him and to help him build a successful business as a adult website operator. Plaintiff entered into an agreement with Teleteria to design and build the websites and host them on the internet for plaintiff in return for a monthly fee. Plaintiff testified that he was in contact with Servidio by electronic mail and that during the initial stages of the relationship Teleteria and/or Servdio put the Plaintiff in contact with an individual named Cory who was based in southern California. Corey did the actual work of designing and building the websites. Plaintiff testified that there were many problems with the functionality of the websites and he became dissatisfied with defendants' services.

         Based on the problems with the websites the Plaintiff commenced an action in fraud against the defendants Teleteria and Servidio on or about May 2, 2012 in the Superior Court of California in and tor the County of Butte. Both defendants failed to appear in the California action and both were defaulted by the court for failure to appear on September 24, 2012, (Plaintiffs Ex. 3 and 4). On December 11, 2012 the California Superior Court entered judgment against the defendant Teleteria, Inc. in the amount of $78, 180.85.

         This Connecticut action is a common law action against the defendants pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution of the United States, asking this court to enforce the California judgment against the Connecticut defendants. The case was tried as a non-jury bench trial before the undersigned with evidence taken on October 13-14, 2016. The plaintiff Tim Church testified in support of his case. After the plaintiff had rested his case the defendants made an oral Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Make Out a Prima Facie Case pursuant to Practice Book § 15-8. After consideration of the evidence presented by the plaintiff, this court denied the Motion to Dismiss as to defendant Teleteria, Inc., but granted the Motion to Dismiss as to defendant Jay Servidio only, since the California Judgment of December 11, 2012 recites that " IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Judgment be entered against Defendant TELETERIA, INC. and in favor of Plaintiff Tim Church in the amount of $78, 180.85" and there is no mention therein, nor is there any other evidence, of a California judgment entering against defendant Jay Servidio. The trial continued as to the defendant Teleteria, Inc.

         The defendant Jay Servidio then testified on behalf of Teleteria. At the conclusion of the evidence the court ordered trial briefs to be filed by both parties thirty days after receipt of transcripts. Transcripts were provided on January 11, 2017. Briefs were due on February 10, 2017. The plaintiff filed a timely trial brief. The defendant Teleteria has not filed a brief. No motion for default for failure to file a brief has been filed. The plaintiff did file a " Motion for Order" (No. 153) asking the court to decide the case on the existing record in that the defendant has waived the right to be heard by not filing a brief. The court has decided to proceed in that manner, taking into account where appropriate that the defendant has not filed its trial brief.

         Discussion

         Under the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgment Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § § 52-604-52-606 a judgment creditor holding a final judgment of a court of another jurisdiction entitled to full faith and credit in this state except one obtained by default of appearance or by confession of judgment is entitled to have such foreign judgment " domesticated" as a Connecticut judgment by filing a certified copy of that foreign judgment with the Connecticut court and certifying that it is unsatisfied in whole or in part, the amount remaining unpaid, and that the enforcement of such judgment has not been stayed, in which event " [s]uch foreign judgment shall be treated in the same manner as a judgment of a court of this state." Plaintiff's California judgment against Teletaria, Inc. in this case is not eligible for " domestication" under the Uniform Act, because it was obtained by default of appearance in the California court. But that judgment is nonetheless entitled to full faith and credit in Connecticut through the procedure of a Connecticut common law civil action based on the California judgment pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-607 which provides: " The right of a judgment creditor to proceed by an action on the judgment or a motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint instead of proceeding under sections 52-604 to 52-609, inclusive, shall remain unimpaired." This is such an action.

         The plaintiff has proved that it obtained a judgment of the Superior Court of California in and for the County of Butte on December 11, 2012 against Teleteria, Inc. in the amount of $78, 180.85 and that no part of that judgment has been satisfied. Teleteria has raised the special defense that the California court lacked personal jurisdiction over it in that Teleteria was not properly served with process.

The judgment of another state must be presumed valid, and the burden of proving lack of jurisdiction rests heavy upon the assailant.

         ...

Furthermore, the party attacking the judgment bears the burden of proof regardless of whether the judgment at issue was rendered after a full trial on the merits or after an ex parte proceeding.

Business Alliance Capital Corp. v. Fuselier, 89 Conn.App. 731, 737 (2005), citing Packer Plastics, Inc. v. Laundon, 214 Conn. 52, 57 (1990) .

         To determine whether a foreign court lacked jurisdiction, we look to the law of the foreign state. Business Alliance, supra, citing Tri State Tank Corp. v. Higganum Heating, Inc., 45 Conn.App. 798, 800 (1997)

         Process was served on Teleteria in Connecticut pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure. The Proof of Service of Summons of the Superior Court of California, County of Butte (Plaintiff's Exhibit 1) attests that service of process was made on May 23, 2012 at 5:36 PM at 268 Jelliff Mill, New Canaan, Connecticut by Andrew Gonzales, a professional process server located in Hauppauge, New York, by personal delivery of process upon Jay Servidio as an individual and as the agent of Teleteria, Inc. Under California law " A summons may be served by any person who is at least 18 years of age and not a party to the case." (California Code of Civil Procedure, $ 414.10). The Proof of Service of Summons states, regarding Andrew Gonzales: " At the time of service I was at least 18 years of age and not a party to this action." (Plaintiff's Ex 1) Service by personal delivery is in keeping with the California Code of Civil Procedure, § 415.10 which provides in relevant part: " A summons may be served by personal delivery of a copy of the summons and of the complaint to the person to be served. Service of a summons in this manner is deemed complete at the time of service" . Furthermore, the court finds on the evidence that service on Jay Servidio as an agent of Teleteria, Inc. was proper service on Teleteria, Inc. Servidio accepted the Teleteria copy of process handed to him by the process server as an agent of the corporation. Servidio testified that he was the president of Teleteria, Inc. (TR 10-14-16, p.3) As such, he is an agent of the corporation for purposes of service of process. " A summons may be served on a corporation by delivering a copy of the summons and the complaint by any of the following methods:.... (b) To the president, chief executive officer, or other head of the corporation ...." (California Code of Civil Procedure, § 416.10). And service of California process in New Canaan, Connecticut was authorized under California Code of Civil Procedure. § 415.40: " A summons may be served on a person outside this state in any manner provided by this article..."

         Teleteria also claims in its Answer to the Complaint that it neither had substantial nor significant contacts with the State of California, which more appropriately should have been raised by special defense. Maltas v. Maltas,298 Conn. 354, 359-60 (2010); Practice Book § 10-50. But, since the plaintiff has not raised that procedural point and there are constitutional implications to defendant's position, the court will address it on the merits. Maltas involved the plaintiff's attempt to enforce a default judgment of an Alaska ...


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