United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO STRIKE AMENDED
A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
and Eileen Rizvi (“Plaintiffs”) filed this
lawsuit on August 21, 2017, ECF No. 1. Currently pending
before the Court are four motions to strike Plaintiffs'
Amended Complaint. See William L Biddle and Urstadt
Biddle Property Inc. Mot. to Strike, ECF No. 25; Nobel F.
Allen, Hinckley, Allen, and Snyder LLP Mot. to Strike, ECF
No. 27; Tibbetts Keating & Butler LLC Mot. to Strike
Amended Compl., ECF No. 29; Coles Baldwin and Kaiser LLC,
John B Kaiser, Spa Thea, LLC Mot. to Strike, ECF No. 30.
four motions raise similar arguments. First, they argue that
Plaintiffs are not allowed to amend their complaint as of
right under Fed. R. of Civ. P. 15(a)(1) because it was filed
after a court-imposed deadline and after the applicable
21-day period. Second, assuming that the Plaintiffs seek
leave to amend under Fed. R. of Civ. P. 15(a)(2), Defendants
argue that amendment would be futile.
the Court holds that Plaintiffs were entitled to amend as of
right, it will not reach any question of the merits in this
case. The motions to strike will be DENIED.
The three pending motions to dismiss the initial complaint
will be DISMISSED as moot, without prejudice
to renewing any arguments raised as to the amended complaint
at a later date.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
filed the initial complaint on August 21, 2017. Compl., ECF
No. 1. In their initial complaint, Plaintiffs alleged they
operated the Lanphier Spa from 1992 until 2012. Id.
¶ 15. In 1998, Plaintiffs allege that one of the
defendants in this case, Urstadt Biddle Properties
(“UBP”), acquired the shopping center in which
the spa was located. Id. ¶ 19.
2006, Plaintiffs allege they signed a five-year extension of
their lease; the lease was set to expire on November 30,
2011. Id. ¶ 20. They claim that, following the
lease extension, they began a set of renovations to the
premises, completing these changes in 2009 for a cost of
approximately $380, 000. Id. ¶ 23. Plaintiffs
also allege that they timely notified UBP that they would
accept another ten-year extension of the lease. Id.
¶ 25. UBP sent the terms of the lease and then requested
additional documentation and signatures. Id.
the same time as the lease renewal, Plaintiffs began
discussing selling the spa to Andrew Stefanou, who was then
its manager. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiffs allege the
initial purchase price was $3.5 million. In 2011, however,
Plaintiffs allege that UBP changed its requirements for the
lease renewal: they now required Stefanou's signature on
any renewal. Id. ¶ 32-33.
allege that this pattern continued: UBP would state
additional restrictions on the renewal of the lease, and
Stefanou would lower his offering price. Id. ¶
33-36. Finally, Plaintiffs state that they “confronted
Stefanou about financials and the inference from them that he
was sabotaging the business to depreciate its value, ”
and they allege they fired him after he “threatened to
‘destroy the Rizvis.'” Id. ¶
37. Four days later Plaintiffs allege that UBP informed them
that UBP would not renew the lease without Stefanou as
guarantor. Id. ¶ 38. According to Plaintiffs
UBP stopped negotiating with them, and instead rented the
facility to Stefanou, who began operating Spa Thea at the
site. Id. ¶ 39-41.
then initiated legal action in state court, alleging that
there was a conspiracy to evict them and release the
premises; this action was eventually dismissed. Id.
¶ 43. In that state court action, Defendants Attorney
Mario Cometti and Tibbetts, Keating and Butler, LLC,
represented the Plaintiffs. Id. ¶ 46. UBP was
represented by Defendants Hinckley, Allen, and Snyder, LLP.
Plaintiffs assert that UBP and the Defendant law firms
negotiated a settlement agreement that included terms related
to Plaintiffs' eviction from the property, but that they
“had not seen any ‘General Release' when the
Stipulated Judgment was signed and thus discussed neither its
putative terms or signing it.” Id. ¶
47-50. Plaintiffs vacated the premises. Id. ¶
allege that they were provided copies of the
“Stipulated Judgment” in 2013, which included a
general release provision. Id. ¶ 60. They
allege that, while the agreement bore their signatures, those
“false signatures were lifted from other
documents.” Id. ¶ 58.
March 28, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a complaint in state court
for a Pure Bill of Discovery, and the court scheduled a
hearing, presided over by Defendant Judge Antonio Robaina.
Id. ¶¶ 63-64. Judge Robaina examined the
allegedly forged agreements in camera and denied
discovery, “stating the documents were identical except
for a handwritten note on the upper right hand of the first
page and the name of the County as Fairfield in faded ink . .
. .” Id.