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ARC Capital, LLC v. Asia Pacific Ltd.

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

March 6, 2018

ARC CAPITAL, LLC
v.
ASIA PACIFIC LIMITED ET AL.

          Argued November 29, 2017

         Procedural History

         Action to, inter alia, enforce a foreign judgment, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Fairfield, where the court, Hon. Richard P. Gilardi, judge trial referee, granted the plaintiff's application for a prejudgment remedy; thereafter, the matter was transferred to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, Complex Litigation Docket, where the court, Miller, J., granted the defendants' motion to dissolve the prejudgment remedy; subsequently, the court, Miller, J., granted the defendants' motion to dismiss and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Reversed; further proceedings.

          Jillian McNeil, pro hac vice, with whom were Stefan Savic and, on the brief, John G. Balestriere, pro hac vice, for the appellant (plaintiff).

          Andrew B. Bowman, for the appellees (defendants).

          DiPentima, C. J., and Bright and Bishop, Js.

          OPINION

          DiPENTIMA, C. J.

          The plaintiff, ARC Capital, LLC, appeals from the judgment of the trial court dismissing, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, this action against the defendants, Asia Pacific Limited (Asia Pacific) and Aashish Kalra, to enforce a judgment rendered in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands (Cayman court). On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court erred in concluding that the judgment the plaintiff sought to enforce could be enforced only through chapter 15 of the United States Bankruptcy Code; see 11 U.S.C. § 1501 et seq. (2012); and, therefore, improperly dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We agree with the plaintiff and reverse the judgment of the trial court.

         Knowledge of the following undisputed facts, as set forth by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the related case of Trikona Advisors Ltd. v. Chugh, 846 F.3d 22 (2017), is necessary for the resolution of this appeal. "[Trikona Advisors Ltd. (TAL)] is an investment advisory company. Its two beneficial owners, [Rakshitt] Chugh and Aashish Kalra, formed the company in 2006 as a vehicle for helping foreign investors invest in Indian real estate and infrastructure. Each man held a [50] percent equity stake in TAL through entities controlled by them. Chugh's shares were owned by ARC Capital LLC . . . and Haida Investments . . . and Kalra's shares were owned by Asia Pacific Investments, Ltd.'' Id., 26. By 2009, the relationship between Chugh and Kalra had deteriorated to the point where they could no longer work together. Id., 27. Eventually, TAL's board of directors voted to remove Chugh as a director, leaving Kalra to treat TAL and its assets as his own. Id.

         "On February 13, 2012, ARC [Capital, LLC] and Haida [Investments], which held Chugh's TAL shares and were controlled by Chugh, filed a petition in the [Cayman court] seeking to ‘wind up' TAL, a Cayman corporation. The [petition] sought to liquidate the business and divide its assets between Chugh and Kalra. Asia Pacific, which held Kalra's TAL shares and was controlled by Kalra, opposed Chugh's petition. . . . The Cayman court tried the wind-up proceeding over seven days in January of 2013. At the trial's conclusion, the court granted Chugh's petition. It found that each of Chugh's allegations was supported by evidence, and that these allegations taken together supported a finding that it was just and equitable to wind up TAL. It also rejected each of Kalra's affirmative defenses, concluding that there was no merit whatsoever in the allegations made against Mr. Chugh. Kalra appealed from this judgment, first to the Court of Appeal of the Cayman Islands, and then to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. Both tribunals affirmed the judgment.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Id., 27-28.

         The plaintiff brought the present action against Asia Pacific[1] and Kalra, [2] seeking to domesticate and enforce a subsequent costs order of the Cayman court. According to the complaint and accompanying exhibits, on February 7, 2013, the plaintiff and Haida applied to the Cayman court for attorneys' fees and litigation expenses incurred as petitioners in the winding up proceedings of TAL. On February 14, 2013, the Cayman court issued a costs order requiring that Asia Pacific reimburse the plaintiff and Haida for their litigation expenses. On May 15, 2013, the Cayman court issued a "default costs certificate'' setting the final amount payable to the plaintiff and Haida at $760, 067.65. In this action, the plaintiff sought to domesticate and enforce this order.

         On August 24, 2015, the court, Hon. Richard P. Gilardi, judge trial referee, granted the plaintiff's application for a prejudgment remedy and ordered a disclosure of assets within two weeks of the date of the order. On August 27, 2015, the defendants filed an application to refer this case to the Complex Litigation Docket. The plaintiff consented to this referral and, on September 3, 2015, the court transferred the case to the Complex Litigation Docket.

         On September 10, 2015, the defendants filed a motion to dissolve and/or modify the ex parte prejudgment remedy entered by Judge Gilardi and to dismiss the action in its entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On September 24, 2015, the court, Miller, J., dissolved the prejudgment remedy. On May 31, 2016, the court, Miller, J., granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the action in its entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that "[t]he foreign ‘judgment' which the plaintiff seeks to enforce can only be enforced through chapter 15 of the United States Bankruptcy Act. Moreover, the Cayman ‘Winding-Up' proceeding could never qualify, under chapter 15, as a type of proceeding (main or nonmain) subject to judicial review.'' The plaintiff then filed the present appeal, in which it argues that the court erred in dismissing this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         "We first set forth the applicable standard of review and general principles of law. The standard of review for a court's decision on a motion to dismiss [under Practice Book § 10-30] is well settled. A motion to dismiss tests, inter alia, whether, on the face of the record, the court is without jurisdiction. . . . [O]ur review of the court's ultimate legal conclusion and resulting [determination] of the motion to dismiss will be de novo. . . . When a . . . court decides a jurisdictional question raised by a pretrial motion to dismiss, it must consider the allegations of the complaint in their most favorable light. . . . In this regard, a court must take the facts to be those alleged in the complaint, including those facts necessarily implied from the allegations, construing them in a manner most favorable to the pleader. . . . The motion to dismiss . . . admits all facts which are well pleaded, invokes the existing record and must be decided upon that alone. . . . In undertaking this review, we are mindful of the well established notion that, in determining whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction, every presumption favoring jurisdiction should be indulged.'' (Footnote omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Cuozzo v. Orange, 315 Conn. 606, 614, 109 A.3d 903 (2015).

         The plaintiff argues that the court erred in holding that chapter 15 of the United States Bankruptcy Code[3]prevented it from deciding this action for enforcement of a money judgment between private Connecticut parties. According to the plaintiff, a plain ...


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