Genger v GengerAnnotate this Case
Decided on January 3, 2013
Supreme Court, New York County
Arie Genger and ORLY GENGER, in her individual capacity and on behalf of THE ORLY GENGER 1993 TRUST, Plaintiffs,
Sagi Genger, TPR INVESTMENT ASSOCIATES, INC., DALIA GENGER, THE SAGI GENGER 1993 TRUST, ROCHELLE FANG, individually and as trustee of THE SAGI GENGER 1993 TRUST, GLENCLOVA INVESTMENT COMPANY, TR INVESTORS, LLC, NEW TR EQUITY I, LLC, NEW TR EQUITY II, LLC, JULES TRUMP, EDDIE TRUMP and MARK HIRSCH, Defendants.
For plaintiff Arie Genger:
Paul D. Montclare
Lauren J. Wachtler
MITCHELL SILBERBERG & KNUPP LLP
12 East 49th Street, 30th Floor
New York, New York 10017
For plaintiff Orly Genger and Orly Genger 1993 Trust:
Yoav M. Griver
Bryan D. Leinbach
ZEICHNER ELLMAN & KRAUSE
575 LEXINGTON AVENUE - 10TH FL
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
YANKWITT & MCGUIRE, LLP
140 GRAND STREET, PENTHOUSE #2 WHITE PLAINS, NY
For defendant TPR Investment Associates, Sagi Genger and Sagi Genger 1993 Trust:
DUANE MORRIS LLP
NEW YORK, NY
For defendant Dalia Genger:
Robert A. Meister
PEDOWITZ & MEISTER LLP
570 Lexington Avenue, 18th Floor
New York, New York 10022
For defendant Rochelle Fang and as Trustee for Sagi Genger 1993 Trust:
Desmond C.B. Lyons
LYONS MCGOVERN LLP
39 Knollwood Road, Suite 216
White Plains, New York 10603
For defendants GLENCLOVA INVESTMENT COMPANY, TR INVESTORS, LLC, NEW TR EQUITY I, LLC, NEW TR EQUITY II, LLC, JULES TRUMP, EDDIE TRUMP, MARK HIRSCH and TRANS-RESOURCES, INC. ("Trump Group"):
William P. Frank
Thomas J. Allingham II
Anthony W. Clark
Douglas D. Herrmann
SKADDEN, ARPS, SLATE, MEAGHER & FLOM LLP
4 Times Square
New York, New York 10036
Barbara Jaffe, J.
By notices of motion dated October 14, 2011, defendants move pursuant to CPLR 3211 for an order dismissing various causes of action asserted in the third amended and supplemental complaint of Arie Genger and his daughter Orly Genger, in her individual capacity and on behalf [*2]of the Orly Genger 1993 Trust (complaint). By order to show cause dated September 13, 2012, defendants Glenclova Investment Company, TR Investors, LLC, New TR Equity I, LLC, New TR Equity II, LLC, Jules Trump, Eddie Trump, and Mark Hirsch (Trump Group) move pursuant to CPLR 2214(c) for an order permitting them to supplement the record of its motion (sequence 15) with a recent decision of the Delaware Chancery Court. On or about October 17, 2012, I was assigned to Part 12 where this action pends.
In his complaint, Arie advances 10 causes of action including, as pertinent here, a declaratory judgment authorizing him to reform the divorce settlement stipulation between him and his ex-wife, Dalia Genger, the mother of Orly and Sagi Genger and trustee of the Orly Trust; constructive trust; breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty; unjust enrichment and rescission; breach of contract; tortious interference with contract, and aiding and abetting tortious interference of contract; and preliminary and permanent injunctions.
I. BACKGROUNDThe history of this action is set out in opinions rendered by the justice previously assigned, the Surrogate's Court, the Delaware Chancery Court, the Delaware Supreme Court, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Southern District). Therefore, the only background provided here is for the purpose of addressing the instant motions.
In 1993, as part of a family estate plan for the benefit of his children Sagi and Orly, Arie established the Sagi Trust and the Orly Trust (the Trusts). In 2001, TPR Investment Associates (TPR), a Genger family-controlled corporation, entered into a stockholders agreement with Trump Group, whereby Trump Group obtained the right to purchase all of TPR's 3,000 shares in Trans-Resources, Inc. (TRI), another Genger family-controlled corporation. The agreement also provided that consent was required for any share transfers, except those to a "permitted transferee." (Stockholders Agreement, § 3.1).
A. The divorce stipulation
In 2004, Arie and Dalia settled their bitterly contested divorce by entering into a so-ordered stipulation distributing their marital assets, including their interests in TPR and TRI. At the time, Arie held 51 percent of TPR's stock with the remaining 49 percent held by D & K Limited Partnership (D & K). Dalia held four percent of D & K; the Sagi Trust, and the Orly Trust held 48 percent each. TPR held 52.85 percent of TRI's common stock, and the remaining 47.15 percent was held by Trump Group.
Pursuant to the divorce stipulation and related documentation, Arie agreed to transfer his 51 percent interest in TPR to Dalia, with the proviso that TPR divest its 3,000 shares of TRI common stock on the following terms: (1) Sagi would become TPR's president and chief executive officer; (2) TPR would transfer to Arie 794.4 shares of TRI common stock (the Arie Shares), representing a 13.4 percent interest in TRI; (3) TPR would transfer to each of the Trusts 1,102.8 shares of TRI common stock (the Sagi Trust Shares and the Orly Trust Shares, each representing a 19.43 percent interest in TRI); and (4) each of the Trusts would execute agreements providing for, inter alia, Arie's irrevocable right to vote the Sagi Trust Shares and the Orly Trust Shares in TRI for the duration of his life. (2004 Transfers). The divorce stipulation includes a clause which provides, in effect, that in the event any of the terms therein are voided [*3]by a court of competent jurisdiction, the parties thereto may seek a court-ordered reformation of the affected terms to give effect to the parties' original intent. (Divorce Stipulation, Art. XVI, at 47-48).
In 2007, Dalia commenced an arbitration proceeding against Arie, contesting the distribution of marital assets under the divorce stipulation. In 2008, an arbitration award in the proximate amount of $3.85 million was entered in Dalia's favor.
B. Trump Group's acquisition of TRI shares
In early 2008, when TRI faced financial difficulties, Arie, now in control of TRI by virtue of the 2004 Transfers, explored the possibility of obtaining capital funding for it from Trump Group, in exchange for increasing Trump Group's equity position to become TRI's majority stockholder. While a funding plan was being negotiated and drafted, TRI's financial condition significantly improved. Arie then reneged on the funding agreement and threatened to sue Trump Group if it challenged the 2004 Transfers.
Subsequently, Trump Group asserted its right under the TRI stockholders agreement to purchase all of TPR's 3,000 TRI shares, and maintained that the 2004 Transfers under the divorce settlement and underlying transaction documents were invalid because Arie never sought its consent, as is required by the TRI stockholders agreement. Thus, on August 11, 2008, Trump Group filed an action in the Southern District against TPR and TRI, asserting that the 2004 Transfers were invalid as violative of the stockholders agreement. Arie intervened, and TPR interposed a third-party complaint against him, seeking a declaratory judgment that TPR is the true owner of all TRI shares, and that Arie had tortiously interfered with TPR's contractual and property rights in executing the divorce stipulation. In response, Arie asserted in his third-party answer various counterclaims substantially similar to those asserted in the instant action.
On or about August 22, 2008, Trump Group and TPR entered into a stock purchase agreement, whereby TPR agreed to sell the Sagi Trust's 1102.8 shares of TRI common stock to Trump Group for $26.7 million, which would result in Trump Group becoming TRI's majority stockholder. On the same day, the parties entered into a side letter agreement, whereby TPR agreed that, in the event that the 2004 Transfers of the TRI shares by TPR to the Orly Trust and Arie were determined to be invalid, Trump Group would be entitled to purchase directly from TPR the Orly Trust Shares and the Arie Shares at less than 60 percent of the per share price paid by Trump Group for the Sagi Trust Shares.
On August 25, 2008, after purchasing the Sagi Trust Shares from TPR, Trump Group commenced in the Delaware Chancery Court a "Section 225 proceeding" under Title 8 of the Delaware Code, asserting that it was in control of TRI via its purchase of the Sagi Trust Shares pursuant to the stock purchase agreement, and sought a judicial determination of the composition of TRI's board of directors. In an opinion dated July 23, 2010, the Chancery Court ruled, inter alia, that because the 2004 Transfers violated the TRI stockholders agreement, and because Trump Group never ratified the 2004 Transfers despite Arie's contrary allegation, by virtue of the stock purchase agreement, Trump Group owned the Sagi Trust Shares, giving it the majority voting control of TRI. (TR Investors, LLC, v Genger, 2010 WL 2901704 [Del. Ch. Ct. 2010]). The court concluded as follows:
[T]he Trump Group controls the Trans-Resources board for the following reasons: (1) the Trump Group never received notice of the 2004 Transfers, which were made in violation [*4]of the Stockholders Agreement, until June 2008; and (2) the Trump Group did not ratify those Transfers when it bought the transferred shares from Sagi Genger and TPR. Because it never ratified the wrongful transaction, the Trump Group was free to deal with the relevant transferor, TPR, and its transferee, the Sagi Trust, and settle the matter by acquiring the wrongly transferred shares in an agreed upon negotiation. In doing so, the Trump Group clearly reserved its position that TPR made a void transfer, has proven that its position was correct, and is entitled, as a result, to be deemed to have taken the shares from TPR as a settlement of the improper Transfers. In the alternative, even if the Trump Group ratified the 2004 Transfers-which it did not-I find that the Trump Group did not purchase the shares from Sagi Genger subject to the proxy in favor of Arie Genger. Therefore, the Trump Group holds a majority equity and voting stake in Trans-Resources, and its ability to vote its shares is unaffected by the proxy.
(TR Investors, LLC, 2010 WL 2901704, *2).
Thereafter, in an opinion dated August 9, 2010, the Chancery Court expanded its ruling, holding that the Arie and Orly Trust Shares transferred in 2004 were also invalid, thereby entitling Trump Group to buy those shares from TPR pursuant to the side letter agreement if it chose to do so. (TR Investors, LLC v Genger, 2010 WL 3279385 [Del. Ch. Ct. 2010]). Plaintiffs commenced the instant action promptly after the Chancery Court issued its July 2010 opinion.
While Arie was seeking relief in this court, he appealed the Chancery Court rulings. In an opinion dated July 19, 2011, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that part of the Chancery Court's findings and rulings that Trump Group had legally purchased the Sagi Trust Shares from TPR, giving it majority control of TRI, but it reversed the Chancery Court's August opinion as to the beneficial ownership of the Arie Shares and Orly Trust Shares absent personal jurisdiction over TPR and the Orly Trust which were not parties to the section 225 proceeding. (Genger v TR Investors, LLC, 26 A3d 180 [Del. Sup. Ct. 2011]). Promptly thereafter, Trump Group and Arie, which were parties to the Delaware court proceedings, negotiated a form of the Revised Final Judgment Order (Final Order) that reflected and implemented the various findings and rulings of the Delaware Chancery Court and the Delaware Supreme Court. It expressly provides that members of Trump Group are the "owners of . . . 67.7477 percent of the authorized and issued stock" of TRI, that TPR is the "record owner of all [TRI] shares not presently owned" by Trump Group, and that Arie and the Orly Trust "are not and have not been since at least the date of execution of the Stockholders Agreement the record owners of any [TRI] shares." (Final Order, ¶¶ 2-8). The Final Order was adopted and signed by the Chancery Court, and entered in the docket on or about August 19, 2011.
C. Additional lawsuits arising from Trump Group's acquisition of TRI shares
On about July 22, 2011, in response to the Delaware Supreme Court's ruling, Trump Group commenced an action against Arie and TPR in the Delaware Chancery Court, seeking a declaration that it is both the record and beneficial owner of the Arie Shares. On October 4, 2011, Dalia, as trustee of the Orly Trust, also filed an action in the Delaware Chancery Court against Trump Group and TPR, seeking a declaration that the Orly Trust is the beneficial owner of the Orly Trust Shares. Pursuant to two separate temporary restraining orders, dated October 26, 2011 and November 9, 2011, and issued by the previously assigned justice, Dalia, TPR and [*5]Trump Group were prohibited from proceeding with the Delaware declaratory judgment actions. In addition to the foregoing court actions, counsels for TPR and Trump Group, in their capacity as escrow agents with respect to the sales of the Orly Trust Shares and the Arie Shares to Trump Group, filed separate interpleader actions in the Southern District and deposited escrowed funds of approximately $10.3 million and $7.4 million, respectively, with the Southern District clerk. As a result, there were no less than six separate actions pending in three different jurisdictions relating to the issue of the beneficial ownership of the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares.
D. Instant motions
On March 13, 2012, oral argument on defendants' motions was heard by the previously assigned justice pending the Southern District's determination as to its jurisdiction to hear and adjudicate the primary issue of whether Arie and the Orly Trust each, respectively, has a beneficial interest in the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares, which is at the heart of the parties' dispute. In an opinion dated June 14, 2012, the Southern District observed that the parties had created "a headache-inducing jurisdictional conflict" in requesting that it "clean up the mess they made by determining which of the federal or state courts should decide the issue underpinning all their claims - that is, the beneficial ownership of the Arie Shares and Orly Trust Shares." (Glenclova Investments Co. v Trans-Resources, Inc., et al., __ F Supp 2d __, 2012 WL 2196670, at *5 [SDNY 2012]). While that court took "no position on the question of forum," in light of the temporary restraining orders staying litigation in Delaware as to the issue of beneficial ownership of the Orly Trust Shares and "the difficulty the Delaware Chancery Court may have in obtaining personal jurisdiction over Arie and Orly," the Southern District concluded that the foregoing "strongly suggests that the parties agree to litigate their claims in the New York Supreme Court." (Id. at 19).
In considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7), the court must determine whether the pleadings state a cause of action. The motion must be denied if, from the four corners of the pleadings, factual allegations are discerned which, taken together, manifest any cause of action cognizable at law. (Richbell Info. Servs. v Jupiter Partners, 309 AD2d 288, 289 [1st Dept 2003], quoting 511 W. 232nd Owners Corp. v Jennifer Realty Corp., 98 NY2d 144, 151-152 ). The pleadings are afforded a liberal construction, and the court is to accord plaintiffs the benefit of every possible favorable inference. (Simkin v Blank, 19 NY3d 46, 52 ). However, while factual allegations in a complaint should be accorded every favorable inference, bare legal conclusions and inherently incredible facts are insufficient. (Matter of Sud v Sud, 211 AD2d 423, 424 [1st Dept 1995]).
Moreover, "[w]hen the moving party offers evidentiary material, the court is required to determine whether the proponent of the [complaint] has a cause of action, not whether [he or] she has stated one." (Asgahar v Tringali Realty, Inc., 18 AD3d 408, 409 [2d Dept 2005]). And, a cause of action may not be maintained if it is barred by, inter alia, collateral estoppel, res judicataor issue preclusion. (CPLR 3211[a]).
A. Trump Group's motion to dismiss (motion sequence number 011)
The complaint contains the following causes of action against Trump Group: declaratory judgment to reform the divorce stipulation (first cause of action); constructive trust, unjust [*6]enrichment, rescission, breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting or conspiracy to commit a breach (second, third, fourth, and fifth causes of action); tortious interference with contract (ninth cause of action); and preliminary and permanent injunction (fifth and tenth causes of action). The gist of the complaint is that, because the 2004 Transfers effected by the divorce stipulation were held void and unenforceable by the Delaware courts, the divorce stipulation must be reformed in such a manner that Arie will resume beneficial ownership of the 3,000 shares of TRI stock that TPR owned before the 2004 Transfers. According to plaintiffs, any act of defendants that is inconsistent with Arie's beneficial ownership in such shares of stock is actionable and warrants the payment of damages.
1. Collateral estoppel
Seeking dismissal of the complaint, Trump Group argues that plaintiffs' claims are collaterally estopped by the Delaware courts' determination of factual and legal issues and even if plaintiffs are entitled to relitigate the issues underlying their claims, the complaint nonetheless does not state a cause of action. It identifies the following issues of fact and law that were decided by the Delaware courts: the invalidity of the 2004 Transfers that Arie caused TPR to make to himself and to the Orly and Sagi Trusts in violation of the TRI stockholders agreement, thereby entitling Trump Group to purchase all of TPR's 3,000 shares of stock in TRI; Trump Group's entitlement to control TRI as of 2004 when Arie caused TPR to breach the stockholders agreement; Arie's failure to provide notice of the 2004 Transfers and to obtain Trump Group's consent to the Transfers, which violated the stockholders agreement; and Trump Group's ownership of 67.7 percent of TRI shares upon its purchase of the Sagi Trust Shares from TPR pursuant to the 2008 purchase agreement with TPR, which is now controlled by Sagi, as its current president and chief executive officer.
Arie argues in opposition that because: (1) the issues listed by Trump Group were decided in a statutorily limited section 225 in rem summary proceeding and not in a plenary action; and (2) the Delaware Supreme Court held that an adjudication of the right to vote corporate shares is not binding with respect to the beneficial ownership of such shares, the section 225 proceeding in the Chancery Court did not result in a determination of the beneficial ownership of all 3,000 TRI shares. He also contends that the Delaware courts' findings do not bind him because they neither conflict with the causes of action he advances in his complaint, nor are they essential to the Delaware courts' determinations, and because the court imposed on him a higher burden of proof. (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 11-13; Hearing Transcript, March 13, 2012, at 63). He does not contend that he did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate in the Delaware courts. Rather, he contends that "essential parties were missing." (Arie's opposition brief, at 14).
Orly joins Arie's arguments and adds that, contrary to the position taken by TPR and Sagi, as well as Trump Group, she has legal standing to represent the Orly Trust, per the holding of the previously assigned justice. (Genger v Genger, NY County, June 28, 2010, Feinman, J., index no. 109749/2009). Thus, both she and Dalia assert that they may act on behalf of the Orly Trust unless and until the Surrogate's Court rules otherwise in an appropriate action there. Orly also denies that she is collaterally estopped by the Delaware decisions as she was not a party to those proceedings and had no opportunity to litigate the issues there.
While a non-party may not be estopped from arguing a position previously litigated, many [*7]of the issues listed by Trump Group are closely related to the Delaware courts' invalidation of the 2004 Transfers and constitute the primary bases for the instant action, and Orly does not allege that her participation as a litigant or party in the Delaware proceedings would have altered the Delaware courts' findings and rulings that relate to the invalidation. In any event, the Delaware Supreme Court recognized that Delaware has no jurisdiction over the Orly Trust and TPR, and thus specifically left open the issue of the beneficial ownership of the Orly Trust Shares. Thus, that Orly did not litigate the 2004 Transfers issues in Delaware does not appear to have prejudiced her rights, and she does not argue otherwise. And, as Arie is estopped from arguing some of the issues (infra, at 12-16), and as Orly does not distinguish her arguments and issues from Arie's, instead fully adopting them, to the extent that the Delaware findings and rulings on the issues relating to such arguments apply to both Arie and Orly, and to which this court gives full faith and credit (US Const, art IV, § 1; Ho v McCarthy, 90 AD3d 710, 711 [2d Dept 2011]), they also bind Orly here. In this regard, I need not decide whether there is any merit to Trump Group's argument that, although Orly and the Orly Trust were not parties in the Delaware proceedings, their interest was fully represented by Arie, who acted as a fiduciary, was in privity with Orly, and actively litigated the issues raised in the Delaware proceedings on behalf of Orly and the Orly Trust.
Accordingly, where applicable, or unless otherwise specified or the context otherwise requires, all references hereinafter to "Arie" include "Orly" and the "Orly Trust." However, to avoid any possibility of risk or confusion, the decretal paragraphs set forth at the conclusion of this decision and order will, where applicable, reflect the separate rulings with respect to Arie and Orly and/or the Orly Trust.
In claiming that he retains a beneficial interest in all 3,000 TRI shares including the Sagi Trust Shares purchased by Trump Group from TPR, Arie overlooks the Final Order which he himself negotiated and which gives neither Arie nor the Orly Trust record ownership of any TRI shares. And he identifies no clause or provision in the Delaware courts' opinions suggesting that he has a beneficial ownership interest in the Sagi Trust Shares. Therefore, any allegation or claim by Arie in opposition to Trump Group's motion that TPR's record ownership of all 3,000 TRI shares "remained subject to his beneficial ownership claims" has no factual or legal basis. (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 15-17). Indeed, Arie acknowledges that "[t]he Chancery Court also held that the Trumps owned the Sagi [Trust] shares under the 2008 Agreement and that the Sagi Trust Irrevocable Proxy [held by Arie] was not valid under New York or Delaware law." (Id. at 9).
Many of Arie's claims against Trump Group in this action are integrally related to the Delaware courts' invalidation of the 2004 Transfers, and the Delaware Supreme Court noted that Arie had "voluntarily asked the trial court to determine that he beneficially owned 13.99 percent" of TRI shares, and that Arie and Trump Group "were legally free to consent to the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery exercising plenary in personam jurisdiction over themselves personally." (Genger v TR Investors, LLC, 26 A3d 180, 202 [Del. Sup. Ct. 2011]).
That a section 225 proceeding was in rem has no bearing on the preclusive effect of a decision on a subsequent action. (Johnston v Arbitrium [Cayman Islands] Handels AG, 198 F3d 342, 348 [2d Cir 1999] ["Under applicable Delaware law . . . the determination of an issue actually litigated and decided against a defendant in an in rem case may have collateral estoppel [*8]effect in a subsequent in personam proceeding"]). In Johnston, the Second Circuit expressly rejected the argument that issues decided in a section 225 proceeding concerning disputed ownership and control of corporate shares couldnot collaterally estop claims raised in a subsequent in personam action involving findings and determinations made in the prior in rem action. And TPR and the Orly Trust's absence from Delaware was the basis for the Delaware Supreme Court's reversal of the Chancery Court's ruling with respect to the issue of beneficial ownership of the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares, but not as to other findings and rulings of the Chancery Court.
The higher burden of proof imposed on Arie in the Chancery Court to prove the factual issues by clear and convincing evidence is immaterial. The Second Circuit in Kosakow v New Rochelle Radiology Assoc., analyzed applicable New York law, as set forth by the Court of Appeals in Schwartz and followed in Parker, supra, and stated, in relevant part:
The Schwartz opinion counsels that a functional approach should be taken in analyzing collateral estoppel in New York, and that it should not be applied rigidly . . . Notably, under this functional test, the court did not mention the burden of proof, let alone describe it as a dispositive factor. While there is a certain logical appeal to the decision in Nesbitt [that collateral estoppel may not apply if there is a difference in the burden of proof], the value of collateral estoppel in fostering judicial economy and avoiding inconsistent results would be severely compromised if every shift in the burden of proof would make collateral estoppel unavailable.
. . . It follows that the New York Court of Appeals would similarly reject the proposition that collateral estoppel can never be applied where there is a difference in the burden of proof. Schwartz's practical approach to the issue dictates that parties not be permitted to relitigate the same issues, despite differing burdens of proof, where it is evident that burden of proof played little or no role in the prior factual determination.
(Kosakow, 274 F3d 706, 731-732[2d Cir 2001][emphasis added]). Absent any New York authority to the contrary offered by Arie, Kosakow is persuasive. Moreover, the Chancery Court imposed on Arie a higher burden of proof as a sanction for spoliating evidence and contempt of court. To permit him to relitigate his claims here would render the sanction nugatory.
And, following Kosakow, the Second Circuit recently held that where a plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate her claims in an earlier Article 78 proceeding under New York law, she was collaterally estopped from advancing those claims in the federal action notwithstanding the difference in the applicable burdens of proof between the proceeding and a subsequent action in the federal court. (Constantine v Teachers Coll., 448 Fed Appx 92, 94-95, 2011 WL 4509542 [2d Cir 2011]).
Most importantly, the underlying facts and record clearly reflect that Arie had a full and fair opportunity in the Delaware courts to litigate the issues regarding invalidation of the 2004 Transfers. (Schwartz v Public Adm'r of County of Bronx, 24 NY2d 65, 73  [while burden of proving identity of issues rests on proponent of collateral estoppel, opponent bears burden of proving that he or she did not have full and fair opportunity to litigate issuesin earlier action]); accord Parker v Blauvelt Volunteer Fire Co., 93 NY2d 343, 349 ).Accordingly, to the extent that the allegations in support of the causes of action asserted in the complaint are contradicted by the findings and rulings of the Delaware courts, Arie is collaterally estopped [*9]from relitigating them. (CPLR 3211[a]).
2. Declaratory judgment to reform the divorce stipulation (first cause of action)
Arie seeks a declaratory judgment against Trump Group and other defendants to reform the divorce stipulation based on: (1) the provision giving the parties the right to seek a
court-ordered reformation to reflect their original intent in the event that any portion of the stipulation is held to be invalid; (2) the Delaware courts' invalidation of the 2004 Transfers and the irrevocable proxies held by Arie to vote the Orly Trust Shares and the Sagi Trust Shares; and
(3) his and Dalia's mutual mistake in believing that the 2004 Transfers and the irrevocable proxies were valid. In seeking reformation, Arie wants, inter alia, the 3,000 TRI shares held by TPR prior to the 2004 Transfers placed in a new entity to be controlled by him, and for him to retain all voting rights to such shares. (Complaint, ¶¶ 175-189). This is the only cause of action where Orly and the Orly Trust are not co-plaintiffs with Arie.
The Southern District observed not only that the instant action is "little more than a collateral attack on the Delaware Supreme Court ruling," but that authorizing Arie to reform the corporate ownership structure in TPR and TRI, including allowing him to retain his voting rights in all 3,000 shares of TRI stock, constitutes a collateral attack on the Delaware courts' determinations, whereby they unequivocably ruled, inter alia, that he has no right to vote any of the shares because the irrevocable voting proxies held by him pursuant to the 2004 Transfers are invalid. (Glenclova Investments Co. v Trans-Resources, Inc., et al., __ F Supp 2d __, 2012 WL 2196670, at *5). It also noted that Arie's federal counterclaims, which are substantially similar to those advanced here, including the reformation claim, are directed against 13 counterclaiming defendants including Dalia, even though 12 of them were not parties to the divorce stipulation, and "the majority of the counterclaims do not name Dalia at all." (Id. at 17). Moreover, the Southern District observed that:
even though Arie is the party who made false representations in the [Divorce] Stipulation of Settlement, his reformation claim does not seek to right that wrong. Instead, he wants to change the terms of the [Stipulation] in a manner designed to undo the Delaware Chancery Court's finding of liability against him, thereby allowing him to avoid the consequences of his own breach of the 2001 [TRI] Stockholders Agreement - Trump Group's right to purchase those invalidly transferred shares.
(Id. at 17). Consequently, Arie is collaterally estopped from seeking a declaratory judgment to reform the divorce stipulation, at least as asserted against Trump Group, as it is "little more than a collateral attack on the Delaware Supreme Court ruling," and as Trump Group is not a party to the divorce stipulation. Although Arie maintains that Trump Group is a necessary party because it holds the 3,000 TRI shares needed to implement the reformation, the remedy of reformation or rescission is unavailable against a nonparty to a contract. (Baranek v Baranek, 54 AD3d 789, 790 [2d Dept 2008]).
And, as Trump Group was not a party to the divorce stipulation, Arie's and Dalie's alleged "mutual mistake" in effecting the 2004 Transfers is immaterial and may not be used as a defense in Arie's dispute with Trump Group. Moreover, Arie seeks to undo the Delaware courts' adverse findings against him and Trump Group's right to buy the "invalidly transferred shares," notwithstanding that they were transferred as a result of his misrepresentation in the divorce [*10]stipulation that no consent, other than TPR's, was required for the 2004 Transfers. In any event, any equitable or contractual right in favor of Arie to reform the divorce stipulation does not override the pre-existing contractual right of Trump Group to purchase the invalidly transferred shares, when it was Arie then in control of TPR who caused TPR to breach the TRI stockholders agreement.
3. Constructive trust, unjust enrichment and rescission (second and fourth causes of action)
The elements of a cause of action for a constructive trust are: "(1) a confidential or fiduciary relation; (2) a promise, express or implied; (3) a transfer made in reliance on that promise; and (4) unjust enrichment." (Wachovia Sec., LLC v Joseph, 56 AD3d 269, 271 [1st Dept 2008]). Arie asserts that New York courts frequently impose constructive trusts with "sufficient flexibility" to prevent enrichment and that the "constructive trust doctrine is not rigidly limited." (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 20).
Arie alleges that Trump Group is not a bona fide purchaser, and that a constructive trust should be imposed in his favor with respect to all 3,000 shares of TRI stock that reverted to TPR because Trump Group, as well as Sagi, TPR's current president, owe fiduciary and contractual duties to Arie and the Orly Trust. (Id. at 23). According to Trump Group, however, it had neither a confidential nor fiduciary relationship with Arie and/or the Orly Trust.
Courts have held that "a person wrongfully acquiring property can be treated as a constructive trustee notwithstanding the lack of a fiduciary relationship." (See eg In re Koreag, Controle et Revision S.A. v Refco F/X Assoc., 961 F2d 341, 353 [2d Cir 1992]), citing Simonds v Simonds, 45 NY2d 233, 242 ). Whether Trump Group was a bona fide purchaser or whether it owed a confidential or fiduciary relationship need not be decided for purposes of addressing Arie's claim for a constructive trust.
In an earlier decision in this action dated January 28, 2012 (motion sequence numbers 004 and 005), the previously assigned justice denied plaintiffs' request for an order enjoining defendants from taking certain actions, including any act to sell or transfer the Arie and Orly Trust Shares pending a final adjudication of beneficial interest, finding that an injunction would interfere with TRI's management in which Trump Group holds majority control, that plaintiffs have alternative remedies even if they obtain a final judicial determination of beneficial interest, and that requiring Trump Group and TPR to comply with the court's order in giving 10 business days' notice to plaintiffs of a proposed future transaction, except with respect to share dilution, is sufficient to maintain the status quo. (Genger v Genger, Dec. 28, 2011 [Sup Ct, NY County]).
The same considerations render unnecessary Arie's claim for a constructive trust as, inter alia, the notice requirement affords plaintiffs a sufficient opportunity to seek judicial relief in the event that defendants propose to enter into a transaction that may adversely affect plaintiffs' asserted interest in the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares.
In order to plead a cause of action for unjust enrichment adequately, a plaintiff must allege "that (1) the other party was enriched, (2) at that party's expense, and (3) that it is against equity and good conscience to permit the other party to retain what is sought to be recovered." (Georgia Malone, Inc. v Rieder, 19 NY3d 511, 515 , citing Mandarin Trading Ltd. v Wildenstein, 16 NY3d 173, 182 ).
In his complaint, Arie alleges, inter alia, that: (1) TPR/Sagi had no authority to sell the 3,000 TRI shares to Trump Group when the Delaware courts had determined that the 2004 [*11]Transfers were void ab initio as the shares then reverted to TPR subject to Arie's interest by virtue of the divorce stipulation; (2) the purchase price paid by Trump Group for the 3,000 TRI shares under the purchase agreement for the Sagi Trust Shares and the side letter agreement for the Arie Shares and Orly Trust Shares was a fraction of the value of such shares; and (3) Trump Group was not a bona fide purchaser and would be unjustly enriched if allowed to benefit from TPR's sale of the TRI shares.
Trump Group does not specifically deny that the per share price paid for the Arie and the Orly Trust Shares was significantly lower than that for the Sagi Trust Shares, and its assertion that the Delaware courts have held that it was "entitled to buy TPR's TRI shares at 2004 values, which were far less than the $26 million Trump Group paid TPR just for the Sagi Trust Shares" does not defeat a claim of unjust enrichment because that portion of the Chancery Court's opinion does not address the purchase price for the Arie Shares and Orly Trust Shares or the side letter agreement, nor does it compare the per share price difference. Moreover, Trump Group's contention that the claim for unjust enrichment requires a fiduciary or confidential relationship, and must be pleaded with specificity, is not supported by the opinions it cites in its moving papers. Rather, a fiduciary or confidential relation is an element of a constructive trust claim.(Supra, at 16-17). Consequently, Arie has sufficiently alleged, for the purpose of CPLR 3211(a)(7), a claim for unjust enrichment.
Rescission is a part of the fourth cause of action. As Trump Group was not a party to the divorce stipulation, and for the reasons fully discussed above in connection with the dismissal of the reformation claim (supra, at 16-18), rescission does not lie against Trump Group.
4. Permanent injunction (fifth cause of action) and preliminary injunction (tenth cause of action)
Plaintiffs seek to preliminarily and permanently enjoin Trump Group from transferring, selling, pledging, assigning, diluting, voting or otherwise disposing of all3,000 shares of TRI stock that reverted to TPR as a result of the Delaware court rulings. The reasons set forth above for dismissing the constructive trust claim (supra, at 16-18) apply equally here. In addition, the Delaware courts held that Arie and the Orly Trust are not the record owners of any TRI shares, and that no TRI shares owned by Trump Group or owned of record by TPR are subject to any proxy of any kind in favor of Arie. (Final Order, ¶¶ 7-10). Thus, granting the requested injunctive relief in plaintiffs' favor to enjoin Trump Group and TPR from exercising their respective voting rights in the TRI shares would constitute a collateral attack on the court rulings.
5. Breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty
(third cause of action)
The elements of a cause of action for a breach of fiduciary duty are: "the existence of a fiduciary relationship . . . misconduct by the defendant, and . . . damages . . . caused by the defendant's misconduct." (Rut v Young Adult Inst., Inc., 74 AD3d 776, 777 [2d Dept 2010]). Arie alleges, inter alia, that: (1) upon becoming the majority shareholder of TRI in 2008 after purchasing the Sagi Trust Shares from TPR, Trump Group owed a fiduciary duty to him and the Orly Trust as the "known beneficial owners" of the Arie Shares and Orly Trust Shares in TRI; and (2) as a majority shareholder, Trump Group breached its fiduciary duty by purchasing the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares at a significant discount, thereby advancing its scheme to squeeze Arie out of TRI. (Complaint, ¶¶ 209-214). [*12]
Although Trump Group does not deny that it became a majority shareholder of TRI after it purchased the Sagi Trust Shares in 2008 and that as a majority shareholder, it owed a fiduciary duty to TRI minority shareholders (Richbell Info. Servs., 309 AD2d at 300 ["(a) majority shareholder in a close corporation is in a fiduciary relationship with the minority"]), it denies knowing that plaintiffs were beneficial owners of any TRI shares, and thus could owe them no fiduciary duty.
Even assuming that Trump Group was unaware that plaintiffs were beneficial owners in 2008 when it entered into the side letter agreement to buy the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares, it became aware of it by 2011 when it exercised its option to buy Arie's and the Orly Trust's shares, as since at least 2008, they asserted beneficial ownership in the shares, even if it had not yet been judicially determined.
Trump Group also denies owing any duty because when it executed the side letter agreement it was not a majority shareholder, and that, even assuming it owed a fiduciary duty, the sole duty was to refrain from using its majority power to oppress the minority, and Arie does not allege that TPR, the minority shareholder, was oppressed.
Here, the fiduciary duty arose in 2008 after the Sagi Trust Shares were purchased, and the allegation is that the duty was breached in 2011 when Trump Group bought the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares at a deep discount with the intent of removing plaintiffs, who have claimed, at least indirectly, to be putative minority shareholders of TRI through their interest in TPR, after the Delaware courts ruled that the 2004 Transfers were void and the transferred Arie Shares and Orly Trust Shares reverted to TPR. In any event, "whether such [fiduciary] obligation exists is necessarily fact-specific to the particular case," and it would be premature to dismiss the claim before discovery is undertaken to ascertain the facts. (Weiner v Lazard Freres & Co., 241 AD2d 114, 122 [1st Dept 1998]). Consequently, for all of these reasons and for purposes of CPLR 3211(a)(7), the complaint adequately states a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against Trump Group.
It is also alleged, in addition to the direct breach of fiduciary duty, that Trump Group conspired with other defendants, and aided and abetted them in the breach of their fiduciary duty. To state a claim of aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty, the complaint must contain facts to support "a fiduciary duty owed to plaintiff . . . a breach of that duty, and [the] defendant's substantial assistance in effecting the breach,"' which resulted in damages. (Monaghan v Ford Motor Co., 71 AD3d 848, 850 [2d Dept 2010]). While an entity such as TPR owes no fiduciary duty to its shareholders under New York and Delaware laws, as argued by Trump Group, the complaint is replete with allegations that Sagi, as TPR's president, breached fiduciary duties he owed to Arie, as well as other allegations that the 2008 purchase agreement and the side letter agreement constituted a $26.7 million bribe offered by Trump Group to Sagi, to betray and rob his father and sister of their interests in the relevant TRI shares, and to squeeze them out of TRI at unconscionably low prices. (Complaint, ¶¶ 123, 135).
The complaint thus contains sufficient factual allegations supporting a claim that Sagi breached his fiduciary duty to Arie (infra, at 27-28), as does the claim that Trump Group aided and abetted Sagi in breaching it. Moreover, "actual knowledge" of the alleged wrongdoing "need only be pleaded generally . . . particularly at the pre-discovery stage." (Oster v Kirschner, 77 AD3d 51, 55 [1st Dept 2010]). [*13]
However, the complaint is not only bereft of an explicit and independent allegation of conspiracy, but such a cause of action does not exist, as it is well settled that "a mere conspiracy to commit a [tort] is never of itself a cause of action," even though allegations of a conspiracy are permitted to connect defendants with an otherwise actionable tort. (See Alexander & Alexander v Fritzen, 68 NY2d 968, 969 ).
6. Tortious interference with contract (eighth cause of action)
The elements of a cause of action for tortious interference of contract are: "(1) the existence of a valid contract between the plaintiff and a third party, (2) the defendant's knowledge of that contract, (3) the defendant's intentional procurement of the third party's breach of that contract, and (4) damages." (Chung v Wang, 79 AD3d 693, 694 [2d Dept 2010]).
The complaint contains allegations that Trump Group interfered with several contracts, including the divorce stipulation, the 2004 Transfer documents between Arie and TPR, and the 2004 voting trust agreements between Arie and the Orly and Sagi Trusts. However, absent any allegation in the complaint that Dalia breached the divorce stipulation and the related documentation, there can be no finding that Trump Group tortiously interfered with the divorce stipulation and the related documentation.
Although the Delaware courts held that the 2004 Transfers are void, Arie argues that the Delaware Chancery Court held that the 2004 Transfers are unenforceable, whereas the 2004 Transfer documents and the 2004 voting trust agreements are void. (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 32). He also maintains, however, that "[on] July 23, 2010, the Delaware Chancery Court issued a lengthy written decision which held that the 2004 transfers of TPR's TRI shares to Arie, the Sagi Trust and the Orly Trust pursuant to the Divorce Decree were void . . . ." (Id. at 9). Arie then asks that instead of considering the illegal contract void in toto, the illegal provision be severed, thereby permitting the validation of the balance of the agreement. (Id. at 33). In his view, because the 2004 Transfer documents and voting trust agreements contained "valid and binding provisions" that required Sagi and TPR to take "all necessary actions . . . to complete or perfect the transactions contemplated hereby," a tortious interference claim may be alleged against Trump Group for causing the other defendants to breach these contractual provisions. (Id.).
Trump Group, however, rightly maintains that "because the 2001 Stockholders Agreement prohibited any transfers to the Trusts, any purported obligations on the part of TPR and Sagi to cooperate with such improper transfers cannot be enforced and cannot give rise to an interference claim [against Trump Group.]" (Trump Group's Reply Brief, at 19). And, as Arie failed to provide notice to Trump Group with respect to TPR's transfer of the Arie Shares to himself, which notice was required by the stockholders agreement even though he was a permitted transferee, the transfer of the Arie Shares was also void, as determined by the Delaware court.
B. Motion of TPR and Sagi Trust to dismiss (motion sequence number 010), motion of Rochelle Fang, individually and as trustee of Sagi Trust to dismiss (motion sequence number 009), and motion of Sagi to dismiss (motion sequence number 007)
The complaint contains various causes of action against TPR, Sagi Trust, Sagi and Rochelle Fang (Fang), trustee of the Sagi Trust, including: a declaratory judgment to reform the divorce stipulation (first cause of action); constructive trust (second cause of action); breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the breach of fiduciary duty (third cause of [*14]action); unjust enrichment and rescission (fourth cause of action); breach of contract (sixth and seventh causes of action); aiding and abetting tortious interference with contract (ninth cause of action); as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions (fifth and tenth causes of action). These defendants seek the dismissal of all of these causes of action as asserted against each of them. They also contend that this court lacks jurisdiction over the Sagi Trust, but they do not refute the assertion that the Sagi Trust is a New York trust and that its beneficiary resides in New York.
1. Declaratory judgment for reformation (first cause of action)
It cannot be disputed that TPR, Sagi Trust, Sagi, and Fang are not parties to the divorce stipulation. Yet, Arie argues in opposition to these defendants' motions to dismiss that, because reformation of the divorce stipulation requires these defendants' participation, they are "necessary parties" to the reformation process and that complete relief cannot be obtained in their absence. (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 9-10). The reasons set forth above, in connection with Trump Group's motion to dismiss the declaratory judgment for reformation against it (supra, at 14-16), apply equally to the instant claim against these defendants.
2. Constructive trust, unjust enrichment and rescission (second and fourth causes of action)
The cause of action for a constructive trust claim against TPR, Sagi, the Sagi Trust and Fang fails for the same reasons set forth above in connection with dismissal of that cause of action against Trump Group. (Supra, at 16-18). More specifically, as TPR and Sagi are required to give 10 days' notice to plaintiffs of a proposed transaction (except share dilution) involving the Arie and Orly Trust Shares (Genger v Genger, Dec. 28, 2011 [Sup Ct, NY County]), such notice is sufficient to afford them an opportunity to seek any necessary judicial relief.
Arie argues that allowing TPR to retain any benefit arising from its record ownership of the TRI shares that reverted to it as a result of invalidation of the 2004 Transfers constitutes unjust enrichment because TPR had divested itself of such TRI shares "in consideration for and as a condition of Arie giving up his 51 percent ownership interest in TRI." (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 10-12). However, it was Arie who had control of TPR before the 2004 Transfers and it was he who caused TPR to enter into the 2004 Transfers, which were invalidated by the Delaware courts.
However, to the extent that Arie alleges in the complaint that TPR entered into the 2008 side letter agreement with Trump Group to sell the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares at a discount and that TPR benefited from the transaction at his expense and that of Orly and the Orly Trust, there exists a viable claim of unjust enrichment, which the Chancery Court apparently noticed when it observed that "it may be that [Arie] Genger and Orly Genger have claims against TPR and Sagi Genger over how the price paid by Trump Group for the Arie and Orly Shares was allocated . . . If those transferees [i.e., Arie and the Orly Trust] have any beef with TPR or Sagi Genger, the transferees are free to file suit against them." (TR Investors, LLC v Genger, 2010 WL 3279385, *3 [Del. Ch. Ct. 2010]).
Arie also argues that an inference must be drawn that "Fang benefited at Arie's expense from her involvement in the conspiracy designed to squeeze [him] out of TRI [and] her central role and complicity in accepting the $26.7 million bribe paid to the Sagi Trust by Trump Group for the purported sale of the Sagi Trust TRI shares." (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 12). He fails to allege, however, with any particularity, that Fang, individually or in her capacity as trustee of the [*15]Sagi Trust, was unjustly enriched, and at oral argument, Arie's counsel stated, in relevant part that the "claim is for aiding and abetting. For some reason [Fang] was brought back for a very short period of time . . . to execute the 2008 Stockholders [sic] Agreement, and we have alleged that they aided and abetted each other . . . and that [Fang] was the alter ego and co-agent of Sagi in his breaches of fiduciary duty. That is why she's in the case." (Hearing Transcript, March 13, 2012, at 139). Thus, the claim against Fang is based on her aiding and abetting Sagi in his breach of fiduciary duty, rather than on the allegation that she was unjust enriched, either individually or as trustee for the Sagi Trust. Moreover, Arie does not explain in either the complaint or his Opposition Brief how the Sagi Trust itself was unjustly enriched, and Arie failed in the Delaware court proceedings to mount a successful challenge to Trump Group's purchase of the Sagi Trust Shares.
Sagi contends that as unjust enrichment constitutes a "quasi-contract claim" and as there are "written contracts dealing with the same subject matter," the cause of action for unjust enrichment is not viable. (Sash Affirmation in Support of [Sagi] Motion to Dismiss, ¶ 12). However, Arie, Orly and/or the Orly Trust were not parties to the 2008 side letter agreement and thus they have no standing to assert a breach of contract claim. Moreover, the side letter agreement was executed by Trump Group and TPR, by Sagi, and he knew or should have known that Arie and Orly have asserted beneficial interest claims in the Arie Shares and Orly Trust Shares since at least 2008, but he nonetheless caused TPR to sell the Shares in 2011 at an allegedly heavily discounted price. Indeed, Arie asserts that TPR is controlled by Sagi, and that Sagi, inter alia, breached his fiduciary duties and was unjustly enriched. In light of the foregoing, and given the position of the Delaware Chancery Court on the issue (supra, at 25-26), the unjust enrichment claim against Sagi is viable.
As TPR, Sagi, the Sagi Trust and Fang were not parties to the divorce stipulation, however, the cause of action seeking rescission has no factual or legal basis. (Supra, at 19).
3. Breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy and aiding and abetting breach (third cause of action)
Arie fails to set forth any statutory or decisional law for the proposition that a corporation, such as TPR, takes on or otherwise assumes the fiduciary duties of its directors and officers such as Sagi, to its purported shareholders, such as Arie and the Orly Trust. Indeed, a corporation owes no fiduciary duties to its shareholders. (See Gates v Bea Assoc., Inc., 1990 WL 180137, *6 [SD NY 1990] [to permit aiding and abetting claim against corporation would "completely undermine and negate the rule that a corporation does not have fiduciary duties to its shareholders."]).
The breach of fiduciary claim against the Sagi Trust and Fang is based, according to Arie, on their obligation, individually and as trustee under the divorce stipulation and the 2004 Transaction documents, to ensure that Arie would maintain voting control over the Sagi Trust Shares for the duration of his life. (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 17). However, the voting trust agreements and the proxies held by Arie with respect to the Sagi Trust and Orly Trust Shares as well as the Arie Shares were invalidated by the Delaware courts, due to Arie's breach or violation of the stockholders agreement.
Arie also alleges that the Sagi Trust and Fang aided and abetted Sagi and Trump Group in breaching the respective fiduciary duties they owed to him. As the Delaware courts upheld the sale of the Sagi Trust Shares to Trump Group, and absent any allegation that the Sagi Trust and [*16]Fang owe Arie a fiduciary duty with respect to the Arie Shares and the Orly Trust Shares, the Sagi Trust and Fang could not have aided and abetted Trump Group or Sagi in breaching their fiduciary duties in such a transaction. Similarly, the complaint does not set forth facts as to why Orly can assert a breach of fiduciary duty claim against Fang, inasmuch as Orly does not allege that she is also a beneficiary of the Sagi Trust which Fang served as the trustee.
Sagi conclusorily denies owing a fiduciary duty to Arie, just as TPR owes no fiduciary duty to Arie. However, the complaint is replete with allegations of a fiduciary duty owed to Arie by Sagi, individually and as a TPR officer, which was breached by Sagi in causing TPR to enter into the stock purchase and side letter agreements, when he used his position as president of TPR and caused TPR to sell the Arie and Orly Trust Shares to Trump Group at a fraction of their fair market value. And, Sagi does not dispute that a director or officer of a corporation owes fiduciary duties to the corporation and its shareholders. Indeed, the Southern District observed that, even if Arie's reformation counterclaim constitutes a basis for abstaining from exercising jurisdiction, certain of his other counterclaims do not compel abstention, "particularly the claims for breach of fiduciary duty against Sagi and others (premised on Sagi's implementation of the 2008 side letter agreements on behalf of TPR) . . . ." (Glenclova Investments Co. v Trans-Resources, Inc., et al., __ F Supp 2d __, 2012 WL 2196670, at *17 [SDNY 2012]). The aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty claim against Sagi also survives Sagi's motion to dismiss, as discussed above relating to the survival of the breach of fiduciary duty claim against Trump Group (supra, at 20-22), and it is alleged that Sagi assisted or aided and abetted Trump Group in the breach of such duty.
4. Breach of contract against TPR and Sagi Trust (sixth and seventh causes of action)
To state a claim for breach of contract, the complaint must allege the existence of a contract, plaintiff's performance, defendant's nonperformance, and resulting damages. (Elisa Dreier Reporting Corp. v Global NAPS Networks, Inc., 84 AD3d 122, 127 [2d Dept 2011]).
Arie alleges that "TPR breached the 2004 Transfer Agreement by executing the 2008 Stock Purchase and Side Letter Agreements and purporting to sell the TRI shares to Trump Group in disregard of Arie's beneficial and voting rights, thereby failing to effectuate the express intent of the parties to the 2004 Transaction Documents and the [divorce stipulation.]" (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 22). As discussed supra, at 25, Arie brought about his own loss of voting rights in the TRI shares, in spite of the voting trust agreements and the irrevocable proxies held by him, by causing TPR to enter into the 2004 Transfers without obtaining the required consent, as a result of which the Delaware courts found the proxies unenforceable. Moreover, Arie was not a party to the 2008 side letter agreements which allegedly sought to deprive Arie and Orly of the asserted claims of beneficial interests in the Arie and Orly Trust Shares when such shares reverted to TRP, albeit such interests have not been judicially determined, and thus has no standing to assert a breach of contract claim as to these agreements.
Further, the breach of contract claim in the seventh cause of action against the Sagi Trust is not viable for the same reason that the breach of fiduciary duty claim against the Sagi Trust is not, as discussed above. (Supra, at 27).
Arie also observes that defendants "conveniently ignore the fact that the Delaware Courts made no determinations as to the validity of the Back-Up Voting Trust Agreements, the express intent of which was to ensure that Arie would maintain voting control . . . in the event the [*17]irrevocable proxies were determined to be invalid." (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 23). Having failed to raise this claim or issue in Delaware, the argument is precluded, and in any event, does not apply as to Orly as any voting right under the back-up voting trust agreements was held only by Arie. In the Delaware proceedings, voting right was clearly an important issue for Arie. Thus, his belated attempt to raise it now is untenable and a waste of judicial resources. (Olawoyin v 520 W. 43rd St. Partners, LLC, 34 Misc 3d 130 [A], 2011 NY Slip Op 52328 [U], *1 [App Term, 1st Dept 2011] [plaintiff's claim "properly dismissed under familiar principles of res judicata, since the claim could have been litigated in the prior . . . proceeding between the parties"]; see also Landau, P.C. v LaRossa, Mitchell & Ross, 11 NY3d 8, 12-13  ["once a claim is brought to a final conclusion, all other claims arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions are barred, even if based upon different theories or if seeking a different remedy."]).
5. Aiding and abetting tortious interference with contract (ninth cause of action)
In the complaint, Arie alleges that Sagi, Fang and the Sagi Trust "each had knowledge of [Trump Group's] tortious interference with the 2004 TPR Transaction Agreement and the [divorce stipulation]" as well as "the 2004 Voting Trust Agreements," and that each had aided and abetted, and provided substantial assistance to Trump Group in committing tortious acts. (Complaint, ¶¶ 253-256). As the tortious interference of contract claim against Trump Group (eighth cause of action) is legally insufficient (supra, at 22-24), so too is the aiding and abetting claim against Sagi, Fang and the Sagi Trust as they cannot have aided and abetted Trump Group in committing a tort that could not have been committed. Moreover, no liability for tortious interference generally attaches when the defendant is a party to the subject contract (UBS Sec. L.L.C. v Highland Capital Mgt., L.P., 86 AD3d 469, 476-477 [1st Dept 2011]), and Arie offers no proposition of law to the contrary.
In addition, Arie contends that the Sagi Trust "aided and abetted Trump Group's tortious interference with the Back-Up Voting Trust Agreement between Arie and the Orly Trusts." (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 24). However, as discussed supra, at 30, any claim made by Arie with respect to the back-up voting trust agreement is res judicata, and the allegation that the Sagi Trust aided and abetted Trump Group in violating the agreement has no legal basis as the agreement is longer legally enforceable.
6. Preliminary and permanent injunctions (fifth and tenth causes of action)
For the reasons set forth in conjunction with the dismissal of the fifth and tenth causes of action against Trump Group (supra, at 19-20), these causes of action against TPR, Sagi, Fang and the Sagi Trust are also not viable.
C. Motion of Dalia Genger to dismiss (motion sequence number 006)
In his complaint, Arie asserts causes of action against Dalia for a declaratory judgment to reform the divorce stipulation (first cause of action), constructive trust (second cause of action), unjust enrichment and rescission (fourth cause of action), and permanent injunction (fifth cause of action).
1. Declaratory judgment for reformation (first cause of action)
According to Arie, the reformation claim is based on: (1) the right set forth in the divorce stipulation entitling him to seek reformation when the 2004 Transfers were voided by the Delaware courts; and (2) mutual mistake in that both he and Dalia reasonably believed that the [*18]2004 Transfers were valid when they signed the divorce stipulation.
Dalia argues that the reformation claim must be dismissed because: (1) the relevant provision in the divorce stipulation was not triggered by the Delaware court which held only that Arie failed to give notice or seek consent of the other shareholders, such as the Trump Group, for the 2004 Transfers and did not hold that the provision was void or unenforceable; (2) Arie is barred from altering the economics of the divorce stipulation because the $3.85 million 2007-2008 arbitration award in favor of Dalia effected a final resolution and conclusion of all disputes thereunder; and (3) there was no mutual mistake because Arie knew that the consent of other shareholders was required for the 2004 Transfers.
Although the Delaware courts' ruling voiding the 2004 Transfers arguably gives rise to a claim for contractual reformation, the scope of the reformation sought is precluded because Arie seeks, inter alia, full control of all 3,000 shares of TRI stock and the voting rights related thereto, and the Delaware courts ruled that Trump Group outright owns 67.7 percent of all TRI shares, including the 1,100 Sagi Trust Shares, and that TPR is the record owner and has voting rights as to those TRI shares that are not currently owned by Trump Group. Thus, the requested reformation constitutes an impermissible collateral attack on the Delaware court's decisions, which are entitled to full faith and credit. Moreover, as observed by the Southern District, instead of seeking to right the wrong he had committed with respect to the divorce stipulation, Arie seeks a declaratory judgment to undo the Delaware rulings and avoid the consequences of his own breach of the TRI stockholders agreement. (Supra, at 15-16). Thus, any right to reformation Arie might have had pursuant to the divorce stipulation is vitiated by the Delaware court rulings and by his own acts.
As Arie's claim is brought after the 2004 Transfers were invalidated by the Delaware courts in 2010, it could not have been raised before or during the conclusion of the arbitration proceedings in 2008. (See Indosuez Intl. Fin. v National Reserve Bank, 304 AD2d 429, 430 [1st Dept 2003] [res judicata inapplicable if claim arose after conclusion of prior action]). Thus, the arbitration award has no impact on the instant reformation claim.
In the alternative, Arie contends that the divorce stipulation may be equitably, as opposed to contractually, reformed due to a "mutual mistake." Although he maintains that both he and Dalia "reasonably believed" that the 2004 Transfers were valid, he was discredited by the Delaware courts, and Dalia denies it. Moreover, the Delaware Supreme Court specifically stated that "[Arie's] misrepresentation was false. In fact, the prior consent of Trump Group signatories to the Stockholders Agreement . . . was required," and that "when [Arie] effectuated the 2004 Transfers, [he] knew that neither [the Orly or the Sagi] Trust was a Permitted Transferee' of the [TRI] shares under the Stockholders Agreement." (Genger v TR Investors, LLC, 26 A3d 180, 184, 185 [Del. Sup. Ct. 2011]). Therefore, crediting Arie's unsubstantiated or conclusory allegation of a "mutual mistake," would result in an improper end run around the Delaware courts' determinations.
And, the Court of Appeals recently rebuffed a husband's attempt to reopen a divorce settlement based on alleged post-divorce changes in asset valuation. (Simkin v Blank, 19 NY3d 46 ). There, the husband alleged that he and his wife were mutually mistaken about the value of an investment account as it had never actually existed due to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. First, the Court observed that "a claim predicated on mutual mistake must be pleaded [*19]with the requisite particularity necessitated under CPLR 3016 (b) . . . [and] that the mutual mistake must exist at the time the contract is entered into and must be substantial," and that any court-ordered relief of reformation is reserved only for "exceptional situations." (Id. at 52). The Court, moreover, analogized the circumstances with a dispute over marital assets that unexpectedly gained or lost value after the dissolution of the marriage. (Id. at 55). Here, it is apparent that the value of TRI shares increased subsequent to the execution of the divorce stipulation and that Arie did not expect that the economic scheme he had carefully devised under it would be invalidated by the court.
2. Constructive trust, unjust enrichment and rescission (second and fourth causes of action)
Arie alleges that Dalia has been unjustly enriched because (1) the 2004 Transfers were voided and the transferred shares reverted to TPR, and (2) if Dalia were permitted to retain the 51 percent interest in TPR she received under the divorce stipulation while Arie was divested of his 14 percent interest in TRI and his right to vote 52.25 percent of the TRI shares which he controlled prior to the voiding of those transfers, Dalia would be unjustly enriched at his expense. Thus, Dalia's alleged unjust enrichment stems from the voiding of the 2004 Transfers by the Delaware court. As the voiding of the 2004 Transfers was due to Arie's own acts in causing TPR to violate the shareholders agreement, as found by the Chancery Court, Arie cannot complain that Dalia was unjustly enriched by it. The same holds true for the cause of action for rescission.
In addition, as unjust enrichment is an element required for the imposition of a constructive trust, and as Arie has failed to show that Dalia was unjustly enriched, the constructive trust cause of action cannot stand as a matter of law. (Simonds v Simonds, 45 NY2d 233, 242  [purpose of constructive trust is to prevent unjust enrichment]). Alternatively, the constructive trust claim fails because the current facts do not warrant the relief requested, the reasons for which are set forth above (supra, at 16-18) in conjunction with Trump Group's motion to dismiss an identical claim against it.
3. Permanent injunction (fifth cause of action)
Arie argues in opposition to Dalia's motion to dismiss that Dalia should be permanently enjoined from interfering with his asserted interest in the TRI shares because his claims of reformation/rescission, constructive trust and unjust enrichment will result in an unraveling of the 2004 Transaction documents and the divorce stipulation, and will likely result in Dalia holding interests in the TRI shares. Thus, Arie argues that an injunction will prevent her from interfering with his interests in those shares. (Arie's Opposition Brief, at 20-21). Because all of the above claims against Dalia have no merit, there is no basis for granting injunctive relief.
D. Motion of Trump Group to supplement the record (motion sequence number 015)
The Trump Group's motion to supplement the record on its motion is denied as, in light of the above findings, the documents it seeks to add are unnecessary.
Based on all of the foregoing, it is hereby
ORDERED, that with respect to motion sequence number 006, the motion of defendant Dalia Genger seeking dismissal of all causes of action asserted in the complaint as against her is granted in all respects, and the complaint is severed and dismissed as against said defendant with costs and disbursements as taxed by the Clerk of the Court, and the Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly; it is further [*20]
ORDERED, that with respect to motion sequence number 007, the motion of defendant Sagi Genger seeking dismissal of all causes of action asserted in the complaint as against him is granted to the extent of dismissing the first, second, fourth (rescission only), fifth, ninth and tenth causes of action, and is otherwise denied; it is further
ORDERED, that with respect to motion sequence number 009, the motion of defendant Rochelle Fang, individually and as trustee of the Sagi Genger 1993 Trust (the Sagi Trust), seeking dismissal of all causes of action asserted in the complaint as against her is granted in all respects, and the complaint is severed and dismissed as against said defendant with costs and disbursements as taxed by the Clerk of the Court, and the Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly; it is further
ORDERED, that with respect to motion sequence number 010, the motion of defendant TPR Investment Associates (TPR) seeking dismissal of all causes of action asserted in the complaint as against TPR is granted to the extent of dismissing the first, second, third, fourth (rescission only), fifth, sixth, and tenth causes of action, and is otherwise denied; it is further
ORDERED, that with respect to the motion sequence number 010, the motion of the Sagi Trust seeking dismissal of all causes of action asserted in the complaint as against the Sagi Trust is granted in all respects, and the complaint is severed and dismissed as against said defendant with costs and disbursements as taxed by the Clerk of the Court, and the Clerk is directed to enter judgment accordingly; it is further
ORDERED, that with respect to motion sequence number 011, the motion of defendants Glencova Invesment Company, TR Investors, LLC, New TR Equity I, LLC, New TR Equity II, LLC, Jules Trump, Eddie Trump and Mark Hirsch (collectively, Trump Group) seeking dismissal of all causes of action asserted in the complaint against Trump Group is granted to the extent of dismissing the first, second, third (conspiracy only), fourth (rescission only), fifth, eighth and tenth causes of action, and is otherwise denied; and it is further
ORDERED, that the conspiracy cause of action asserted against any of the defendants as part of the aiding and abetting causes of action sounding in tort is dismissed; it is further
ORDERED, that defendants Glenclova Investment Company, TR Investors, LLC, New TR Equity I, LLC, New TR Equity II, LLC, Jules Trump, Eddie Trump, and Mark Hirsch's motion for permission to supplement the record is denied.
Barbara Jaffe, JSC
DATED:January 3, 2013
New York, New York