Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SCHUSTER v. DRAGONE CLASSIC MOTOR CARS

July 10, 2000

MYRON J. SCHUSTER, PLAINTIFF, VS. DRAGONE CLASSIC MOTOR CARS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lewis A. Kaplan, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Myron Schuster is a collector of antique automobiles. He contends that defendant dealer, Dragone Classic Motor Cars ("Dragone Classic"), and its two principals, defendants Emanuel Dragone ("Dragone") and George Dragone, defrauded him in two separate transactions-the first, an alleged loan of $2,125,000, and the second, the purchase of a 1939 Bugatti Type 57. His claims include breach of contract based on the defendants' failure to repay the note, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Defendants counterclaimed based on plaintiff's alleged failure to pay for repair and restoration services performed by defendants on four of plaintiff's automobiles. During the course of the trial, the parties settled all of their disputes relating to the 1939 Bugatti Type 57 and defendants' non-payment claims leaving only the dispute concerning the alleged $2,125,000 loan for resolution. This opinion embodies the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law following trial.

Facts

The general background of the dispute is fully set forth in the Court's opinion denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, familiarity with which is assumed.*fn1 Only the barest essentials need be noted here.

Dragone was seeking to acquire a number of antique automobiles from an Italian bankruptcy court. The financing was to come principally from a foreign investor, one Kogan, who allegedly was to have been a partner in Dragone's acquisition of the vehicles. At a critical juncture, however, Kogan was unable or reluctant to come up with the money as promptly as was required. Dragone approached Schuster for a $2,125,000 bridge loan. Schuster agreed to lend him the money on the condition that he receive a short wheelbase Ferrari California Spyder automobile, one of the vehicles to be acquired in Italy, at a very advantageous price in partial repayment of the loan, with the balance to be repaid in cash. He wired the money to Dragone's attorney on June 4, and the attorney promptly wired it on to Dragone's Italian contact. On June 7, Dragone, his brother George Dragone, and Dragone Classic executed and delivered to Schuster a promissory note in the principal amount of $2,125,000. Under the terms of the note, the obligors were obliged to pay Schuster $1,675,000 in cash on June 21. The balance of $450,000 was due on September 3, but the defendants agreed that they would transfer title and deliver the California Spyder to Schuster by that date, in which case Schuster would waive his right to payment of the balance.*fn2 So much is essentially undisputed, but the parties here part ways.

In mid June, Dragone learned that Kogan needed more time to come up with the money and claims that he contacted Schuster with a view to Schuster replacing Kogan in the deal. Schuster, according to Dragone, agreed, although Dragone was vague and inconsistent about the alleged terms of that agreement.

On direct, Dragone asserted that "Schuster agreed to stay in the deal if he could get more and better cars," thus implying that Schuster agreed to become a partner in rather than a lender to the venture. Schuster, according to Dragone, wanted "a total of three . . . cars: the short-wheel base California Spyder, the short-wheel base Berlinetta steel body and the 500 Testarossa." Schuster allegedly said that he did not want his money back, he wanted the cars.*fn3

But Dragone told a somewhat different story on cross-examination:

"Q. Mr. Dragone, you say had an agreement with Mr. Schuster that supersedes the original loan, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. The agreement to that you have was that Mr. Schuster was supposed to receive a Ferrari Testarosa and a Ferrari, the Ferrari California Spyder and the Berlinetta, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. He was to receive nothing else, correct?

A. Well, you see, the agreement was open-ended, and this has been the problem right along here. I agreed to give him a $200,000 discount on each one of these additional cars and if there was anything else there that he wanted, he was either going to supplement, put more money in, or receive just these cars and maybe get some money back. It was open-ended. None of us went into this deal having seen any of these ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.