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Southward Investments, LLC v. V-GPO

September 26, 2007

SOUTHWARD INVESTMENTS, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
V-GPO, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Plaintiff Southward Investments, LLC, ("Southward"), brings this action against defendant V-GPO, Inc., ("V-GPO") claiming that the defendant breached a contract between the parties, and unlawfully converted plaintiff's property. Southward seeks specific performance of the terms of the contract, or, in the alternative, damages for the alleged breach of contract and conversion of property.

Defendant V-GPO moves for summary judgment in its favor on grounds that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute because the amount in controversy is not in excess of $75,000.00. Defendant further contends that plaintiff's cause of action for conversion is untimely, and that its breach of contract claim is defective as a matter of law because Southward failed to perform conditions precedent set forth in the contract.

For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendant's motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Southward Investments, LLC, is an investment company located in Rochester, New York. Southward is engaged in the business of selling shell corporations. Morris Diamond ("Diamond") is the President of Southward. Diamond was personally acquainted with Casimer Jaszewski ("Jaszewski"), the owner of controlling interest in a company known as Epicure Investments ("Epicure"). Epicure was a publicly-traded shell corporation.

In 2001, Jaszewski sought the assistance of Southward in selling Epicure. Diamond contacted Douglas Murdock ("Murdock") of Belmont Management Services to inquire whether Murdock knew of any potential buyers for a publicly-traded shell corporation. Murdock indicated that a company affiliated with Belmont, defendant V-GPO, (a privately held corporation) was interested in purchasing Epicure as part of a "reverse merger" transaction whereby V-GPO would merge with Epicure, and in doing so, would become a publicly traded company. A reverse merger transaction is relatively simple way for a privately-held company to become a publicly-traded company in that it avoids several of the administrative, procedural, and regulatory restrictions and requirements imposed on private companies which attempt to become publicly-traded companies. In a reverse merger transaction, because a publicly-traded company already exists, the privately-held company need only merge with the public company to become a public company itself. Typically, once a reverse merger is completed, the name of the merged company is changed to that of the former private company, and the principles of the private company take control of the newly formed public company.

In 2001, Epicure and V-GPO agreed to enter into a reverse merger agreement. Pursuant to the parties' agreements, Jaszewski was to be paid $400,000 for the company. Southward contends that its compensation for arranging the deal was to be paid in 2,000,000 freely-trading, pre-merger stock from Epicure. Southward contends that because Jaszewski was under financial duress at the time, it agreed to take its commission in the form of stock, and to pay the transactional costs and attorneys fees related to the merger. Thereafter, Southward contends that it agreed to trade its 2,000,000 shares of freely-trading, pre-merger Epicure Stock for 3,000,000 restricted post-merger shares of the newly formed company that emerged from the merger.

Defendant disputes the plaintiff's claims, and contends that Southward never had an agreement with either Jaszewski, Belmont, or V-GPO to receive 2,000,000 shares of pre-merger Epicure stock, nor was there ever an agreement between any of the parties to exchange 2,000,000 shares of pre-merger Epicure Stock for 3,000,000 post merger shares. Rather, defendant contends that Southward and V-GPO entered into a Stock Purchase Agreement whereby Southward agreed to purchase 3,000,000 shares of post-merger V-GPO par value common stock (valued at $.0001 per share) for $2,500,000. Specifically, the Stock Purchase Agreement provided that:

the Purchaser [Southward] hereby agrees to purchase . . . [3,000,000 shares of stock] for an aggregate of $2,500,000 U.S. ("Price"), and Purchaser hereby agrees to pay simultaneously with payment of the Price, all fees, costs, and expenses associated with effecting the transactions related to the Merger Agreement dated the date of this Agreement between the Company [V-GPO] and Epicure Investments, Inc., . . . including specifically, but not exclusively, the sale of the [3,000,000 shares of stock] to Purchaser. Company [V-GPO] acknowledges and agrees that the Price for the [3,000,000 shares of stock] shall be provided by the resale of certain shares of Epicure Investments, Inc. . . .under the Stock Sale and Escrow Agreement of even date herewith . . . ."*fn1

V-GPO contends that because Southward never paid for the stock pursuant to the Stock Purchase Agreement, it is not entitled to the $3,000,000 shares of stock. Southward contends that the money that was to be used for the purchase of the stock was to be derived from the sale of Epicure that was sold to Belmont pursuant to the Stock Sale and Escrow Agreement.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all inferences and ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54 (2nd Cir. 1997). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court ...


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