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Grimaldi v. Guinn

February 9, 2010

MARK A. GRIMALDI, RESPONDENT,
v.
WAYNE D. GUINN, APPELLANT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



APPEAL by the defendant Wayne D. Guinn, in an action to recover damages for breach of contract, violation of General Business Law § 349, and fraud, as limited by his brief, from so much of an order of the Supreme Court (James V. Brands, J.), dated July 18, 2008, and entered in Dutchess County, as denied that branch of his motion, made jointly with the defendant Allen Tischler, d/b/a Tischler Competitive Engines, which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(8) to dismiss the complaint insofar as asserted against him for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dickerson, J.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.P., MARK C. DILLON, JOSEPH COVELLO and THOMAS A. DICKERSON, JJ.

(Index No. 985/08)

OPINION & ORDER

The plaintiff, who resides in Poughkeepsie, New York, is the owner of a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro (hereinafter the Camaro). On or about May 5, 2006, he purchased a vintage Chevrolet "cross-ram" manifold and carburetor assembly (hereinafter the cross-ram) from Rick's First Generation Camaro, located in Athens, Georgia. The cross-ram was shipped to the plaintiff in New York, along with documentation including a certification by the defendant Wayne D. Guinn of Guinn's Engineering, located in Three Bridges, New Jersey, to the effect that the cross-ram was authentic. In particular, the certification recited: "I certify that the information assigned to [the cross-ram] is precise and accurate . . . This report was . . . prepared expressly for Mark Grimaldi."

After receiving the cross-ram, the plaintiff decided to have it installed in the Camaro, and contacted Guinn concerning this project, explaining to Guinn that he "would like" him to "do the install." According to the plaintiff, Guinn expressed interest in being involved in the project.

The Complaint

In his complaint, the plaintiff claimed that, beginning in the fall of 2005, he had a series of communications with Guinn about the Camaro and the work he wanted performed. The plaintiff alleged that he communicated with Guinn through numerous telephone calls, faxes, and e-mails, he viewed Guinn's Web site, and received a copy of Guinn's book, Camaro Untold Secrets 1967-1969, mailed to him in New York with a personal inscription to him, stating "[l]et's get together and do it the right way." According to the complaint, Guinn represented on several occasions that he could install the cross-ram and rebuild the engine.

The plaintiff alleged that, in reliance on Guinn's promises concerning his ability to perform the work and the estimated cost of the project, he delivered the Camaro and the cross-ram to Guinn in September 2006 at the shop of the defendant Richard Pasqualone, a/k/a Rich Pasqualone, d/b/a Cornerstone Automotive (hereinafter Cornerstone), in Pennsylvania. The plaintiff asserted that, once there, he learned that the defendant Allen Tischler, d/b/a Tischler Competitive Engines (hereinafter Tischler), of New Jersey, would be involved in the project.

Upon delivery of the vehicle, Guinn and Pasqualone published information on their Web sites, stating that the plaintiff's Camaro had been delivered to them. This publication, according to the plaintiff, was disseminated as a "Guinn's Engineering News Break,'" the purpose of which was to solicit additional business for Guinn.

Some time after delivery of the Camaro and the cross-ram to Pasqualone, and after the plaintiff tendered partial payment, the defendants allegedly began to evade the plaintiff's telephone calls. According to the plaintiff, when they did actually speak to him, they were vague with regard to their progress, an estimated completion date, and the cost. The plaintiff alleged that he was provided with photographs of the progress in January 2007, which revealed that the Camaro was disassembled and not close to completion.

The plaintiff asserted that he attempted to contact the defendants between January and April 2007. According to the complaint, when the defendants did return the plaintiff's calls, they remained evasive and provided vague and unreliable information. The plaintiff alleged that, in April 2007, he received additional photographs. He asserted that while the photographs demonstrated some progress, they also demonstrated poor workmanship and that the vehicle was not close to completion.

As set forth in the complaint, by May 2007 the plaintiff had paid the sum of $32,000 to the defendants. The plaintiff asserted that the defendants had originally estimated the cost to be in the sum of $20,000 or less.

The plaintiff alleged that in May 2007 the defendants promised that the project would be completed by July 15, 2007, but that it was not completed by that date. The plaintiff further alleged that Guinn promised to provide him with weekly status reports, but that no such reports were ever provided.

In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that, in November 2007, more than one year after his delivery of the Camaro to Cornerstone, he recovered the Camaro, but that it and the cross-ram remained totally disassembled and not near completion.

The plaintiff claimed that, prior to his delivery of the Camaro to Cornerstone, it was worth approximately $100,000. He asserted that, after proper installation of the cross-ram, it would have been worth approximately $200,000. The plaintiff claimed that after the defendants disassembled the Camaro, and upon his recovery of the still-disassembled vehicle, it was of nominal value and may not be restorable to the condition it was in when delivered to Cornerstone.

In the first cause of action, the plaintiff alleged that the parties had reached an agreement, and that the defendants breached the agreement. The plaintiff claimed that, as a result of the defendants' breach, he sustained damages in an amount not less than $250,000.

In the second cause of action, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants engaged in deceptive and misleading business practices in ...


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