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Sorenson v. Wolfson

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 7, 2015

SIGURD A. SORENSON, Plaintiff,
v.
STANLEY WOLFSON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge.

Sigurd Sorenson, an attorney proceeding pro se, brought claims against Stanley Wolfson for copyright infringement and fraud on a state court. After a non-jury trial, the Court dismissed both claims with prejudice. See Sorenson v. Wolfson, No. 10cv4596, ___ F.Supp. 3d ___, 2015 WL 1454498, at *11-20 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2015).

Sorenson now moves pursuant to Rules 52 and 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the Court (1) to amend its findings of facts and conclusions of law and (2) to reopen the record to include Todd Ernst's testimony. The motion is denied

I.

The Court has already set forth the facts and the procedural background of this case in its prior opinion, familiarity with which is assumed. The following facts are included because of their relevance to this motion.

Bridge Capital Corporation ("Bridge Capital"), of which Wolfson is the sole shareholder, hired Todd Ernst to design architectural plans for condominium units in a building owned by Bridge Capital (the "Building"). Sorenson agreed to purchase three units in the Building from Bridge Capital. In 2004, Sorenson also hired Ernst to create plans for the units that he wished to purchase. Sorenson, 2015 WL 1454498, at *1-3

The deal between Sorenson and Bridge Capital fell through. Id. at *3. Sorenson then brought various claims against Wolfson in this Court. Three claims survived Wolfson's motion for summary judgment: fraudulent termination of a contract, fraud on a court, and copyright infringement of architectural plans.[1] Id. at *10.

In Wolfson's motion for summary judgment, he argued that Ernst - not Sorenson - authored the plans in dispute. Thus, Wolfson reasoned, Sorenson was not the author or owner of any copyright. Sorenson submitted an affidavit from Ernst in response. Ernst's affidavit stated: "Neither I nor my company nor my employees has ever owned a copyright in the Plans. Neither I nor my company nor my employees authored or came up with the ideas for the Plans." Sorenson Oct. 4, 2013, Decl. Ex. 4.

The Court concluded that Ernst's affidavit raised a disputed issue of material fact and denied Wolfson's motion for summary judgment on the copyright claim. March 14, 2014, Hr'g Tr. 25-26.

Neither party deposed Ernst. At the final pre-trial conference, Sorenson represented that Ernst was ill and could not testify at trial. Oct. 23, 2014, Hr'g Tr. 17-18. Sorenson also represented that he would provide an affidavit from Ernst's doctor stating (a) whether Ernst would be available to testify and (b) if not, when he would be available to testify. Id. at 17-19.

Wolfson then moved to depose Ernst, Dkt. No. 213, which Sorenson opposed. The Court explained that it would "assure that the testimony of Mr. Ernst is received at trial whether in person, or by videotaped deposition in lieu of trial testimony, if testimony in court is not physically possible, provided only that the doctors do not state that any such procedure is not medically possible. This is not a discovery deposition but is necessitated by Mr. Sorenson's recent representations about Mr. Ernst's unavailability to appear in Court." Dkt. No. 215.

After Sorenson failed to provide an affidavit from Ernst's doctor, the Court ordered that the "defendant should serve a subpoena for Mr. Ernst's testimony." Dkt. No. 217. Sorenson moved to quash the subpoena, having finally obtained an affidavit from Ernst's doctor. Trial Tr. 3-4. The Court granted the motion. Trial Tr. 6-8. Ernst did not testify at trial, and his affidavit was not admitted as evidence because it was hearsay.

After a bench trial, the Court dismissed Sorenson's claims with prejudice. As to the copyright claim, the Court concluded that Sorenson was not an author of the architectural plans, that Sorenson committed fraud on the Copyright Office, and that Sorenson failed to prove that Wolfson had infringed the alleged copyright. Sorenson, 2015 WL 1454498, at *11-18. As to the fraud-on-the-court claim, this Court concluded that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine prevented the Court from asserting jurisdiction over that claim because Sorenson sought to have this Court overturn a state court judgment. Id. at *18-19. The Court also found that the fraud-on-the-court claim was without merit. Id. at *19.

The Court issued the Opinion and Order on March 31, 2015. Dkt. No. 236. The Judgment was entered on April 1, 2015. Dkt. No. 237. Sorenson filed this ...


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