On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Camden County, Docket No. C-229-05.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Axelrad, Payne and Messano.
Plaintiffs Louis and Marion Trombetta, husband and wife, appeal from the January 17, 2007, order that dismissed their complaint against defendants Anthony Trombetta, Louis's brother, and Richard Basciano following a non-jury trial.*fn1 Plaintiffs raise the following points on appeal:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO PERMIT THE FILING OF AN AMENDED COMPLAINT AND PERMIT DISCOVERY IN THE RELATED LAW DIVISION LAWSUIT INVOLVING THE CORPORATE ENTITIES, AND IN FAILING TO MAKE FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AS TO THE CORPORATE ENTITIES
THE TRIAL COURT'S DISMISSAL OF APPELLANTS' PARTNERSHIP CLAIMS WAS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND CLEARLY ERRONEOUS AS A MISTAKE OF LAW
THE FINDING THAT THERE WAS NO FRANCHISE AGREEMENT IS SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE AND SHOULD BE AFFIRMED
We have considered the arguments plaintiffs have made in light of the record and applicable legal standards. We affirm.
On December 13, 2005, plaintiffs filed their complaint in the Chancery Division, Camden County (the chancery action), alleging they were one-third owners of a "live and machine entertainment business (the business) located in the rear of Carnival Books, at 705 Crescent Blvd., . . . Brooklawn." They further alleged that defendants were the owners of the other two-thirds interest in the business. Marion alleged she was the owner of Carnival Books, an adult bookstore that Louis operated on her behalf from the front portion of the business premises. Plaintiffs claimed that they had entered into an "oral partnership agreement" with defendants to operate the business in the rear of the premises, but that the partnership was now "deadlocked" and should be dissolved pursuant to the Uniform Partnership Act (the UPA), N.J.S.A. 42:1A-1 through -56.
Plaintiffs further alleged that defendants had "engaged in a course of conduct in malicious, reckless, willful and/or wanton disregard of [their] rights," and had otherwise acted in "bad faith" and with "unclean hands." Plaintiffs sought equitable distribution of the partnership's assets, payment of their counsel fees from defendants' share, compensatory and punitive damages, and costs.
Defendants answered separately, denying generally the existence of any partnership and claiming there were no grounds to warrant dissolution of the business. Basciano also specifically denied being affiliated with the business since 1992, and Anthony claimed the business ...