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Horgan Brothers, Inc v. Monroe Property

February 28, 2011

HORGAN BROTHERS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONROE PROPERTY, L.L.C. AND
MONROE RESTAURANT, INC. AND
TAYLOR MILLS, DEFENDANTS. GJW BUILDER, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
TAYLOR MILLS, MONROE
RESTAURANT, INC. AND MONROE
PROPERTY, L.L.C., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiffs, Horgan Brothers, Inc. and GJW Builder, Inc., have set forth several statutory and common law claims against Defendants Monroe Property, L.L.C., Monroe Restaurant, Inc., and Taylor Mills.*fn1 Plaintiffs seek to recover for services that they had provided to Defendants as part of Defendants' renovations of their restaurant and property. In response, Defendants move for summary judgment against Horgan Brothers.

For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

I. JURISDICTION

This Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over the underlying claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. There is complete diversity between the parties in the underlying action. Plaintiff, Horgan Brothers, Inc., is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with its principal place of business in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff, GJW Builder, Inc., is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with its principal place of business in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Defendant, Taylor Mills, is an adult individual who is a citizen and resident of the State of New Jersey. Defendant, Monroe Property, L.L.C., is a limited liability company whose sole member is Mills.*fn2 Defendant, Monroe Restaurant, Inc., is incorporated in the State of New Jersey with its principal place of business in Williamstown, New Jersey. Plaintiffs allege that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

II. BACKGROUND*fn3

In March 2006, Taylor Mills owned an establishment called Taylor's Bar and Grill ("the restaurant"), along with the parcel of land ("the property") upon which the restaurant was located, in Williamstown, New Jersey.*fn4 Around that time, Mills entered into a contract with GJW Builder, Inc. ("GJW"), which agreed to perform general contracting services on the restaurant and the property. The parties agreed that GJW would be entitled to a certain percentage "mark-up" on its subcontractors. In turn, GJW entered into a subcontracting agreement with Horgan Brothers, Inc. ("Horgan"), which agreed to perform services at the restaurant and property.*fn5 GJW's mark-up on Horgan's services was six percent.

As part of its duties, Horgan excavated the site, poured concrete, installed sewer lines, and filled and paved a parking lot. However, according to George Wetton, the sole officer, director, and shareholder of GJW, Mills ordered extensive changes to the project and began to deal directly with Horgan. Mills instructed Horgan to perform extensive change order work in excess of the original subcontracting agreement that Horgan had with GJW, specifically with respect to the redesign and expansion of the property's parking lot.*fn6

Horgan performed the change order work as requested and submitted invoices to GJW and Mills with respect to the work. However, on December 12, 2006 and prior to compensating Plaintiffs for all of their services, Mills transferred title in the property to an entity known as Monroe Property, L.L.C. Further, Mills transferred ownership of his restaurant to Monroe Restaurant, Inc.*fn7

In or around April 2007, Horgan filed a Construction Lien Claim in the amount of $858,153.74 against Defendants' property with the Clerk of the County of Gloucester, New Jersey. Two months later, in June 2007, Horgan filed a complaint in this Court.*fn8 According to the complaint, Mills is "the owner, majority shareholder or controlling party of both Monroe Restaurant and Monroe Property." (Compl. ¶ 11). As such, Horgan avers that Mills transferred the property's title and the restaurant's ownership to these entities in an effort to shield himself from any personal liability he has incurred for the Mills testified that anything he had to say to Horgan or anyone else was conveyed through GJW representatives, like George Wetton.

unpaid change order work. As a result of his actions and refusal to pay any of the outstanding principal balance of $858,153.74, Horgan sets forth three counts against Mills, Monroe Restaurant, and Monroe Property: (1) unjust enrichment, (2) quantum meruit, and (3) fraudulent conveyance pursuant to N.J.S.A. §§ 25:2-3 and 25:2-25.

In October 2009, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. More than a month later, Defendants also filed a Motion to Dismiss. In its Opinion dated June 30, 2010, the Court granted Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, finding that Horgan did not comply with New Jersey's Corporation Business Activities Reporting Act (or, "the Act"), N.J.S.A. 14A:13-14 et seq. Ultimately, upon proof of Horgan's compliance with the Act and previous court orders, the Court reinstated Horgan's action against Defendants on February 4, 2011. That same day, the Court also reinstated Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Summary ...


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