Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sudha Bansal v. Aruna Chakrala; Dr. Aruna

May 31, 2011

SUDHA BANSAL, PETITIONER,
v.
ARUNA CHAKRALA; DR. ARUNA CHAKRALA MD, P.C.
RESPONDENTS, AND PLAINSBORO-PRINCETON MEDICAL CENTER, THIRD PARTY RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thompson, U.S.D.J.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner Sudha Bansal's Motion to Confirm Arbitration Award [docket # 2] and upon the Cross-motion to Dismiss [6] filed by Respondents Aruna Chakrala and Dr. Aruna Chakrala MD, P.C. ("Chakrala P.C.") and by third party respondent Plainsboro-Princeton Medical Associates, P.C.*fn1 ("PPMA") (collectively, "Respondents"). The Court has decided the matter after considering the parties' submissions and after holding oral argument on May 20, 2011. For the reasons stated below, Respondents' cross-motion to dismiss is granted, and Petitioner's motion is denied as moot.

II. BACKGROUND

This is a case about two medical doctors who entered into a partnership agreement and later had a falling out. They submitted their dispute to arbitration as required by the agreement and came away with a final arbitration award. Now, Petitioner Dr. Sudha Bansal wants the Court to confirm part of that award, modify a second part, and vacate a third. Respondents

Aruna Chakrala and Dr. Aruna Chakrala MD, P.C. ("Chakrala P.C.") and third party respondent Plainsboro-Princeton Medical Associates, P.C. ("PPMA") oppose the request and also move to dismiss the Petition on various grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

A.Formation and Termination of the Partnership

In 2006, Dr. Bansal and Dr. Chakrala signed a Partnership Agreement establishing a joint medical practice in Plainsboro, New Jersey. (Pet. to Confirm Arbitration Award ("Pet."), Ex. A., Partnership Agreement 1) [1-2]. The Agreement was for a two-year period and would renew automatically unless one party notified the other that it was withdrawing. (Pet. ¶ 15). To create the partnership, Bansal resigned from a position as a staff physician at a nearby hospital and became a 50% shareholder in Chakrala's medical practice, Chakrala P.C.*fn2 (Id. at ¶ 10.) The Agreement contained a restrictive covenant requiring the parties to "not open or start any business of the same nature . . . in the Township of Plainsboro, for a period of 2 years from the date of dissolution of the Partnership." (Id. at ¶ 12 (quoting Partnership Agreement 5).) The Agreement also provided that any disputes related to the agreement would be submitted to binding arbitration. (Id. at ¶ 16 (citing Partnership Agreement 11).)

Bansal began practicing at Chakrala P.C. in September of 2006. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Under the agreement, the doctors worked a rotating work schedule, alternating three months of work and three months off. (Id. at ¶ 11.) The arrangement worked for over a year and a half, but on May 7, 2008, Chakrala sent a letter informing Bansal that she was terminating the agreement because Bansal had breached the contract by providing services to another physician and by "not significantly add[ing] to the growth" of the practice. (Id. at ¶ 18.)

B.Arbitration

Bansal filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin Chakrala from terminating the agreement, but the court compelled the parties to arbitrate the dispute instead. (Id. at ¶ 19.) The parties began arbitration in early 2010. During arbitration, Chakrala dissolved Chakrala P.C. and formed a new company, PPMA. (Id. at ¶ 21.) On September 22, 2010, the arbitrator issued a "Partial Final Award" in favor of Bansal. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Relying on an expert report, the arbitrator found that Bansal had contributed to the growth of the practice, that Chakrala had benefited from Bansal's contribution, and that Chakrala had breached the agreement in numerous ways that injured Bansal. (Id. at ¶¶ 22--25.) The arbitrator further concluded that "the precise value of [Bansal's] loss cannot be determined sufficiently to make an award on the basis of the [expert] report." (Id. at ¶ 28 (quoting Pet. Ex. B, Partial Final Agreement ¶ 71).) Nevertheless, the arbitrator awarded $12,297 to Bansal based on one of Chakrala's breaches-failure to form a limited liability company-and $100 in nominal damages for the breaches whose value could not be determined. (Id. at ¶ 29.) However, the arbitrator decided not to issue the award against Chakrala P.C. because that entity had been dissolved and the new entity-PPMA-was not a party to the arbitration proceedings. (Id. at ¶ 27 (citing Pet. Ex. B, Partial Final Agreement ¶ 65.) Finally, the arbitrator declined to grant Bansal's requests for injunctive relief, which the arbitrator characterized as a "two-phase injunction": (1) Bansal would be put back into the medical practice for a time so that she could become reacquainted with her old patients, and (2) both parties would be required to leave the Plainsboro office and set up new offices outside of Plainsboro. (Pet. Ex. B, Partial Final Agreement ¶ 58.) These requests were "unworkable and inequitable," the arbitrator found. (Id. at ¶ 59.) On December 8, 2010, the arbitrator rendered its "Final Award": the arbitrator confirmed the award of $12,297 for one breach and $100 in nominal damages for the others, awarded $45,000 in attorney's fees to Bansal, and assigned Bansal's $24,188.40 share of the administrative fees for arbitration to Chakrala. (Pet. at ¶ 30.)

C.The Present Lawsuit

On March 7, 2011, Petitioner Bansal initiated the present lawsuit by filing a motion to confirm in part, modify in part, and vacate in part the arbitration award. Specifically, Petitioner asks us to: (1) modify the $100 nominal damage award, replacing it with an amount based on the actual damages Petitioner suffered; (2) grant Petitioner's request for injunctive relief and vacate the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.