NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued May 31, 2012
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Hudson County, Docket No. C-0026-05.
Vincent S. Verdiramo argued the cause for appellant (Verdiramo & Verdiramo, P.A., attorneys; Brian P. Matousek, on the brief).
Donald B. Fraser, Jr., argued the cause for respondent (Perrotta, Fraser & Forrester, L.L.C., attorneys; Mr. Fraser, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Fuentes, Harris, and Koblitz.
This appeal involves a partnership dispute regarding the value of the partners' respective contributions to the partnership. The trial court's factual findings were supported by the record and therefore binding on this court. In the absence of legal error, we affirm.
Plaintiff Ibrahim Fayed and defendant Montasser Hanno entered into a partnership to acquire properties in Jersey City and Passaic. Each party contributed equally to the venture and owned 50 percent of the partnership's properties. The dispute at issue concerns a Jersey City property purchased by the partnership on June 30, 2003, for $281, 101 and sold on August 3, 2005, for $750, 000. The partnership's net profit from the sale was $390, 571.58. The partners distributed to themselves $100, 000, resulting in each partner receiving $50, 000.
The remainder of the net proceeds, $290, 571.58, was kept in trust. Unable to reach an amicable resolution as to how to distribute these funds, the matter ended up before the Chancery Division. Both parties presented testimony regarding their respective improvements and financial contributions to the acquisition of the property.
The matter was tried over a period of six non-sequential days, commencing on January 7, 2008, and ending on June 3, 2008. Four witnesses testified, Fayed, Hanno, Sylvia Vique, who identified herself as "a bookkeeper and kind of secretary" to Fayed, and Youssef Eldik, a carpenter and contractor.
After considering the testimony of these witnesses and the arguments of counsel, Judge Thomas P. Olivieri held in favor of defendant and awarded him the amount of $15, 500 to compensate him, "under a concept of sweat equity, " for the 31 weeks that he worked on the property, reasoning that:
[D]efendant would have this court pay an amount or award an amount of $700 per week times the 31 weeks. I find that that is a bit high. I heard testimony in this matter that the others who worked on the property received approximately $500 per week, and I understand that Mr. Hanno's job there was supervisory, and perhaps there's an argument that he should be paid more, but I really didn't hear any expert testimony about what a ...