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Jablonski v. Franchini

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 8, 2013

FRANK W. JABLONSKI, In his capacity as the Executor of the Estate of Anthony Carreira, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ROBERT FRANCHINI, FRANCHINI CHEVROLET, INC., d/b/a FRANCHINI AUTO PLAZA, LYNN CHEVROLET, INC., PASSAIC REALTY ASSOCIATES, INC., A&R PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, LLC, JULIUS FRANCHINI CHARITABLE REMAINDER TRUST, and HEIDI FRANCHINI, Defendants-Appellants.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued April 15, 2013.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Bergen County, Docket No. C-221-09.

Anthony M. Bedwell argued the cause for appellants (Sokol, Behot & Fiorenzo, attorneys; Joseph B. Fiorenzo of counsel and on the brief; Mr. Bedwell, on the brief).

Michael J. Sprague argued the cause for Respondent.

Before Judges Graves and Guadagno.

OPINION

GRAVES, J.A.D.

Frank W. Jablonski is the executor of the estate of Anthony Carreira (the Estate), who died on May 6, 2006. Carreira and defendant Robert Franchini were business partners and equal owners of two car dealerships and two real estate holding companies. Defendant[1] appeals from a July 18, 2012 post-judgment order that required him to pay the Estate $300, 000 and an order entered the same day that denied his cross-motion. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

In July 2009, the Estate filed a nineteen-count complaint seeking, among other things, to equitably divide the jointly held business entities and assets. While in court on September 17, 2010, the Estate and defendant reached "an amicable resolution" and entered into a "binding agreement" (the settlement agreement). The terms and conditions of the settlement agreement were set forth on the record.

At the time of the settlement agreement, there was a pending condemnation proceeding initiated by the City of Garfield involving property owned by Passaic Realty Associates, Inc., one of the jointly held business entities. With respect to the proceeds of the condemnation action, the settlement agreement provides as follows:

The parties agree that the Estate will receive the first $300, 000 in net proceeds after litigation costs and expenses from the pending condemnation action. Any net proceeds above that amount shall go to Mr. Franchini.
The Estate will be kept abreast of the progress of the case and any settlement negotiations. Franchini shall have the ability to control the decisions regarding settlement or trial of that dispute. In the event an offer to settle is received which would result in a net settlement value after litigation costs and expenses of $300, 000, which Mr. Franchini, who has control of the litigation, determines not to accept, then in that event the following will occur:
A. Franchini will be responsible for all legal fees and costs incurred from that point forward, with the understanding that the estate will be responsible for all legal fees and costs incurred prior to the occurrence of that event.
And, B. Franchini shall guaranty that the Estate shall receive $300, 000 in net proceeds from either settlement or trial ...

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