United States District Court, D. New Jersey
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.
17, 2018, a one day bench trial was conducted on this matter.
The Court has jurisdiction in this case based on diversity of
citizenship as Plaintiff L & T Fashion, Inc. (L&T) is
incorporated in the State of Florida, Best Items
International, Inc. ("Best Items") is incorporated
in New Jersey, and Textiles Met, A.A., DE C.V.
("Textiles Met") is incorporated in Mexico. The
amount in controversy is approximately $1.8 million. In
addition to this trial, there is a pending motion for default
judgment against Textiles Met (ECF No. 51). The motion will
be addressed separately.
bench trial, the Court has three roles. First, as trier of
fact, the Court's duty is to decide the facts from the
evidence that was heard and seen in court during the trial.
The second duty is to apply the law to the facts. Lastly, the
Court must clearly explain the facts and the legal principles
underpinning its decision.
jury is instructed, the Court performed its duties fairly and
impartially, and it considered all of the evidence presented
and used common sense, in light of everyday experience with
people and events to determine the credible facts. As such,
the Court gave the evidence whatever weight it believed it
deserved. See Third Circuit Model Jury Charge § 1.5.
this is a civil case, L&T Fashions, the Plaintiff, has
the burden of proving its case by the preponderance of the
evidence against Best Items. That is, Plaintiff must show its
claims are more likely so than not so. See, Third Circuit
Model Jury Charge §1.10. If Plaintiff fails to meet this
burden, the verdict must be for defendant. Id. In
determining what has been proven by the preponderance of
evidence, the Court considered the testimony of the sole
witness (A.V. Ramakrishna, President of L&T Fashions),
and the many documents submitted into evidence by L&T.
case, one of the Court's chief functions was to assess
the credibility of the testimony of Mr. Ramakrishna. To do
so, the Court considered a number of factors including:
(1) the opportunity and ability of the witness to see or hear
or know the things the witness testifies to;
(2) the quality of the witness's understanding and
(3) the witness's manner while testifying;
(4) whether the witness has an interest in the outcome of the
case or any motive, bias or prejudice;
(5) whether the witness is contradicted by anything the
witness said or wrote before trial or by other evidence;
(6) how reasonable the witness's testimony is when
considered in the light of other evidence that you believe;
(7)any other factors that bear on believability.
Circuit Model Jury Charge §1.7.
assessment, Mr. Ramakrishna's testimony was credible in
part. However, some of his testimony was exaggerated,
especially as to the amount of losses associated with Best
Items. In addition, the exhibits entered into evidence were
not adequately explained nor related precisely to
Ramakrishna's testimony. When assessing credibility, the
trier of fact may accept all or part of the witness's
testimony as credible. A portion, but not all, of
Ramakrishna's testimony was credible. This credibility
assessment is explained in the following statement of facts
Plaintiff presents this case as a simple book account,
Defendant Best Items argues that there was no contractual
relationship between L&T and Best Items because there was
no consideration between Best Items and L&T.
Defendant's counsel argued in his letter brief:
The parties appeared for trial on July 17, 2018 before Your
Honor. Plaintiff contracted with Textiles Met for the sale of
goods. Textiles Met is owned by Jimmy Abadi. In the midst of
the professional relationship, Plaintiff required that it
deal with a company based in the United States or else it
would cease all business with Textiles Met. Therefore, Best
Items agreed that all invoices should be addressed to it.
Best Items is owned by David Abadi. The only connection
between Best Items and Textiles Met is that the owner of Best
Items is the father of the owner of Textiles Met. These two
companies are wholly separate and apart from each other and
do not economically benefit from one another. The original
contract for the sale of goods was between Plaintiff and
Textiles Met. The goods have always been purchased by
Textiles Met and were delivered to Textiles Met.
It is Defendant's position that the Plaintiff has no
claim against it for unpaid goods purchased and delivered to
Textiles Met because Plaintiff gave no consideration to Best
Items which is required for the existence of a valid
contract. Plaintiff claims that the consideration given to
Best Items is that the contract benefits, the son of the
owner of Best Items ...
Love and affection, unaccompanied by a pecuniary or material
benefit, will not constitute sufficient consideration to
support a contract or an action to redress its breach. In
re Kirschenbaum 's Estate, 44 N.J.Super. 391, 400
(App. Div. 1957).
trial, the issues were twofold: (1) whether there was any
consideration between L&T and Best Items sufficient to
substantiate a breach of contract claim; and (2) whether
there was sufficient evidence to prove damages of
approximately $1, 885, 000 by a preponderance of the
setting forth the facts, the Court reviewed the matter to
determine if there was consideration between L&T and Best
Items to show a breach of contract. Although there was no jury,
the Court used the Model Civil Jury Charge § 4.10(c) and
(d) (Existence of a Legally Enforceable Contract) as approved
by the New Jersey courts, to guide its deliberations. The
Model Civil Jury Charge sets forth elements that the
Plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence to
prevail. This specific charge was employed because it
explains the element of consideration which defendant argues
has not been proven. The charge reads:
EXISTENCE OF A LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE CONTRACT (Approved 5/98)
contract is a legally enforceable agreement to do or not to
claims that [party] and [party] entered into a contract to
[explain terms alleged]. The defendant claims [explain terms
alleged]. To establish that this ...