Representative Cases

Estate of Marilyn Monroe v. Weeplay Kids LLC and Alan Maleh We are pleased to report another victory by our Senior Counsel, Steven G. Yudin, who has had an outstanding year. The case involved our client, Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the owner of many iconic trademarks and brands, which licensed the Marilyn Monroe and Muhammed Ali trademarks and trade names to a New York based apparel company. The licensee, WeePlay Kids, used the license to sell an array of goods but it failed to make payments of required license fees and royalties. We sued WeePlay, which defended the case by arguing that ABG breached the agreement first in various ways and that it was entitled to discovery. We saw no basis to the defenses and moved immediately for summary judgment. The Court agreed and granted the motion, see copy attached, resulting in entry of a judgment for $204,684.

By this time WeePlay wasn’t playing any more and had taken its toys home and stopped doing business. Undeterred, we pursued post-judgment discovery, as was our right. We eventually obtained WeePlay’s tax returns, which revealed that the 99% owner of the company, one Alan Maleh, had received large distributions during the time the company was a defendant in the ABG action and while it was insolvent.

We then sued Maleh personally in a fraudulent transfer action, seeking relief under the Debtor and Creditor Law (DCL), including DCL 273-a (since repealed and replaced), which governs transfers by a defendant in an action. Maleh opposed, claiming the monies were actually repayment of loans he made, but he had no proof. The Court granted our application and held Maleh personally liable for the debt, resulting in entry of a judgment against him for $250,238, including the accrued to date post-judgment interest. See decision attached.

Wright v. Cavan Properties, Inc. Many of the judgments we are retained to enforce were entered by default, which usually means that the defendant failed to appear in court and never opposed the case. When we begin our enforcement work, some of these defendants, now judgment debtors, retain lawyers and ask the court to vacate the judgment, typically claiming they were unaware of the case and that they have a good defense.

It is the job of the lawyers who obtained the default judgment to oppose it, of course. However, we have substantial experience in this area and frequently provide support to our referring counsel, such as providing factual background materials and legal research materials.

And it is gratifying when the teamwork pays off, as it did recently in Wright v. Cavan Properties Inc., Supreme Court, Bronx County, Index No. 24993/2017E (Briganti, J.). Link to it here. In a thorough decision, the court denied the defendant’s motion to vacate a large personal injury judgment, in no small part based upon our spade work uncovering facts revealing that the defendant’s excuse for its default was insufficient. We showed that the defendant had long neglected its obligations to maintain a proper mailing address for process served on it via the New York Secretary of State. Critical were records from an earlier lawsuit, which we located, revealing that the defendant was on notice of its out-of-date mailing address for years.

The judgment upheld, we are now working on turning it into a recovery for our client.

Myrtle 684 LLC v. Tauber We were retained to enforce a money judgment entered in a personal injury action. We sought to execute on real property that was owned by the judgment debtor, which mysteriously had been sold even though it was subject to our client’s judgment lien. We discovered that the county clerk made an error when docketing the judgment as a lien. His entry in the docket book, an alphabetical index of the names of judgment debtors, indicated the judgment was for $16,050 when it was for $217,425. When the property was sold, the seller (who had discovered the docket book error) persuaded the title company to remove its exception to judgment lien in consideration of the seller posting an escrow of twice the amount of the incorrect amount of the judgment. The seller remained silent about the docketing clerk’s error, thereby avoiding paying a judgment then worth more than $250,000. We insisted the correct amount of the judgment be paid with interest, which by this time was more than $350,000. The title insurance companies refused to pay and instead filed an action seeking a declaration that the judgment lien was limited to the incorrect amount in the docket book entry.

In a vigorously litigated case, we prevailed in both the trial court and on appeal. The Appellate Division, Second Department, agreed with us that the fundamental purpose of the docket book index was achieved here because “the judgment docket indices at issue provided notice of the existence of judgments that could potentially be clouds on the title of the respective properties, as an unsatisfied judgment of record against a seller of property renders the title unmarketable at the time of closing.” Having located the judgment, the court held that these parties were charged with constructive notice of the correct amount of the judgment lien, because the “judgment docket index is merely notice of a lien.” When the Court of Appeals denied the title insurance companies’ motions for leave to appeal in October 2021, they were forced to pay our client’s judgment in full, plus many years of post-judgment interest. The Appellate Division’s decision can be accessed here.

Gregorio Lucero v. Howard Kahn Our client in this case was a severely injured worker who had, through personal injury counsel, sued the owner of the building where the accident occurred. During the personal injury case, the building owner (a limited liability company) sold the building, its only asset, and at the closing disbursed more than $1 million of the proceeds to or for the benefit of its sole member. The client ultimately was awarded a substantial Judgment in the injury case. We were retained as judgment enforcement counsel to collect the Judgment and, by a special proceeding we filed against the owner of the LLC, sought a turnover of the funds he improperly received. We argued that the LLC’s transfer of the sale proceeds to the member-owner was fraudulent under the Debtor and Creditor Law. After numerous motions and an evidentiary hearing before a Special Referee, we prevailed and secured a Judgment for our client against the LLC member personally for more than $1 million. The debtor was hostile and uncooperative and resisted judgment enforcement proceedings, ultimately seeking to cancel an Execution sale of his ownership interest in a corporation that owns a commercial building in Queens. We obtained an excellent ruling upholding the execution. A copy of the decision can be seen here. The property was sold and finally the debtor surrendered and resolved the matter satisfactorily.

Salish Lodge LLC v. Gift Management, Inc. Our client owned and operated a luxury hotel and spa outside Seattle. It was featured in the Twin Peaks television series. The hotel retained the defendant to manage online sales of gift cards. Defendant was required to remit funds received each week less a 3% commission. However, after performing for a few years, the defendant inexplicably failed to remit monies owed per its own accounting records. It promised to send payment but never did. The defendant ignored the suit we filed and defaulted, then ignored post-judgment discovery demands. That changed when we located and restrained its New York bank account. Defendant moved to vacate the Judgment, alleging it had a reasonable excuse for its default and a meritorious defense. A lower court judge granted the motion, crediting as “potentially meritorious” an allegation that defendant was holding the monies owed to plaintiff in a “reserve fund” for potential fraudulent gift card purchases. The court failed to see the claim was bogus for many reasons, including that the parties’ contract did not authorize a holdback for a “reserve fund,” defendant provided no records of any monies held in a “reserve fund,” and there was no proof of even a single fraudulent purchase. The lower court also accepted defendant’s excuse for its default—that an email from its Delaware agent went unnoticed into a “spam” folder. The lower court judge cited the general rubric that New York favors deciding cases on the merits.

Yes, but real cases and controversies involving a party acting in good faith who excusably defaulted, which was not the case here. We appealed. We immediately moved for and obtained a TRO and stay pending appeal, keeping the defendant’s bank account restrained. Our appeal was a success: a unanimous reversal, denial of the defendant’s motion to vacate, and reinstatement of our Judgment for $435,464.48, plus post-judgment interest. The Court rejected the excuse for defendant’s default and found the “reserve fund” defense spurious. You can read the Appellate Court’s ruling here. After this resounding ruling the defendant paid the Judgment in full. A hard fight, requiring prosecution of an expedited appeal, but a very satisfying victory.

Blue Water Realty LLC v. The Salon Management of Great Neck and Pauline Jannelli Our client is a family-owned real estate company that retained our firm to collect a substantial amount of unpaid rent owed by a commercial tenant and personal guarantor. The subject commercial lease was for a large hair salon business that failed. After years of contentious litigation, the case proceeded to trial in New York County. While the case was pending, we filed a separate fraudulent conveyance action challenging real estate conveyances made by the personal guarantor to affiliated third parties while she was a defendant in the rent case. The issues included the right to offset rent under the lease, constructive eviction, and “law of the case” principles. The trial court awarded our client a Judgment for unpaid rent but, in our view, the incorrect amount. We appealed and won a complete victory awarding us damages of nearly $2 million. A copy of the decision can be obtained here. We are now engaged in fraudulent conveyance litigation with guarantor.

Frank Berisha v. 4042 East Tremont Café Corp. et al., Supreme Court of the State of New York, Bronx County

We obtained a major victory in a complex post-judgment fraudulent transfer case involving the popular Tosca Café in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx. Our client, the plaintiff in a Dram Shop action, won a Judgment against this large bar/restaurant, but by the time it was entered, “Eddie” Sujak, the owner of the business, had transferred it to two other corporations, supposedly owned by relatives. Through post-judgment discovery proceedings, independent factual investigations, and contempt of court applications, we built a compelling documentary record showing that Mr. Sujak continuously maintained control of this valuable business and that the transfers were a sham to avoid creditors and were not made for fair consideration. We then filed a CPLR 5225(b) “turnover” proceeding to set aside the transfers as fraudulent. We also asked the Court to exercise its discretion to appoint a post-judgment receiver (CPLR 5228), removing the Sujak family so that the Tosca Café could be operated for the benefit of our client so that his Judgment could be paid. The Court (Howard Sherman, J.) issued a detailed 23-page opinion examining the evidence and upholding all of our claims. The Court found the transfers were “replete with ‘badges of fraud’” and said that the evidence was “clear and convincing” that the transfers were made to “hinder, delay or defraud” Mr. Berisha and prevent enforcement of his Judgment. Finding no other way that the Judgment would be paid, the Court agreed that this was the rare case where the appointment of a receiver was appropriate. Finally, the Court held Mr. Sujak personally liable for our attorneys’ fees, as provided in N.Y. Debtor and Creditor Law § 276-a, based upon its finding that he had acted “to hinder, delay, or defraud” our client.

The court’s rulings were largely upheld in 2019 on appeal, which also opened the door to new claims to hold Mr. Sujak personally liable for the entire amount of our client’s Judgment. Litigation is ongoing.

To read more, click here.

William Setters v. AI Properties and Developments (USA) Corp. , Supreme Court, New York County

Our client was an injured construction worker who, through prior counsel, won a Judgment against the sponsor of a Tribeca luxury condominium project. The sponsor, who had no insurance coverage, sold all the condo units while the suit was pending, failed to retain a litigation reserve, and distributed the proceeds to the investors in the project without resolving the worker’s claim. We were retained as Judgment enforcement counsel and challenged the distributions as a fraud on creditors under the New York Debtor and Creditor Law, naming the individual members of the limited liability company as respondents.

The lower Court granted our motion and directed that the Judgment be paid in full by the LLC’s members. However, the lower Court then reversed itself, finding the members had raised an issue of fact on a novel Statute of Limitations defense based on a provision in New York’s Limited Liability Company Law. We immediately appealed this ruling and prosecuted it on an expedited basis.

We obtained a complete reversal and total victory in a unanimous decision from the Appellate Division, First Department, in May 2016, just three months later. The Statute of Limitations defense was rejected, thereby establishing an important appellate precedent. The final sweetener in what was a very satisfying victory was the Appellate Division’s direction that the LLC members pay the attorneys’ fees incurred in the fraudulent transfer litigation. Following the ruling, the underlying Judgment was paid in full, with interest.

To read more, click here.

Battlefield Freedom Group v. Zhuo, Supreme Court, Queens County

Here, we first domesticated a Virginia judgment for a commercial landlord who won a judgment in Virginia against a personal guarantor of a defaulted restaurant lease. After post-judgment discovery, we filed a fraudulent conveyance action against his spouse and family. The case went to trial before a referee, who ruled in favor of the defendants in her report. However, we persuaded the Judge to reject the referee’s report and to set aside the conveyance.

In March 2017, our victory in the trial court was unanimously affirmed by Appellate Division, Second Department. The Appellate Division’s ruling also clarified an important principle of New York’s fraudulent conveyance law concerning shifting the burden of proof as to the insolvency of the debtor to the transferee where there was no consideration for the transfer.

Ultimately, we successfully executed on our judgment lien, coordinating the Sheriff’s sale of real property owned by the debtor, resulting in the full satisfaction of our client’s Judgment.

To read more, click here and here.

A & W Egg Co., Inc. v. Tufo’s Wholesale Dairy, Inc. We represented a company engaged in the business of wholesale brokering the sale of farm-raised eggs. One of its customers failed to pay for more than $100,000.00 of goods sold-and-delivered. After assembling the necessary proof, including sale, delivery, and acceptance without objection, we moved for summary judgment. The motion was granted and the court awarded our client Judgment for the full amount owed plus pre-judgment interest. After we refused a low post-judgment settlement offer, the customer appealed. Because an appeal does not stay judgment enforcement, the customer was required to post an undertaking (bond) to secure payment of the Judgment. We opposed the appeal and prevailed; the Appellate Division, First Department, unanimously affirmed the summary judgment ruling in all respects. Ultimately, we collected 100% of the Judgment, plus post-judgment interest and appellate costs awarded by the Appellate Division.

Matter of Seung Ju International Corp. v. Zhiqing Social Day Care, Inc. , Supreme Court, Queens County

We were hired to enforce a $300,000 Judgment for commercial rent arrears against a personal guarantor. Our extensive efforts included a successful contempt of court prosecution and deep factual research that found the defendant’s ownership of another business. We filed a turnover order proceeding to direct the monthly payments the debtor was to receive from his sale of that business to us and prevailed.

After collecting that debt in full, we went forward to collect the remaining balance due via a Sheriff’s real property execution against the judgment debtor’s interest in a house he transferred to his spouse, which we successfully challenged as fraudulent. The result was an agreement to pay the remaining balance.

To read more, click here.

Analogic Corp. v. Manuelian, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

This action arose out of a crime perpetrated on our client by a corrupt United States Customs Broker, pursuant to which he was convicted and ordered to make restitution. We were engaged to enforce the restitution Judgment. After post-judgment discovery, we brought a fraudulent conveyance case against the perpetrator and his wife, seeking to set aside a deed the perpetrator had executed transferring the property to joint ownership. We won summary judgment, overcoming a substantial Statute of Limitations defense raised by the defendants with critical facts about the deed that were obtained in discovery.

After extensive litigation, we had the debtor’s property put up for a U.S. Marshal’s execution sale. The debtor stopped the sale by Bankruptcy Court filings. However, his attempt to save his house and a vacation condominium failed. Both were sold by the Trustee and the proceeds paid to his creditors.

To read more, click here.

Phoenix Asset Management v. X&Y Development Group, Supreme Court, Nassau County

We represented a real investor who assigned his contract to buy a prime development site in Flushing, Queens, to another developer. The assignee took title to the property and now is building a mixed-use project that will be the tallest building in Flushing when completed. After the closing, the assignee disavowed liability for the agreed-upon assignment consideration, contending that the contract contained unmet conditions precedent. In the ensuing litigation, we prevailed, winning summary judgment. The Court agreed with our interpretation of the contract. The decision was unanimously affirmed on appeal.

To read more, click here.

Rochdale Holding Corp. v. Neuendorf , Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County.

This case involved collecting a large debt owed by a figure in the international art world. The defendant stopped paying rent on the town house in which he and his family lived and moved to Germany without satisfying a large money Judgment entered against him. The defendant was the Chief Executive Officer of a public company which, through a New York subsidiary, owned a website considered to be an authoritative reference source on art sales. He continued to work for the company from Germany and aggressively defended all actions to enforce the Judgment against him. We prevailed in this litigation, including an appeal, and ultimately obtained a full recovery for our client. An important decision we won concerning the scope of wage garnishment proceedings against non-residents of New York was the subject of a New York Law Journal article.

To read more, click here .

Reinli v. Davy , Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County.

We represented an Australian citizen in a New York action to recover monies owed under a “Deed of Agreement,” a type of formal contract under Australian law. After we won summary judgment on liability, we resolved the case by a settlement for the full amount owed, including interest, costs and our attorneys’ fees.

To read more, click here .

Mashatt v. Fadel Al-Sahlani , Supreme Court, Queens County

No one is above the law, not even high holy men. In this unusual case, we were hired to enforce a settlement reached in commercial litigation involving a prominent New York City Imam. The Imam, who was a partner in a Rockaway, New York, gas station, claimed that he should be excused from making settlement payments because the gas station closed for months due to damage from a major storm. We overcame that and several other defenses and, after a long battle, won the case and entered Judgment for our client.

We then filed a fraudulent conveyance case against the religious organization headed by the Imam, to which he transferred his house. This case concluded with a settlement of the Judgment.

To read more, click here.

Hearst Magazines v. Greenstone/Fontana, Supreme Court, New York County

The defendant here was a major advertising agency on Long Island. It went out of business and filed a Bankruptcy Court petition. The agency had placed advertising in Good Housekeeping magazine for one of its clients. The agency, which was acting as agent for the advertiser, received funds to pay for the ad but did not place the money into an escrow account and instead used the funds for its own purposes. We obtained an assignment of right from the advertiser and sued the principals of the company personally, asking the Court to hold them liable for on corporate tort claims, including breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. After a lengthy trial, we prevailed and entered a Judgment against the defendants.

Our victory at trial was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division, Second Department, in May 2016. The Court upheld our theory of the case and found the individual owners of the agency were personally liable for breaching fiduciary duties owed to their client, the advertiser.

To read more, click here.

Rentrak v. Video U.S.A., United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Our client is a national corporation that leased DVDs to regional video rental chains pursuant to a revenue-sharing arrangement. One of its customers went out of business. It ignored warnings to return the rented products, which were owned by our client, and instead liquidated the units and used the proceeds to pay other debts, including debts to creditors that the company’s principal personally guaranteed. None of the proceeds were remitted to our client. We sued the company’s president on corporate tort claims and won summary judgment holding him personally liable for breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. The case settled before trial on the damage issue.

To read more, click here.

John Carey Cattle Company v. Air Cargo Associates, Inc., United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

After losing a federal court jury trial in a case by a cattle farmer seeking compensation for the death of cattle in transit to Puerto Rico, the defendant, a New York air cargo charter business, refused to pay the Judgment. It continued to operate its business with impunity for years. We were retained by the plaintiff, an elderly cattle farmer residing in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, as judgment enforcement counsel. After registering the Judgment in New York, we made a demand for payment and served Restraining Notice on the debtor. Rather than pay, the debtor intentionally violated the Restraining Notice, moved funds out of its bank accounts, and set up a new company to continue to operate its business. After we filed an application to hold the debtor and the company’s principals in contempt of court, the Judgment was paid in full, with interest.

Sacardi v. Greenfield, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Our client in this case was a Brazilian chef who prevailed at trial on wage claims against the restaurant where he was employed. By the time the Judgment was entered, the restaurant had closed and reopened under a new name and with new ownership. We were hired to collect the Judgment. After extensive post-judgment discovery, we filed fraudulent transfer litigation against the restaurant and its owners. The case went to trial. We reached a settlement before a decision was rendered.

Bogatz v. Herz, Supreme Court Kings County and United States Bankruptcy Court

Our client was a commercial landlord who won a Judgment years earlier against a party who guaranteed a defaulted lease. Although the Judgment was properly docketed as a Judgment lien on real property owned by the debtor, the property was transferred to various family members and eventually the mortgage thereon was refinanced. We thoroughly investigated the transactions and elected to proceed with an execution sale of the property, which we believe was still encumbered by our client’s Judgment lien even though now owned by others. We successfully defeated attempts to vacate the Judgment and stay the execution sale. We also won dismissal of the debtor’s Bankruptcy case and ultimately obtained full satisfaction of the debt owed to our client.

To read more, click here.

Fabio Sanchez v. Bennett Holding LLC, Supreme Court, New York County

Our client in this case was an injured construction worker who, through prior counsel, won a Judgment against the sponsor of a condominium project. The sponsor sold all the condo units while the suit went forward and then claimed there was no money left to pay the Judgment. Retained as Judgment enforcement counsel, we first conducted post-judgment discovery, which required contempt of court proceedings. Discovery revealed that the sponsor had improperly distributed monies from the condo sales to the investors in the project. We challenged those payments as fraudulent under the New York Debtor and Creditor Law in a special proceeding seeking a “turnover” order, naming the individual investors as respondents. The Court granted our application and directed that the funds be returned. The Judgment was ultimately satisfied.

To read more, click here.

Ziede v. Chow , Supreme Court of New York, Kings County, and Appellate Division, Second Department

In this case, a real estate investor sought to set aside her winning bid at a Sheriff’s Execution sale for real property located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. We put the property up for auction to satisfy a large judgment our client had obtained against the owner of the property. We defeated the bidder’s attempt to vacate the sale in the lower court and obtained a unanimous affirmance in the Appellate Division, Second Department. The Appellate Division held that the Sheriff’s sale was conducted appropriately and fairly and that the bidder’s claim that the sale should be set aside due to her mistake about what she was purchasing was without merit. Our client was awarded a Judgment against the defaulting bidder, which was paid in full.

To read more, click here .

Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C. v. Kingridge LLC/UNorth , Civil Court of the City of New York, County of New York

In this case we represented a law firm seeking to recover fees owed by a former client. The Court denied our motion for summary judgment on an account stated cause of action and ordered the case to trial. However, after a multi-day trial, we prevailed and won a judgment for the full amount of fees billed to the client, plus four years of interest, and court costs. The defendant appealed, but the Judgment was unanimously affirmed. We obtained full satisfaction of the Judgment after we restrained the debtor’s bank account and executed on it.

To read more, click here .

Pariser Industries v. T & T Laundry Corp. , Civil Court of the City of New York, Richmond County.

We represented a manufacturer of industrial chemicals in an action to recover for goods sold and delivered. We sued several corporations which had been formed to operate a commercial laundry business. We took this case to trial and won a Judgment on a “piercing the corporate veil claim” against a new corporation that had assumed operation of the business. Our victory was reported in the New York Law Journal . We recovered the entire debt owed to our client, with interest.

To read more, click here .

Colgate v. Broadwall Management Corp. , Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

We helped a tenant who, through prior counsel had won a rent overcharge case against her landlord. Years after she had given up hope of ever collecting, we took her case. We prevailed in proceedings to enforce her Judgment and fought off repeated attempts by the deep-pocketed defendant to vacate the Judgment, including prevailing on an appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department. We then prevailed in proceedings to recover our attorneys’ fees. We recovered the full amount of the Judgment, plus nearly 18 years’ interest and all fees and costs incurred.

To read more, click here .

American Banknote Corp. v. Daniele , Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

In this case we defended an Argentine husband and wife in a New York case filed by the husband’s former employer. The plaintiffs, represented by a major New York law firm, obtained an attachment of the couple’s U.S. bank accounts at the start of the case. We contested jurisdiction and the attachment and, after extensive litigation, including two appeals, and a trial on the jurisdictional issues, won a dismissal of the case. Our clients’ funds were returned with interest and we were awarded our attorneys’ fees for the wrongful attachment. Read more about the decision after the trialor the Appellate Division decision …

United States v. Nolasco , litigation in various courts in New York and New Jersey

We represented third parties who had millions of dollars wrongfully seized from their bank accounts by the federal government in connection with an arrest of a corrupt New York bank official. Acting as lead counsel for a group of similarly situated parties, we prevailed over the federal government and New York County District Attorney’s Office in complex litigation that moved from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, the New York State Appellate Division, First Department, and the New York Court of Appeals. Read more about …

Hearst Magazines v. BCLD Media Group LLC , Supreme Court New York County and the United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York

We represented the publisher of Town & Country magazine in a case against an advertising agency to recover charges for publishing a special insert. We also sued the principal of the company on a “piercing the corporate veil” claim. This case went to trial, where we prevailed and won a judgment against the company’s former owner personally. When the debtor filed a petition in Bankruptcy Court, we successfully contested the discharge ability of the debt owed to our client.

To read more, click here.

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