Reyes v. Chetta
In calculating damages, it was not unreasonable to conclude that because the plaintiff was left with only 30 percent of the accounts purchased, those accounts were insufficient to maintain the business, and thus, the defendant's conduct resulted in the total loss of the business and not just 70 percent. Michael Amoroso sold his landscaping business to Nicholas Chetta and received a promissory note of $85,000 under which Chetta was to make monthly payments to Amoroso until the debt was paid in full. In case of default, Amoroso could accelerate payment of the entire unpaid balance. Chetta sold the accounts to Estuardo Reyes for $50,000. Reyes paid the full purchase price to Chetta without assuming any obligation under Chetta's prior note to Amoroso. Chetta stopped making payments due to Amoroso. Amoroso observed Reyes performing landscaping services for a former customer. Reyes informed Amoroso of the purchase from Chetta. Amoroso contacted his former customers, asking for their business back and instructing them to cancel their services with Reyes. Amoroso estimated that 70 percent rehired him. Reyes filed a multi-count complaint against Amoroso and Chetta. Following trial, the court rendered judgment, relevantly, for Reyes on a tortious interference count against Amoroso, awarding $50,000 in damages, plus prejudgment interest of $20,383.57. Amoroso appealed challenging the determination that he tortiously interfered with Reyes' business relations and the damages and prejudgment interest awards. The Appellate Court reversed the interest award and, otherwise, affirmed the judgment. There was ample evidence in the record from which the trial court reasonably could have concluded that Amoroso's conduct was tortious. Chetta's default did not support Amoroso's claim to the contrary. Amoroso's agreement with Chetta specifically provided for Amoroso's remedies—none included taking back his customers. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding damages of $50,000. The court specifically found that Amoroso's conduct deprived Reyes of receiving any benefit from his purchase. Amoroso's argument was rejected that the award should be 70 percent of $50,000 because he solicited only 70 percent of his customers back. It was not unreasonable to conclude that the remaining 30 percent of the accounts were insufficient to maintain the business. Prejudgment interest awarded under C.G.S. §37-1 was improper because Reyes did not assert a claim for a liquidated sum of money wrongfully withheld from him.