Ibar v. Stratek Plastic Limited
Absent any evidence requiring the recusal of a trial judge, the judge was required to hear and decide this case pursuant to Rule 2.7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Jean-Pierre Ibar, a scientist and inventor, entered into a shareholder agreement with Jose Luis Turullois in1999. They formed Plastitech Ltd. to develop and market Ibar's technology. In 2002, they needed additional funding. A firm agreed to invest $5.5 million but not in Plastitech, an off-shore company. Stratek Plastic Limited was formed in Dublin, Ireland. Ibar became Stratek's director of technology and assigned his interest in various patents to Stratek. Ibar was terminated. He brought this breach of contract action against Stratek, later consolidated with a fraudulent conveyance action brought by Stratek against Ibar. The court directed a verdict for Stratek on Ibar's breach of contract claim, finding no evidence of an express contract for Ibar to receive 40.5 percent of Stratek's shares, as claimed. Ibar appealed, challenging the directed verdict and denial of his motion to set aside that verdict. He also claimed that the judge was not "independent and unbiased" and he suffered from the improper administrative handling of the case by judicial branch personnel. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Ibar's motion to recuse. No evidence supported his contention that the trial judge, A. Robinson, J., had "preconceived notions about the case." Although Judge Robinson denied Ibar's application for a prejudgment remedy, as explained in the 2010 Appellate Court case of Burns v. Quinnipiac University, "the fact that a trial court rules adversely to a litigant, even if some of these rulings were determined on appeal to have been erroneous, does not demonstrate personal bias." Absent evidence requiring recusal, Judge Robinson was required to hear and decide the case. Further, Ibar was given every opportunity to present evidence establishing his contract with Stratek. That he was unable to do so was not the fault of the judges and clerks responsible for the administrative handling of the case. The court properly directed the verdict given Ibar's failure to present a prima face case of breach of contract. Stratek was not a party to the 1999 agreement. Turullois' communications did not establish that Stratek ratified the 1999 agreement.