Tamara Watson Small, Karel Hula v. Thomas Viere
Tamara Watson Small, Karel Hula v. Thomas Viere, Estate of Mary Viere, deceased (2001)
Mary Viere signed a contract to purchase the Duneland Beach Inn and Hunter Restaurant in Michigan City, Indiana. The contract was negotiated by her husband, defendant Thomas Viere. The transaction closed with a provision for a second mortgage in the amount of $90,000 to Rings clients, Karel Hula and Tamara Watson Small. Since August 1995, plaintiff Hula had prepared financial statements for the operation of the inn and restaurant showing net profits ranging from $14,000 to $56,000. After closing the sale, the plaintiffs filed a corporate tax return showing a net profit of $6,500. Plaintiffs did their own accounting and prepared their own tax returns. Rings client filed suit to collect on the promissory note. Defendant counterclaimed seeking damages for fraud in the inducement, claims under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act (ICFDPA), and claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and sought punitive damages. The court dismissed the ICFDPA and RICO claims and entered a directed verdict for Small on the punitive damages. Plaintiffs contended that the operating statements were not materially different and that defendants did not rely on false statements. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Rings clients on all counts on the counterclaim and awarded them 100% of the amount due under the note. The defendants agreed to pay Rings attorney fees in addition to the verdict awarded by the jury, which was provided for under the terms of the note.