Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wildenstein Dismissal Affirmed

Back in Sept. 2007, I mentioned the dismissal of a state court lawsuit against Guy Wildenstein. The Appellate Division has now affirmed, but, interestingly, two judges wrote separate dissents.

The case concerns an appraisal Wildenstein wrote and which the plaintiff claims overstated the value of the work. The majority affirmed the dismissal because there was no "basis for connecting [the plaintiff] to Wildenstein": "There is no allegation or evidence that Wildenstein even knew of [plaintiff's] existence (by name or anonymously) or that [plaintiff] or any other person would rely upon his opinion to buy the painting."

One dissenter agreed that the claims at law (fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, etc.) failed, but thought the equitable claim for unjust enrichment should survive: "There is no requirement that the aggrieved party be in privity with the party enriched at his or her expense."

The other dissenter thought the whole complaint should be reinstated: "Since the record does not establish what the relationships of any of the parties were, or what was known or unknown by any of them, the need for discovery is evident, and the motion to dismiss should be denied."

You can read the opinions here.