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Stafford v. Gareleck

Court of Appeals of Georgia

February 24, 2015

STAFFORD
v.
GARELECK et al

Page 170

Fraud, etc. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Glanville.

Judgment reversed.

David A. Anton, for appellant.

Raley & Sandifer, John W. Sandifer, Benjamin D. Lorber, for appellees.

McMILLIAN, Judge. Phipps, C. J., and Ellington, P. J., concur.

OPINION

Page 171

McMillian, Judge.

Grant Stafford appeals the trial court's order dismissing his complaint asserting claims for fraud, conversion, breach of fiduciary [330 Ga.App. 758] duty, and accounting against Steven S. Gareleck and RSC Tennis, LLC (the " LLC" ), arising out of the sale of the LLC. We reverse for the reasons set forth below.

" On appeal, we review a trial court's decision to grant or deny a motion to dismiss de novo." Liberty County School Dist. v. Halliburton, 328 Ga.App. 422, 423 (762 S.E.2d 138) (2014). And " [i]n reviewing the grant of a motion to dismiss, an appellate court must construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the appellant with all doubts resolved in the appellant's favor." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Ewing v. City of Atlanta, 281 Ga. 652, 653 (2) (642 S.E.2d 100) (2007). We may also consider any exhibits attached to and incorporated into the complaint and the answer, also construing them in the appellant's favor. Trop, Inc. v. City of Brookhaven, 296 Ga. 85, 89 (2) (764 S.E.2d 398) (2014); Islam v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 327 Ga.App. 197 (757 S.E.2d 663) (2014).

And as our Supreme Court has explained, a motion to dismiss should not be granted unless " the allegations of the complaint disclose with certainty that the claimant would not be entitled to relief under any state of provable facts asserted in support thereof[.]" (Citation omitted.) Austin v. Clark, 294 Ga. 773, 774-775 (755 S.E.2d 796) (2014). See also Anderson v. Flake, 267 Ga. 498, 501 (2) (480 S.E.2d 10) (1997). Therefore, the movant must establish that the plaintiff cannot possibly introduce evidence within the allegations of the complaint entitling him to the relief sought. Austin, 294 Ga. at 774-775.

Stafford filed his complaint on December 30, 2013, and filed an amended complaint on March 24, 2014. The complaint, as amended, asserted that Stafford and Gareleck were members of the LLC, and Gareleck was a managing member. Beginning in late 2011, Life Time Fitness, Inc. (" Life Time" ), a Minnesota-based company, expressed an interest in buying the LLC, and Life Time, in fact, purchased the company in February 2012 for an unknown amount. In the interim, on January 28, 2012, Gareleck presented a document to Stafford that he represented Stafford must sign in order to effectuate both the sale of the LLC to Life Time and the transfer and payment of Stafford's share of the proceeds, which Gareleck said amounted to $170,099.22 (the " Contract" ). Stafford signed the document based on Gareleck's representations. Stafford asserts, however, that unbeknownst to him, the document transferred his interest in the LLC to Gareleck, allowing Gareleck to underpay Stafford the true value of his membership interests and to defraud Stafford out of his fair share of the sale proceeds.

Stafford later obtained information that led him to believe that he had been underpaid, defrauded, or otherwise tricked by Gareleck [330 Ga.App. 759] into signing away his interest in the LLC. Stafford notified Gareleck that the amount he received was unacceptable, that he was demanding additional money and documentation evidencing the sale of the LLC to Life Time, and that he was rescinding the Contract. Stafford asserts that in response, Gareleck acknowledged Stafford's rescission of the Contract and agreed to pay Stafford additional money and provide documentation. Despite this representation, Gareleck has failed to pay Stafford additional money or to provide documentation of the sale. Stafford asserts that he is entitled to full payment of his interest in the LLC.

The complaint additionally alleged that Gareleck engaged in misconduct in his role as a ...


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