Judgment has been reversed for an Indiana concrete leveling company after the Indiana Court of Appeals found an Ohio judgment of more than $155,000 entered against the company is void due to lack of personal jurisdiction.
After a contracted parking lot paving project went wrong, Concrete Management Solutions, an Ohio construction company, sued Indiana corporation Ferrand Laser Screeding, Inc., owned by Billy Ferrand, Billy’s brother, Kenny Ferrand, and two other companies the men formed together.
CMS brought suit against the defendants after it claimed that FLS performed a faulty job of finishing a parking lot in Connecticut, therefore breaching its agreement with CMS. When FLS did not answer the complaint, CMS obtained a default judgment in Ohio for $155,121.54.
Still not having received payment from FLS after a few years, CMS brought an action against FLS in Putnam County, naming Billy, Kenny and their newly formed companies Reliable Equipment Rental Inc., and Reliable Screeding Inc. The suit alleged, among other things, that after CMS sued FLS in Ohio, Billy and Kenny formed RER and RS in Indiana and then executed an agreement transferring FLS’s assets to RER “for the sole purpose of avoiding the creditors of FLS and to avoid paying FLS’s debt to Plaintiff.”
Specifically, CMS requested to domesticate and collect on the Ohio judgment. The Putnam Circuit Court held a bench trial in May 2019, ultimately domesticating the Ohio judgment against FLS and holding the other defendants liable for the judgment. However, the court concluded that CMS had not proven its fraudulent-transfer and Indiana’s Crime Victims Relief Act claims and entered judgment for the defendants on those.
The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, agreed with the defendants that the Ohio court lacked personal jurisdiction over FLS and therefore reversed the trial court’s domestication of the Ohio judgment.
“And because CMS’s veil-piercing, fraudulent-transfer, and CVRA claims are based on the existence of a valid Ohio judgment, those claims are moot, and the trial court should have dismissed them without reaching their merits,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the appellate court.
“Here, the Defendants contend that the only act on the Ohio list that could apply is the first one — ‘Transacting any business in this state’ — and that FLS contracting with an Ohio company to work on a Connecticut project did not amount to ‘transacting business’ in Ohio. CMS does not dispute that
‘Transacting any business in this state” is the relevant subsection but argues that FLS did ‘transact business’ in Ohio when it entered into the contract. We agree with the Defendants,” the panel wrote.
Upon finding that Ohio’s long-arm statute did not confer personal jurisdiction over FLS, the appellate court therefore concluded that the Ohio judgment is void and reversed the trial court’s judgment, remanding for the entry of a revised judgment consistent with its opinion.