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Seeger Enterprises, Inc. v. Town & Country Bank and Trust Co.

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

April 7, 2017

SEEGER ENTERPRISES, INC. AND HARRY LOUIS SEEGER, IV APPELLANTS
v.
TOWN & COUNTRY BANK AND TRUST COMPANY APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM NELSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE JOHN DAVID SEAY, JUDGE ACTION NO. 11-CI-00108

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Jason P. Floyd John Douglas Hubbard Bardstown, Kentucky.

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: David A. Franklin Natalie Damron McCormick Lexington, Kentucky.

          BEFORE: KRAMER, CHIEF JUDGE; DIXON AND MAZE, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          MAZE, JUDGE.

         Appellants, Harry Seeger and his business, Seeger Enterprises Inc. (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Seeger"), appeal from a May 2015 judgment of the Nelson Circuit Court. Seeger argues that the trial court wrongly granted directed verdict on his claims of breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interferences with contract relations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He also argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it refused to tender a jury instruction on the claim of tortious interference with a prospective business advantage and refused to permit Seeger to amend his complaint.

         We conclude that the trial court committed no such error. Hence, we affirm.

         Background

         In 2010, Appellee, Town and Country Bank and Trust Company (hereinafter "Town and Country") held several mortgages secured against a single piece of property owned by Seeger. In an attempt to satisfy his debt to Town and Country, Seeger sought to sell the property. In October 2010, Seeger and his real estate agent, Rick Molyneaux, began discussions with James Hayden, a prospective buyer. According to Seeger's testimony at trial, the three reached an oral agreement that Hayden would purchase the property for $1, 650, 000. However, the parties never reduced the agreement to writing, and according to Seeger, when Molyneaux attempted to secure Hayden's signature on a sales contract shortly after their oral agreement, Hayden refused to sign. Town and Country eventually purchased the property for $800, 000 at a master commissioner's sale.

         Town and Country initiated foreclosure proceedings against Seeger on February 9, 2011. In addition to answering Town and Country's petitions, Seeger filed counterclaims, alleging that Town and Country, through its representatives, had intentionally interfered with the sale of his property to Hayden. More specifically, Seeger alleged that representatives of Town and Country "contacted or communicated to Mr. Hayden reasons why he should not fulfill the contractual agreement that he had reached with [Seeger] and as a result thereof, Mr. Hayden did not fulfill his agreement with [Seeger]." In addition to tortious interference with contractual relations, Seeger alleged that Town and Country's conduct constituted breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and of Town and Country's fiduciary duty to its "borrowers" because it prevented repayment of Seeger's debts.

         Following briefing, the trial court entered partial summary judgment as to Seeger's liability on his indebtedness to Town and Country. However, the trial court overruled Town and Country's motion for an order of sale, ordering instead that the parties undertake discovery and proceed to trial on Seeger's counterclaims. At the two-day jury trial, Seeger and Molyneaux testified concerning the events surrounding their failed transaction with Hayden. Hayden also testified, stating that he decided on his own not to purchase the property. The President of Town and Country and a member of its Board of Directors also testified and disavowed any involvement or interference with the transaction between Seeger and Hayden.

         At the close of proof, Seeger submitted proposed jury instructions which included an instruction on the claim of tortious interference with a prospective business advantage. Town and Country objected, and the trial court refused to tender the instruction, pointing out that the claim was not included in Seeger's counterclaim or subsequent pleadings. The trial court also denied Seeger's request for leave to amend his pleadings to conform to the evidence. Town and Country moved the trial court for directed verdict on all of Seeger's counterclaims. Following argument, the trial court granted this motion in a May 21, 2015, judgment which incorporated its prior grant of partial summary judgment. This resulted in an award of summary judgment in Town and Country's favor on all issues. The trial court subsequently overruled Seeger's motion to alter, amend, or vacate the judgment, and this appeal follows.

         Analysis

         Seeger argues that the trial court erroneously entered directed verdict on his claims of tortious interference with contract relations and breach of fiduciary duty, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He also contends that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to tender a jury instruction on the claim of tortious interference with a prospective business advantage and in ...


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