Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Albert J. Branch Revocable Trust v. Interstate Battery Center

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

May 26, 2017

Albert J. Branch Revocable Trust, Albert J. Branch, Trustee
v.
Interstate Battery Center et al.

         Providence County Superior Court, PC 09-5894, Associate Justice Richard A. Licht.

          For Plaintiffs: Nicholas Gorham, Esq. David M. D'Agostino, Esq.

          For Defendants: Russell Bramley, Esq.

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

          OPINION

          GILBERT V. INDEGLIA ASSOCIATE JUSTICE.

         Albert J. Branch Revocable Trust Dated March 4, 1993, and Albert J. Branch Trustee (plaintiffs) appeal from the Superior Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants: Interstate Battery Center, Evanna, Inc., Interstate Battery System of Central Mass., Inc., Kenneth L. Machonis, in his capacity as President of Interstate Battery System of Central Mass., Inc., and Charles Trottier, in his capacity as District Manager of Interstate Battery System of Central Mass., Inc. (defendants). This breach-of-contract case stems from a dispute over an alleged commercial lease agreement (lease) between the plaintiffs, owners of property located at 492 Reservoir Avenue in Cranston, Rhode Island (the premises), and the defendants, who plaintiffs contend breached the terms of the lease. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we vacate the judgment of the Superior Court.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         A

         The Corporate Enigma

         Before discussing the facts pertinent to this appeal, we briefly outline the confusing set of corporate entity-defendants that undergird this case.

         The defendant Kenneth Machonis was the president of Interstate Battery System of Central Mass., Inc., located at 139 Washington Street in Auburn, Massachusetts, which Machonis described as a wholesale car-battery distributorship that routinely serviced racks of batteries and delivered them to commercial garages. Machonis organized a separate corporation, Evanna, Inc., to "distance a new program from [his] existing corporation of many years." This "new program" was Interstate All Battery Center, a retail operation that sold a broader array of batteries than Interstate Battery System of Central Mass., Inc., including batteries for cars, cellphones, laptops, watches, etc.[1]

         In his deposition, Machonis explained that Evanna, Inc., which was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts, was doing business as Interstate All Battery Center. In other words, as former employee Charles Trottier[2] explained, Interstate All Battery Center was a franchise and "just the name of the stores, " and it was part of Evanna, Inc. Additionally, Machonis indicated that he operated an Interstate All Battery Center, separate and distinct from the wholesale distributorship, at 139 Washington Street in Auburn, Massachusetts, the same location as that of Interstate Battery System of Central Mass., Inc. Critical to this case, an Interstate All Battery Center was operated on the premises at 492 Reservoir Avenue in Cranston.

         B

         The Lease

         The plaintiffs allege that on November 5, 2005, they entered into the lease with defendants for defendants' continued operation of an Interstate All Battery Center at the premises.[3] The lease appears to include fourteen pages of terms and conditions as well as an appended lease exhibit (exhibit) that listed further details, including the annual rent, the lease's term, and the expiration date of October 31, 2010.[4] The exhibit listed the landlord as "Albert J. Branch Trustee, " and the tenant as both "Interstate Battery Center" and "Interstate Battery, " with the latter appearing above a line for the tenant's signature. The exhibit described ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.