Sulaiman J. Jadallah
Town of Fairfax, Stacy Wells, Gabriel Handy and Sidon Pantry, LLC
Appeal from Superior Court, Franklin Unit, Civil Division
Michael J. Harris, J.
Sulaiman J. Jadallah, Pro Se, Milton, Plaintiff-Appellant.
P. Monaghan and James F. Conway, III of Monaghan Safar Ducham
PLLC, Burlington, for Defendants-Appellees Town of Fairfax
and Stacy Wells.
D. Fallon, Hinesburg, for Defendants-Appellees Gabriel Handy
and Sidon Pantry, LLC.
PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Skoglund, Robinson,  Eaton and Carroll, JJ.
1. Appellant, Sulaiman Jadallah, asks this Court to reverse a
trial court's decision that: (1) denied appellant's
request to vacate a settlement agreement between himself,
appellee Gabriel Handy, and appellee Sidon Pantry, LLC under
Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b); and (2) granted
summary judgment in favor of appellee Town of Fairfax and
appellee Stacy Wells. For the reasons set out below, we
2. This appeal arises out of a seemingly complex factual
background. In 1994, appellant began operating a restaurant
situated on a parcel of real property that he owned. Nine
years later in 2003, Handy loaned appellant money. To secure
the loan, appellant executed a quitclaim deed for the real
property to Handy (2003 Deed), which the parties agreed that
Handy could record should appellant fail to repay Handy.
Appellant repaid the loan to Handy's satisfaction, and
thus, Handy did not record the 2003 Deed.
3. In 2007, appellant again experienced financial difficulty
and sought a loan from Handy. Handy agreed to loan appellant
money pursuant to terms laid out in a promissory note, which
appellant signed. The loan was secured by a second quitclaim
deed for the real property to Handy (2007 Deed). The
promissory note and the 2007 Deed were signed by appellant
and Handy and notarized by Wells on October 2, 2007. The 2007
Deed and promissory note provided that, if appellant failed
to make timely repayment of the loan, Handy would be required
to give notice to appellant and allow appellant fifteen days
to cure the default. Upon appellant's failure to cure,
Handy would record the 2007 Deed, which would transfer title
of the property to Sidon Pantry, Handy's company.
4. Subsequently, appellant was incarcerated for an unrelated
legal matter and failed to make payments to Handy, as
required by the promissory note, and to the State of Vermont
for rooms and meals taxes. As a result of appellant's
default, Handy recorded the 2007 Deed and Wells signed the
attestation stamp as to the fact and date of the recording on
April 7, 2008. Handy filed the Vermont Property Transfer Tax
Return (VPTTR) on the same day and paid the relevant transfer
taxes and back room and meals taxes thereafter.
5. When appellant was released from prison in mid-April 2008,
Handy told appellant that he had recorded the quitclaim deed.
On April 30, 2008, a mortgagee of the property sent appellant
a letter informing him that an unauthorized transfer of the
property had occurred in violation with the mortgage's
provisions. Further, on March 9, 2009, a letter from
appellant's attorney for a bankruptcy proceeding informed
Handy's attorney that a May 2008 title search revealed a
transfer of the property by appellant to Handy. In 2010,
Handy cleared title to the property by paying off the two
mortgages encumbering the property. In 2014, appellant
purported to grant an easement in the property to his son.
The easement deed referenced the 2007 Deed as a
"fraudulent deed" that did not actually convey the
property to Handy and his company.
6. Appellant filed a complaint initiating this lawsuit on
October 7, 2014. Appellant asserted an array of claims
against the four appellees. The claims against all appellees
included: slander of title, negligence, fraud, deceptive acts
and practice, trespass, and conversion. Appellant also
asserted a claim for breach of contract against Handy and
Sidon Pantry and a claim for intentional interference with
contractual relations against the Town of Fairfax and Wells.
The Town and Wells filed a motion to dismiss these claims,
which was denied.
7. Appellant and appellees Handy and Sidon Pantry entered
into mediation, settled their dispute, and filed a stipulated
dismissal order in March 2015. All parties were represented
by independent counsel during the negotiations and signing of
the settlement agreement. Prior to closing on the settlement,
appellant's then-attorney requested additional language
be added to the quitclaim deed to clarify and protect
appellant's position. In the final settlement, appellant
released any interest in the property to Handy and Sidon
Pantry through a quitclaim deed (2015 Deed), each party
dismissed all claims against the other, and all parties
agreed that appellant's claims against the Town and Wells
"shall not be affected by [the] Agreement." The
trial court reviewed the settlement documents and entered an
order dismissing the settled claims per the settlement.
Further, the parties entered into a lease agreement, which
stated that appellant could lease the premises with the right
to purchase if all payments were made per the agreement. And,
if appellant breached the lease agreement, Handy would have
the right to foreclose and redeem the property. The case
against the Town and Wells continued.
8. On March 4, 2016, appellant filed a motion for relief from
judgment under Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 60, requesting
that the court vacate the March 2015 settlement agreement on
the basis that Handy and his attorney allegedly engaged in
fraud when drafting and obtaining appellant's signature
on the settlement documents. All four appellees opposed the
motion for relief from judgment on several grounds. On August
16, 2016, the Town and Wells filed a motion for summary
judgment on all causes of action. V.R.C.P. 56. The Town and
Wells argued, among other things, that: (1) the statute of
limitations on each of appellant's claims expired; (2)
appellant, by signing the 2015 Deed and settlement agreement
admitted the authenticity and legality of the 2007 Deed,
thereby negating a necessary element of each of ...