United States District Court, D. Vermont
ELHANNON LLC, et al. Plaintiffs,
THE F.A. BARTLETT TREE EXPERT Company, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
William K. Sessions III District Court Judge
before the Court is Defendant's motion in limine
to permit Defendant to introduce evidence on
cross-examination of prior lawsuits and claims involving
Plaintiffs' principal, D. James Sutton. For the reasons
set forth below, Defendant's motion is
case arose from a contract and fraud dispute between
Plaintiffs Elhannon Wholesale Nurseries, LLC; Elhannon
Wholesale Nurseries, LLC; and Elhannon Wholesale Nurseries,
Inc. (collectively “Elhannon”) and Defendant F.A.
Bartlett Tree Expert Company (“Bartlett”).
Bartlett originally filed an action in small claims court and
Elhannon subsequently filed this case. Elhannon's
principal allegation is that Bartlett failed to perform under
a series of contracts entered into between Elhannon and
Bartlett, for Bartlett to design and implement a pest
management program for Elhannon's entire tree nursery.
Elhannon alleges that Bartlett employees underserviced the
nursery, leading to a large scale outbreak of disease and
insects on its trees; that Bartlett applied chemicals that
were not approved for use in Elhannon's nursery in order
to attempt to control an incipient outbreak; and that
Bartlett falsified its records to give the impression that it
was doing more work at Elhannon than it actually performed.
Amended Complaint alleges six causes of action: breach of
contract, negligence, negligent misrepresentation,
intentional misrepresentation/fraud, fraud in the
performance, and violation of New York's General Business
Rule. ECF 27.
Other Sutton Fraud Claims
originally moved for an order permitting them to
cross-examine Elhannon's principal D. James Sutton
(“Sutton”) about five prior and currently pending
lawsuits and one additional incident concerning fraud
allegations which Sutton had reported to the police. ECF No.
161. Bartlett later filed a supplemental pleading describing
another Sutton lawsuit they wish to admit. ECF 213. Together,
these six lawsuits and one additional police report are
referred to as “Other Sutton Fraud Claims.” They
are described below.
Employee check kiting and payroll fraud reported to the
2006, Felicity Purzycki (then Harrington), who had just
started working at Elhannon, told Sutton that she believed
two employees were stealing from the company and involved in
a check kiting and payroll fraud scheme. ECF 172-2 at 2.
After reviewing the company's accounting records, Sutton
reported this misconduct to the police. Id.
According to Sutton's deposition, one employee confessed
to the police. ECF 161-1 at 3. These allegations did not
result in any criminal charges. Id. at 6.
Crow & Sutton Associates, Inc. v. C.R. Klewin Northeast,
LLC et al.
case, Crow & Sutton Associates (“C&S”),
an entity for which Sutton serves as Chief Executive Officer,
was a subcontractor on a construction project in Connecticut.
Crow & Sutton Associates, Inc. v. C.R.
Klewin Northeast, LLC et al., No. HHDX04CV054016823S,
2010 WL 2573954 (Conn. Sup. Ct. May 21, 2010). C&S
alleged that it did not receive all payment owed.
Id. C&S brought multiple claims including
contract-based claims under a payment bond, misrepresentation
claims, and violations of Connecticut's Unfair Trade
Practices Act. Id. Some claims were found to be
time-barred, and others were defeated on summary judgment.
Sutton v. Barriere, Sup. Ct., Rensselaer County
case concerns a dispute between Mr. and Mrs. Sutton and their
attorney. The Suttons became embroiled in a surety dispute
with their surety company in July 2000. ECF No. 213-3. They
retained an attorney to represent them in an action against
their surety company. Id. During that action, there
was disagreement over whether certain accounts should be
placed into escrow. Id. At the conclusion of that
lawsuit, they brought suit against their attorney about
whether those accounts should have been placed in escrow.
Id. The Suttons brought claims for fraud, ...