(Left to right) Photos by Jordan Craig and Ann MacAffer.
BALLSTON SPA – Last month, a state Supreme Court judge dismissed a lawsuit resulting from a two-year dispute over expansion plans at the Saratoga Polo Association property on Bloomfield Road in Greenfield Center.
The Feb. 16 decision issued by Judge Thomas Nolan centered on the difference between a “legally enforceable joint venture” and “an unenforceable agreement to agree.”
Nolan granted a motion by defendants to dismiss the case “in its entirety,” clearly indicating that it belongs in the latter category.
Attorney Robert Ganz of the Albany firm Lippes, Mathias, Wexler and Friedman represented defendants Michael Bucci and James Rossi.
“It is my clients’ hope that that will be the end of it,” he said, referring to Nolan’s ruling. It can be appealed to a higher state court within 30 days, he added.
Ganz said the legal dispute revolves around the lack of a “binding commitment” to complete a substantial development project at the polo club.
Several years ago, Greenfield town officials approved a formal application for the same project.
As they entered into subsequent agreements, Bucci and Rossi intended to preserve club grounds that are “laden with tradition,” Ganz explained.
Specifically, Nolan reviewed details for the proposed construction of “70 residential units to supplement the existing polo operations” on the 43-acre site; and various financing arrangements for the project that were discussed by both sides in the legal dispute.
Plaintiffs Duane Gerenser, Carl Berry and Michael Connor had filed the lawsuit against Bucci and Rossi to “force control” of the development, according to Ganz.
The court decision referenced a total value for an agreement between the parties of $3.6 million.
Pioneer Savings Bank and First National Bank of Scotia also were named as parties to the dispute.
Attorneys for Berry, Connor and Gerenser at the Albany firm Cullen and Dykman could not be reached for comment.
In an “amended complaint,” Nolan wrote, the plaintiffs alleged eight “causes of action” against Green Fields Development and Saratoga Polo Catering and Event Services—the business entities set up by Bucci and Rossi.
Nolan indicated that a ninth allegation of “aiding and abetting the Green Fields defendants in their breach of fiduciary duty” was directed at Michaels and Laraway Holdings, LLC.
Still, Nolan wrote, “it is clear from its language that other documents had to be created before the contemplated joint venture became a legally enforceable business venture. The facts that plaintiffs elected to move forward with design and engineering consultants and incurred expenses before they had a final ‘deal’ cannot serve as the basis for the court to find that the parties agreed to all of the material terms to develop the polo property.
“In sum, the court finds that there was no enforceable contract between plaintiffs and the Green Fields defendants,” the judge concluded. “Thus, there can be no cognizable breach of the contract. All of the plaintiffs’ causes of action lack merit since they all are premised on the claim that there was a binding contract with Green Fields.”