Mishcon New York Secures Complete Win For Clients

Posted on 04 October 2012

In Vinewood Capital, L.L.C. v. Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami Trust, Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, and Ziad Rawashdeh, No. 4:06-CV-316Y (N.D. Tex. Oct. 3, 2012), Mishcon de Reya New York LLP secured a complete victory for both of its clients in a lawsuit alleging their breach of a $100 million oral contract. Plaintiff Vinewood Capital, L.L.C. (“Vinewood”), a real estate investment and development firm founded in 2004 by three individuals, W. James Conrad, Laird A. Fairchild, and Wendel Pardue, sued Dar Al-Maal Al-Islami Trust (“DMI Trust”), the parent company of a multinational Islamic banking, investment, and insurance group headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, Chairman of the Board of DMI Administrative Services, S.A., a Geneva-based administrative services company supporting DMI Trust. In addition to those two Mishcon clients, Vinewood also named as a defendant Ziad H. Rawashdeh, the former Director-General of DMI Administrative Services S.A. Mishcon also represented Mr. Rawashdeh until his retirement in 2011.

The suit turned on an alleged oral contract between and among Messrs. Abdulla-Janahi and Rawashdeh, on behalf of DMI Trust, and Mr. Conrad, on behalf of Vinewood, purportedly created during a conversation between the three men in Geneva in June 2004. According to Vinewood, the alleged contract required that (i) Mr. Conrad create a new company to find and propose real estate investment opportunities to DMI Trust, (ii) DMI Trust or an affiliated company invest $100 million in real estate development projects sourced by Vinewood in 2005, (iii) DMI Trust provide Vinewood with a loan of $2.5 million for start-up costs, and (iv) Vinewood be the asset manager for the projects in which DMI Trust invested. In 2006, Vinewood commenced its action for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, promissory estoppel, and attorneys’ fees in a Texas State Court.

After successfully removing the case in 2006 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Mishcon consistently argued that the conversation in Geneva (i) was only the start of a negotiation concerning a potential new business relationship, (ii) included no agreement by DMI Trust to invest in anything, and (iii) ultimately resulted in written agreements between the parties. Moreover, Mishcon contended that all of Vinewood’s claims should fail as a matter of law, because all of the objective evidence supported DMI Trust, not Vinewood.

On October 3, 2012, Honorable Terry Means of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted Defendants’ motions for summary judgment on all counts, dismissing all of Vinewood’s extant claims for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, promissory estoppel, and attorneys’ fees, with prejudice, against all defendants.

For more information contact Timothy J. McCarthy in Mishcon’s New York office, at 212-612-3270.