Maine Supreme Judicial Court has denied an appeal from a Van Buren heating oil delivery company that sought payment from the owner of a now defunct Presque Isle convenience store.
William Smith, attorney for Tulsa Inc. in Van Buren, represented the company before the Law Court when he argued the case against JT’s Market Inc. on Dec. 5. The ruling was decided on Dec. 19.
The market was once owned by John L. Thyng of Presque Isle.
In late 2016, Thyng purchased the assets of the former Buck’s Market, located on Mapleton Road in Presque Isle, from its former owner, Buck’s Market Inc.
Thyng created a corporation, JT’s Market Inc., that purchased the assets and operation of Buck’s Market, according to court documents.
In late September 2016, Steven Perrault and Keith Perrault, both from Tulsa Inc., met with Thyng at his request to discuss buying gas from Tulsa for resale. They discussed delivery and payment terms for gas at the meeting, court documents said.
Tulsa said in court documents that Thyng indicated he was buying Buck’s Market and allegedly told Steve Parrault, “I have money in my personal account. If Buck’s Market won’t pay you, I’ll pay you out of my personal account.”
Thyng denied making the statement, and there was no written agreement between the parties, according to court documents. Kim Lajoie, also of Tulsa, noticed in February 2017 that Buck’s Market’s gas account was being paid by a check from JT’s Market. When she asked Thyng if he wanted future bills to go to JT’s Market Inc., Thyng allegedly told her to continue just the same as they were doing. The fuel delivery continued until JT’s Market fell behind on payments in July 2017.
Afterward, Tulsa claimed that Steven Perrault met with Thyng, who reportedly again made an oral promise to pay any outstanding debts out of his personal account.
Thyng denied this, according to court documents, but he admitted telling Lajoie in October 2017 that he was trying to get a loan to pay the account with Tulsa.
The market remained in default and the business closed in March 2018, owing Tulsa $113,904.49.
A two-count complaint was filed in court on March 16, 2018. The first count sought a $113,904 judgment against JT’s Market Inc. for goods sold and delivered, but not paid for. The second count alleged that Thyng personally guaranteed that he would pay the debts of JT’s Market Inc. to Tulsa, and requested a judgment in the same amount.
After the court ordered on December 2018 that JT’s Market pay Tulsa $113,904, plus interest and costs, Thyng moved for summary judgment on count two of the complaint. (Summary judgment is a judgment entered by a court for one party and against another party without a full trial.)
Aroostook County Superior Court Justice William Stokes ruled in Thyng’s favor in May, granting the summary judgment and thereby not holding Thyng personally responsible for paying the debt.
Afterward, there was confusion over whether Stokes’ ruling disposed of all of Tulsa’s remaining claims against JT’s Cash Market Inc. or Thyng.
While Stokes believed that the summary judgment ruling disposed of all of Tulsa’s remaining claims, Tulsa’s attorney, Smith, disagreed, according to court documents.
Smith appealed the judgment for Tulsa Inc., and told the Law Court that there was still a breach of contract issue remaining from count one.
During oral arguments, several of the justices noted that Smith did not file a post-judgment motion to correct the record as a result of believing an error had been made during the Superior Court proceeding with Stokes.
Smith told the Law Court that he instead chose to appeal the case to correct the record.
In the Dec. 19 Law Court decision, the justices ruled that Stokes did not err in believing that his ruling disposed of all of Tulsa’s remaining claims against JT’s Market Inc. or Thyng.
Luke Rossignol, attorney for Thyng, said Thursday that, essentially, JT’s Market Inc. owes $113,904 to Tulsa. The corporation, which he said Thyng lawfully set up, does not exist anymore.
“The facts were never in place to support a claim against my client,” he said. “The corporation owes money for the debt, but it has no assets and no income.”