Justice Barbara Kapnick

Rampuri sued Stern alleging breach of contract and conversion. He was to secure the commitment of an ancient religious society of monks and yogis in India, the Juna Akhara, to participate in and lend their names to a spiritual event in New York City. Stern engaged Rampuri promising to pay him a $250,000 fee, plus expenses, and a donation in exchange for the Juna Akhara’s commitment. Stern assured Rampuri the event will take place, and Rampuri secured the commitment. But Stern abruptly informed Rampuri the event was canceled and refused to honor the commitment or pay Rampuri his fee or the donation. Rampuri claimed he was harmed by losing income he would have otherwise earned from engagements he had to forgo to secure the Juna Akhara’s commitment for Stern, and that his reputation was irreparably damaged. The court found as Rampuri’s services fell within the meaning of “negotiating” under General Obligations Law §5-701(a)(10), the Statute of Frauds applied. Thus, as there was no writing evidencing a contract, the breach of contract claim was dismissed. Yet, the court found Rampuri’s conversion claim regarding event materials he owned was sufficiently pleaded so as to survive dismissal.