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Kessler v. Antinora - 279 N.J. Super. 471, 653 A.2d 579 (Super. Ct. App. Div. 1995)

Rule:

In a joint venture, the term losses is not limited to monetary losses, but includes time expenditures and out-of-pocket expenses, especially where one party in a joint venture furnishes property and the other only services. Rendering services to an ultimately losing venture represents a valuable contribution, even though the laboring venturer risked no money capital.

Facts:

Plaintiff Robert H. Kessler and defendant Richard Antinora entered into a joint venture for the purpose of building and selling a single-family residence on a lot in Wayne in Passaic County, the terms of which stipulated that Kessler was to provide the money and Antinora was to act as general contractor. Profits would be divided – 60% to Kessler, 40% to Antinora – after Kessler was repaid. When the house was sold at a loss, plaintiff filed a suit against Antinora to recover his contributed capital. The Law Division judge ruled in Kessler’s favor on summary judgment. Antinora appealed.

Issue:

Under the joint venture agreement whereby Kessler provided money and Antinora provided labor, can the latter recover his contributed capital when the joint venture suffered a loss?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court held that the general rule of partnership law under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 42: 1-18(a), which provided that the parties would split the losses according to their share in the profits was inapplicable to plaintiff and defendant's joint venture agreement. The court further held that where one party to the joint venture agreement contributed money and the other labor, the other could not recover his loss from the other joint venturer.

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