Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
SANG B. YOO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
IL JAE AHN, ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Richard Agopian.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE L. Bryan Carr.
BEFORE: Kilbane, J., Keough, P.J., and E.A. Gallagher, A.J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
EILEEN KILBANE, JUDGE.
Defendant-appellant, IL Jae Ahn ("Ahn"), appeals
from the trial court's judgments denying his motion for a
new trial, setting aside a transfer of property, and awarding
punitive damages and attorney fees. For the reasons set forth
below, we affirm.
The instant appeal arises from a $39, 400 judgment
plaintiff-appellee, Sang B. Yoo ("Yoo"), obtained
against Ahn for passing a bad check to Yoo in a previous
case, Yoo v. Ahn, Cuyahoga C.P. No. CV-03-507552.
Yoo recorded a judgment lien in that amount in May 2004, and
renewed the lien in February 2009 and December 2013.
In June 2014, Yoo initiated the instant case against Ahn and
his sister, Miyeon Kim Ahn ("Miyeon"), alleging a
single cause of action - fraudulent conveyance to a creditor.
Yoo alleges that in September 2011, Ahn purchased a property
located at 12118 Lenacrave Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio for $6,
500. In November 2011, Ahn sold the property to Morom Begum
("Begum") for $74, 600. Then in January 2013, Begum
sold the property to Miyeon for $74, 600, the same amount
Begum paid for the property. As a result, Yoo claims these
transactions were a fraudulent transfer of Ahn's interest
in the property to his sister, Miyeon, with the intent to
defraud Yoo as a creditor. Yoo further alleges these
transfers were made without consideration.
In December 2015, the matter proceeded to a trial before the
bench. The following evidence was adduced at
trial. Yoo obtained judgment against Ahn in the amount of
$39, 400 and recorded a judgment lien in the same amount in
May 2004. Yoo renewed her judgment lien, without dispute from
Ahn, in February 2009 and in December 2013. Ahn acknowledged
that Yoo was a creditor and has a judgment lien against him.
In July 2011, Household Realty Corporation ("HRC")
purchased its mortgage at a foreclosure sale for $1, 687 for
the Lenacrave property. In August 2011, Ahn purchased this
property from HRC for $6, 500. In October 2011, Ahn
transferred the property to Begum for $74, 600. There was no
purchase agreement memorializing the transaction. The tax
mailing address for the property listed on the deed was
Ahn's rental property in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Ahn
testified that Begum is a family friend.
Then in January 2012, Begum transferred the property to
Miyeon, who at the time was going through a divorce in
Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court.The consideration
was $74, 600, the same as the previous transaction. Yoo
testified that there was a purchase agreement memorializing
this transaction, but he does not have a copy of it. He
further testified that the tax mailing address for Miyeon was
the same address as in the previous transaction. Yoo
testified that Miyeon has never worked and had no financial
ability to purchase the property. He further testified that
Miyeon lives in Korea and does not plan to return to the
United States. In her divorce decree, Miyeon indicated that
she did not have any interest in any real estate in Ohio.
At the conclusion of the evidence, Ahn moved for a directed
verdict. The trial court denied the motion and asked the
parties to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions
of law. In June 2016, the court issued its findings of fact
and conclusions of law. In its decision, the court found that
the transfers by Ahn to Begum (without a purchase agreement
memorializing the transaction) and then to Miyeon (without a
purchase agreement memorializing the transaction) was a
fraudulent transfer of Ahn's interest in the property to
his sister. As a result, Yoo was entitled to avoidance of the
prior transfer of the property to Miyeon. The trial court
judicially rescinded the deed executed on January 9, 2012
(recorded on January 13, 2012) and transferred the property
back into Ahn's name. The trial court awarded Yoo $50,
000 in punitive damages and set the matter for a hearing to
determine the amount of attorney fees that should be awarded
Ahn filed a motion for a new trial in light of the trial
court's decision. On December 28, 2016, the trial court
entered a judgment in which both Yoo and Ahn entered a
stipulation for $14, 997.39 as Yoo's "attorney fees
while preserving [Ahn's] right to argue entitlement of
attorney fees." That same day, the trial court denied
Ahn's motion for a new trial.
Ahn now appeals, raising the following six assignments of
error for review. For ease of discussion, we will discuss the
assignments together where appropriate.
Assignment of Error One
The [Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act] does not support the
court's action in setting aside ...