Procedural Posture

Plaintiff former employee and defendant former employer both appealed a judgment of the Superior Court of Alameda County (California), which granted directed verdicts to each of the parties on different groups of stocks that were at issue in the former employee’s action to recover the value of all the stocks that he alleged had been promised to him as a term of his employment.

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Overview

The former employee alleged that at the time of his termination he was entitled to 131 shares of dividend stock and 723 1/4 shares of bonus stock. The former employer asserted that the former employee was entitled to no stock because he had been terminated due to unsatisfactory service. After a jury trial, the trial court directed a verdict in favor of the former employee for the value of the dividend shares, and directed a verdict in favor of the former employer for the bonus shares. On appeal, the court noted that despite a personal satisfaction clause, the issue of the former employer’s good faith was one for the jury, and that parol evidence regarding what the former employer alleged to be an accord and satisfaction could raise doubts as to that document’s meaning. The court held that in view of the evidence and the different inferences that might fairly be drawn therefrom, even in the many instances where the same was not directly conflicting, conclusions either way would be supported, and such being the case the issues should have been determined by the jury, so that a directed verdict was erroneous.

Outcome

The court reversed both directed verdicts.

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