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Criswell v. Intellirisk Management Corporation, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

April 15, 2015

VICKI CRISWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
INTELLIRISK MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, INC. and ALLIED INTERSTATE, INC., Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Intellirisk Management Corporation, Inc.'s and Allied Interstate, Inc.'s ("Defendants") Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law [112] (the "Motion").

I. BACKGROUND

This is a civil case for breach of contract. Plaintiff Vicki Criswell ("Plaintiff") claims that Defendants breached an oral contract to (1) pay Plaintiff a bonus equal to twenty percent (20%) of the profits derived from a new contract with the Treasury Department, and (2) to provide her with stock options to purchase up to 550 shares of stock at $10.00 per share. Plaintiff seeks damages for breach of contract and attorney's fees under Ga. Code Ann. ยง 13-6-11.

Trial in this case began on April 13, 2015, and Plaintiff finished her case-in-chief on April 14, 2015. At the end of Plaintiff's case-in-chief, Defendants filed their Motion, and orally moved the Court for judgment as a matter of law.

Defendants assert that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's breach of contract claims because: (1) the oral contract is barred by the Statute of Frauds; (2) the oral contract is an unenforceable future promise; (3) there was no meeting of the minds as to whether Plaintiff would have permanent employment during the term of the Treasury contract; and (4) the contract is a nullity. Defendants next assert they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiff failed to present evidence upon which the jury could calculate damages with reasonable certainty. Defendants assert further they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's claim for attorney's fees because there is a bona fide controversy.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Rule 50(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides:

If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may:
(A) resolve the issue against the party; and
(B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a)(1).

To grant a motion under Rule 50, the Court must find "there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find' for the non-moving party." Chaney v. City of Orlando, 483 F.3d 1221, 1227 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Lipphardt v. Durango Steakhouse of Brandon, Inc., 267 F.3d 1183, 1186 (11th Cir. 2001)). In considering a Rule 50 motion, the Court focuses on the sufficiency of the evidence. Id. The Court must "review all of the evidence in the record and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." Cleveland v. Home Shopping Network, Inc., 369 F.3d 1189, 1192-93 (11th Cir. 2004). Credibility determinations, the drawing of inferences, and the weighing of competing evidence are functions for the jury, not the Court. Id. at 1193.

B. Analysis

1. Liability

Defendants assert that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's breach of contract claims because: (1) the oral contract is barred by the Statute of Frauds; (2) the oral contract is an unenforceable future promise; (3) there was no meeting of the minds as to whether Plaintiff would have permanent ...


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