W. K. Robinson, Inc. v. Friedrich

CourtCircuit Court of Connecticut. Connecticut Circuit Court, Appellate Division
Citation197 A.2d 96,2 Conn.Cir.Ct. 174
Decision Date12 July 1963
Docket NumberNo. CV,CV
PartiesW. K. ROBINSON, INC. v. Donald E. FRIEDRICH. 16-623-1133.

David L. Gussak, with whom, on the brief, was I. Albert Lehrer, West Hartford, for appellant (plaintiff).

Allen J. Segal, Plainville, for appellee (defendant).

PRUYN, Judge.

The plaintiff, engaged in the business of selling fuel oil at retail and servicing oil burners in Hartford County, and the defendant, a truck driver in its employ, on March 26, 1959, entered into an agreement whereby the plaintiff agreed to send the defendant to Boston for schooling and training in the servicing of oil burners and to pay his tuition and expenses as well as his regular wages while in Boston, and the defendant agreed that immediately on completing the prescribed course in Boston he would return to work for the plaintiff as an oil burner salesman and would not accept employment with a competing oil company in Hartford County prior to January 1, 1964. The defendant did attend the school in Boston for the prescribed period and on completion thereof did return to the employ of the plaintiff as an oil burner serviceman at an increase in hourly wages from $1.64 to $1.74. The plaintiff paid the defendant's tuition, expenses and wages while he was in Boston, totaling $705. The defendant remained in the plaintiff's employ until the middle of December, 1961. The evidence was conflicting as to whether he then left the plaintiff's employ voluntarily or was discharged. He thereupon obtained employment as an oil burner serviceman first with a competing oil firm in Hartford County and later in the same capacity with another similar firm in Hartford County. At the trial, it was conceded that he had not brought or attempted to bring with him any of the plaintiff's customers, that he had not divulged any of its trade secrets or practices and that the plaintiff's income had not been impaired. At the trial, the plaintiff abandoned its claim for an injunction and limited itself solely to a claim for damages of $705, the sum expended by it on the defendant's behalf while the defendant was in Boston. The jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiff for $1 damages.

The plaintiff moved to set aside the verdict on the sole ground of inadequacy. The motion was denied. The plaintiff has appealed. No appeal was taken by the defendant. The plaintiff has assigned error in certain actions of the court on receipt of a question from the jury during their deliberations, in the failure of the court to charge the jury in respect to nominal damages and in its denial of the plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict as inadequate.

In its charge to the jury, the court clearly expounded the law relating to damages, incorporating therein in substance those of the plaintiff's requests to charge which related to damages, and then specifically instructed the jury that under the claims of proof the plaintiff could not recover the full amount of $705, since the defendant after his schooling did return and work for the plaintiff for about two and a half years, but that if the jury's verdict was to be for the plaintiff, damages could be allowed for the remaining two years of the contract in such amount as the jury might consider to be fair and just. The plaintiff did not take any exceptions to the charge.

During the deliberations of the jury, the bailiff handed to the presiding judge in his chambers a note from the foreman of the jury inquiring whether the court would accept a verdict for $1. The attorneys for the respective parties were then summoned to the judge's chambers and were told by the judge that he interpreted the note as indicating that the jury had found a valid restrictive covenant and that the defendant had breached it, but that the plaintiff had failed to prove damages, and that he was going to answer the question in the affirmative. During the informal discussion which followed, counsel for the plaintiff expressed disappointment that no damages were being awarded and counsel for the defendant expressed disappointment that the plaintiff was being awarded a verdict at all. The presiding judge then directed the bailiff to return the note to the foreman with his answer of 'yes.' When court resumed after this discussion in the chambers, the question was repeated in open court in different language, 'May the jury render a verdict for the plaintiff for $1.00?' and an affirmative answer was given to the jury by the court. The jury...

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3 cases
  • State v. Harris, CR
    • United States
    • Circuit Court of Connecticut. Connecticut Circuit Court, Appellate Division
    • 26 Mayo 1967
  • State v. Hauan, 84-276
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • 20 Noviembre 1984
    ...without hindrance or obstacles and to allow the actions of the police to proceed calmly, efficiently and without difficulty." Id. at 173, 197 A.2d at 96. It went on to find that although the defendant in that case had shouted obscenities at officers carrying out an investigation, no hindran......
  • Phenious v. State, 333
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 11 Marzo 1971
    ......Baltimore Transit Co., 224 Md. 195, 197 A.2d 96, Emery v. F. P. Asher, Jr. & Sons, Inc., 196 Md. 1, 75 A.2d 333. See Whittemore v. State, 151 Md. 309, 315, 134 A. 322. The rule applies ......

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