Unlike the testimony and evidence regarding 3M, that regarding Fasson was timely and relevant for the jury's consideration. Therefore, the Court did not err in admitting and allowing the jury to consider evidence and testimony regarding the Fasson business.
3. Special Verdict Form
Schoeller alleges that it was denied a fair trial because the Special Verdict Form did not conform precisely to the jury charge insofar as Interrogatory Number 1 addressed only Schoeller's unilateral commitment to sell, making no reference to Paper Corporation and Hallmark's corresponding obligations. This allegation is without merit.
The jury answered "yes" to Interrogatory Number 1 of the Special Verdict Form, which read:
In 1987 or 1988, did Paper Corporation and Schoeller enter into an agreement pursuant to which Schoeller agreed that Paper Corporation would serve as its exclusive sales agent and that it would supply Hallmark, through Paper Corporation, with a stated quantity of greeting card paper, at a price set according to an agreed upon formula, for an ascertainable period of time?
In order to find the existence of an agreement, the jury was required to follow the Court's instructions regarding the term "agreement". The charge had explicitly clarified the elements of consideration and the mutuality of obligations that are required for an enforceable agreement. There is no requirement that the Court recharge the jury on the definition of each term used in an interrogatory on the Special Verdict Form.
The Second Circuit has made clear that when evaluating the adequacy of special interrogatories, the interrogatories must be "considered in conjunction with the district court's charge." Cutlass Prod., Inc. v. Bergman, 682 F.2d 323, 327 (2d Cir. 1982). Special interrogatories conform to the required standards when, "considered in conjunction with the district court's charge," "they clearly present the material fact issues raised by the pleadings and evidence." Id.
Therefore, because the interrogatories on the Special Verdict Form, considered in conjunction with the jury instructions, fairly and clearly submitted the issues of consideration and the mutuality of obligations to the jury as essential to the finding of an agreement, Schoeller's claim that it was denied a fair trial as a result of the special interrogatories necessarily fails.
Each of Schoeller's allegations regarding errors made by the Court during the course of the trial -- allegations regarding the inadequate definition of the issues at trial, the Court's failure to give a corrective instruction regarding testimony and evidence related to the Fasson business, and the apparent inconsistency between the jury charge and the Special Verdict Form, fails to be substantiated in the analysis Schoeller offers. As a result, none of these allegations constitutes a ground on which Schoeller's motion for a new trial can be granted.
C. The Jury Verdict was Not Excessive
A district court has the authority, pursuant to Rule 59, Fed. R. Civ. P. to set aside an excessive verdict and order a new trial on damages when the quantum of damages found by a jury is clearly outside the maximum limit of a reasonable range. See Reinertsen v. George W. Rogers Constr. Corp., 519 F.2d 531, 532 (2d Cir. 1975); Taylor v. Washington Terminal Co., 133 U.S. App. D.C. 110, 409 F.2d 145, 149, cert. denied, 396 U.S. 835, 24 L. Ed. 2d 85, 90 S. Ct. 93 (1969); Cosentino v. Royal Netherlands S.S. Co., 389 F.2d 726 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 977, 21 L. Ed. 2d 438, 89 S. Ct. 441 (1968).
Schoeller does not allege that a defect in the jury instructions infected jury deliberations on the issue of damages.
Rather, Schoeller contends that the verdict returned in Paper Corporation's favor is excessive and requires the drastic corrective action of a new trial because it awarded almost all of the losses claimed by Paper Corporation for the period of 1989 through 1992 as calculated by Paper Corporation's damages expert, Mary Woodford ("Woodford").
Schoeller's proofs at trial and in support of this motion call into question the methodology employed by Woodford in calculating the damages to which she testified, asserting that the "conservative" calculations of its accounting expert, Schnackel, were more sound. However, this difference of opinion between experts over the calculation of damages does not constitute a difference between an excessive and a reasonable award. The difference of opinion here is not so extreme as to cast one side, to wit, Paper Corporation, beyond the pale of reasonableness.
Schoeller would have the Court set aside the jury's verdict on the ground that "Woodford's calculations were replete with error and represented a blatant attempt to maximize Plaintiff's damages." Defs.' Mem. 42. A reasonable jury, which took into consideration Woodford's testimony and opinions in light of the entirety of Paper Corporation's proofs and most importantly in light of Schoeller's cross-examination of Woodford and the expert rebuttal testimony it presented, could have found Woodford to be a credible witness and agreed with her methodology and opinions.
There is nothing on this record that supports Schoeller's assertion that Woodford's calculations were so blatantly erroneous and her assumptions so seriously flawed that the jury's verdict inflicted a grave injustice on Schoeller. The quantum of damages found by the jury was not clearly outside the maximum limit of a reasonable range, and therefore the relief Schoeller requests is not justified.
For the foregoing reasons, Schoeller's motion for a judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial is denied.
It is so ordered.
New York, N.Y.
November 25, 1992
ROBERT W. SWEET