The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chin, District Judge.
In this case, plaintiff Wilfred R. Caron, an attorney, contends
that defendant The Travelers Property and Casualty Corporation
("Travelers") fraudulently induced him to leave a job at the
Department of Justice ("DOJ") for a position at Travelers. The
claim of fraud is based on alleged misrepresentations and
omissions made to Caron by his friend of more than forty years,
Samuel F. Simone.
In 1989, when Caron became dissatisfied with his job at DOJ, he
considered giving up the practice of law to become a monk.
Instead, he embarked on a massive search to find a new job. When
his efforts were wholly unsuccessful, he turned to Simone, who
was then an attorney employed by Travelers. Simone was able to
obtain a job for Caron at Travelers.
After approximately a year, however, Caron's employment with
Travelers was terminated. He was unsuccessful in his efforts to
find new employment. He then commenced this action, alleging that
Travelers — and in particular his friend Simone — had
fraudulently induced him to leave DOJ.
The case was tried to a jury. The jury found that Travelers had
defrauded Caron and awarded him $250,000 in damages.
Travelers moves for judgment as a matter of law dismissing the
amended complaint, or, alternatively, for a new trial. Caron
moves for prejudgment interest.
Travelers's motion for judgment as a matter of law is granted,
for no reasonable jury could have found, by clear and convincing
evidence, that Simone and Travelers acted with the intent to
defraud Caron. Rather, to the contrary, a reasonable jury could
have only concluded that Simone acted not to deceive or hurt
Caron, but rather, to help him. Indeed, the evidence showed that
Simone had known Caron for more than forty years, that they had
gone to high school, college, and law school together (for at
least part of the time), that Simone had introduced Caron to his
wife and was in Caron's wedding party, and that Simone bent over
backwards to help a friend who was in need find a job. In
addition, a reasonable jury could only have concluded that Caron,
a sophisticated, experienced, and intelligent attorney who had
practiced law for decades, could not have reasonably relied on
Travelers's alleged misrepresentations and omissions. To the
contrary, it was clear that Caron was anxious to leave his job at
DOJ, that he had made extensive, unsuccessful efforts to find new
employment, and that he would have accepted the position at
Travelers in any event. Accordingly, the amended complaint is
Caron's motion for prejudgment interest is denied as moot.
The following facts are drawn from Caron's trial testimony or
are otherwise undisputed, and all conflicts in the evidence have
been resolved in his favor:
Caron is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer who has been
practicing law for more than forty years. He held various jobs in
both the private and public sectors, and in 1987 he became a
limited partner in a Washington, D.C. law firm. By March 1988, he
was asked to leave because he was not "sufficiently profitable
for the firm." (Tr. 46). He remained at the firm for several more
months. He eventually obtained a position with the Office of
Legal Policy at DOJ as senior counsel, starting in October 1988.
He had not received any other job offers when he accepted the DOJ
Caron soon became dissatisfied with his job at DOJ. He
attempted to obtain a different position within DOJ, but was
unsuccessful. He then took an extended unpaid leave of absence,
from September 1989 to mid-April 1990, during which he
considered, among other things, giving up the practice of law and
becoming a monk. He decided against that option after spending
four weeks in a monastery and instead embarked on an extensive
job search, applying for a wide range of legal and non-legal jobs
in the private and public sectors all over the country. He sent
out more than eighty resumes and applied for such jobs as law
school dean, Chief of Drug Policy for the City of Memphis,
general counsel for an association, director of compliance for a
securities brokerage firm, legal trainer for a law firm, and
other law firm positions. He responded to advertisements and also
sent unsolicited letters to law firms and recruiting firms. He
did not, however, receive one job offer.
Caron understood that Simone was in charge of what was, "in
essence, . . . a negligence office for Travelers in White
Plains." (Tr. 221). Caron called Simone to seek his help in
finding a job, and Simone arranged an interview for Caron with
Travelers's New York City SLO. Simone did so to help a friend,
and Caron conceded at trial that he "doubted" that there was
"anything in it" for Simone when Simone arranged the interview.
(Tr. 222-23). Caron went to the interview with the understanding
that he would be interviewing not for a position as head of a
centralized appeals office for Travelers, but as an attorney
doing appeals within the New York City SLO. Caron was advised at
the interview, however, that there was no position available for
him in the New York City SLO. Caron testified that he would have
accepted the position had it been offered to him. (Tr. 223-25).
The next day, Caron met with Simone and "pitched" the idea that
Travelers consolidate all of its New York appellate work in a
single office and hire Caron to run the office. At the time,
Travelers was not looking for an appellate lawyer, had not
advertised for one, had not contemplated consolidating its
appellate work in one office, and had not been seeking to recruit
Caron away from DOJ. (Tr. 230-31). Simone told Caron that he
would take up Caron's proposal with his superiors at Travelers.
To assist Simone, Caron drafted a two-page letter, dated April
10, 1990, setting forth the benefits of consolidating Travelers's
appellate work. (PX 8). He later supplemented the letter with an
addendum. (PX 8). Neither document reflected any understanding by
Caron that Travelers would require SLOs to send their appeals to
a central appeals office.
Simone raised the idea of an appeals project with Oliver
Dickins, who was then head of the staff counsel operations for
Travelers. Dickins told Simone that the project sounded like a
good idea, as long as it was cost-effective. Dickins asked Simone
to check with the managers of other SLOs. Simone did so, and he
reported to Caron that all but one of the SLO managers were
"supportive" or "positive." (Tr. 67, 231-33, 337).
In May 1990, Simone called Caron and informed him that if Caron
were hired, he would have to start out as an appellate lawyer in
Simone's SLO, an arrangement that, as Caron testified, "didn't
particularly disturb [him.]" (Tr. 72). Caron and Simone met, at
Simone's mother's house over a spaghetti dinner, to discuss the
matter, and Caron's only real concern was that he not be required
routinely to do "the usual work of a trial [lawyer] doing defense
work for insurance companies." (Tr. 73). Caron asked Simone about
job security and Simone told him that as long as his performance
was good, there should not be a problem.
Caron completed and signed an employment application, in which
he acknowledged that "[e]mployment at The Travelers is for no
fixed period of time and may be terminated by [him] or The
Travelers at any time, with or without cause, and with or without
advance notice." (DX 125). Caron was aware that if he ...