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Delville v. Firmenich Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 3, 2014

JEAN CLAUDE DELVILLE, Plaintiff,
v.
FIRMENICH INCORPORATED, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Jean Claude Delville, Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Anne L. Clark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jeremiah Joseph Iadevaia, Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., New York, NY.

For Firmenich Incorporated, Defendant: Gregory Bertram Reilly, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, A Michael Weber, Anna Nesterova, Littler Mendelson, P.C. (NYC), New York, NY.

For Firmenich Incorporated, Counter Claimant: Gregory Bertram Reilly, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Anna Nesterova, Littler Mendelson, P.C. (NYC), New York, NY.

For Jean Claude Delville, Counter Defendant: Anne L. Clark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jeremiah Joseph Iadevaia, Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., New York, NY.

For Jean Claude Delville, Counter Defendant: Anne L. Clark, LEAD ATTORNEY, Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., New York, NY.

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OPINION AND ORDER

J. PAUL OETKEN, United States District Judge.

This case was tried before a jury from November 5 through November 13, 2013. On November 14, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Jean Claude Delville and Defendant Firmenich Incorporated (" Firmenich" ) on their respective breach of contract claims, and against Delville on his age discrimination and retaliation claims. Delville has moved to amend the judgment to add prejudgment interest. Firmenich has cross-moved to vacate Delville's breach of contract judgment. For the reasons that follow, Delville's motion to amend is granted and Firmenich's motion to vacate is denied. Delville is awarded prejudgment interest in the amount of $54,631.55.

I. Background

Familiarity with the background of the case is presumed. The Court discusses only those aspects that are relevant to the instant motions.

Delville is a renowned perfumer who worked for Firmenich, a prominent international manufacturer of perfumes and flavors, from April 1, 2000 to July 2, 2007. Under his initial employment agreement (the " 2000 Agreement" ), Delville was entitled to a base salary of $425,000, a yearly contribution in a CAP Plan of $50,000, and the opportunity to earn up to an additional $150,000 annually under Firmenich's Incentive Compensation Plan (" ICP" ), which rewarded perfumers with bonuses based upon the adoption values of their perfumes, namely, the value resulting from a client's selection of a perfumer's creation for manufacturing, marketing, and sale. The agreement also contained a provision requiring Delville to " regard and preserve as confidential: (i) all trade secrets and/or other proprietary and/or confidential information belonging to Firmenich," and prohibiting him from using any confidential information for the benefit or purposes of any person or entity other than Firmenich. (Dkt. No. 30, Ex. 10 at 7.) Finally, the

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agreement contained a " merger clause" providing: " This Agreement contains the entire agreement between [the parties] with respect to the transaction contemplated herein and supersedes all previous" agreements, and its " terms shall not be altered or otherwise amended except pursuant to an instrument in writing signed by each of the parties hereto and making specific reference to this agreement." ( Id. at 9-10.)

On April 5, 2000, the parties executed the Employee's Secrecy Agreement (the " Secrecy Agreement" ), which provided in relevant part:

[Delville] agrees during [his] employment and subsequent thereto to treat as secret and confidential and not to disclose, directly or indirectly, or to make use of any and all technical information, formulae, processes, customer lists, supplier lists, purchase or sales data, or any other information respecting research, development and discoveries disclosed to [Delville] or obtained by [him] during [his] employment.

(Dkt. No. 30, Ex. 11.) The agreement further provided that Delville must " keep accurate and complete laboratory and research notes," and " [a]ll such notes and note books therefor shall be and remain the property of [Firmenich] to be surrendered at [Firmenich's] demand." ( Id.)

In March 2007, Firmenich informed Delville that it did not intend to renew his employment agreement. On April 1, 2007, Firmenich offered Delville a new employment agreement proposing a four-day work week at 80% pay (the " 2007 Agreement" or " Employment Agreement" ). Delville reluctantly accepted the offer in May 2007, but in June 2007 began discussing the possibility of employment with Symrise, A.G. (" Symrise" ). On June 27, 2007, Symrise made Delville an offer of employment, and Delville sent a letter to his boss, Jerry Vittoria, and other executives suggesting that his age was a factor in Firmenich's decision to cut his hours. On July 2, 2007, Delville submitted his letter of resignation. He was 58 years old.

Delville commenced this action alleging age discrimination and retaliation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq., and the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107 et seq., as well as breach of contract with respect to the CAP Plan and the ICP for failure to make timely payments. Firmenich asserted counterclaims for breach of contract (with respect to the Secrecy Agreement), breach of fiduciary duties, breach of the duty of loyalty, unfair competition, misappropriation of company property, and unjust enrichment.[1] The basis for Firmenich's counterclaims was ...


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