Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ryan v. Crown Castle NG Networks (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 13, 2016)

Justice Rushing doesn't mince words:

"Plaintiff Patrick S. Ryan brought this action against his former employer, NextG Networks, Inc., and its successor Crown Castle NG Networks Inc. (collectively NextG). He alleged in essence that NextG had breached a promise to grant him lucrative stock options as a condition of his employment. The case went to the jury with an unclear special verdict form and unhelpful instructions."

Whoa.  Tell us what you really think about what the trial court did.

After describing the jury's verdict (and the trial court's refusal to grant a new trial), Justice Rushing goes on:

"We will reverse with instructions to grant a new trial. The court was fully empowered and indeed obligated to make an independent assessment of the adequacy of the verdict. Moreover, the verdict was unmistakably unsound. If viewed as an award of tort damages, it had no foundation in law. If viewed as an award of contract damages, it had no foundation in fact. It is in all likelihood the product of juror confusion, improper compromise, or some combination of the two. Either way the findings of liability are sufficiently suspect that a retrial cannot fairly be limited to damages. Accordingly, we will direct that the court conduct a new trial on all issues unless plaintiff elects to stand on the previous judgment."

The Court of Appeal clearly didn't like pretty much anything that transpired below in this case.