On March 2, 2012, a Suffolk County jury in the Business Litigation Session returned a verdict in favor of Goodman Industrial Equities Management Group, LLC (“GIE”) - a real estate development firm - and its principal. Tyler E. Chapman and Benjamin J. Wish of Todd & Weld LLP represented GIE and its principal during a multi-day trial.
The case concerned a profit-sharing claim by a former employee against GIE. The employee based his claim upon an allegation that GIE had promised him a share of the profits and that he had relied on this promise to his detriment. Thus, the plaintiff's claim was not that there was a contract, but that the promise was enforceable under a legal theory known as “detrimental reliance” or “promissory estoppel.” The jury, however, concluded otherwise - finding that the plaintiff had failed to prove that he detrimentally relied on the promise and returning a verdict for GIE.
The victory comes after the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed a prior jury verdict in the same case in 2010. As the Appeals Court held in overturning the prior jury's verdict and ordering a new trial, “the jury could have found, had they been asked, that [the employee] did not suffer any detriment from continuing to work at GIE without receiving the additional payments he had been promised.” Suominen v. Goodman Indus. Equities Mgmt. Group, LLC, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 723, 732 (2011). In the retrial, after the evidence closed, the jury was asked the question that they were not asked in the first trial and found no detriment, returning a verdict for Defendants.