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CAMPANA v. ALPHA BROADCASTING CO. (03/29/76)

decided: March 29, 1976.

CAMPANA
v.
ALPHA BROADCASTING CO., INC., APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, No. 72-2268, in case of Vincent Campana v. Alpha Broadcasting Co., Inc.

COUNSEL

J. Julius Levy, Thomas J. Foley, Jr., and Levy, Preate & Purcell, and Rosser, McDonald, Marcus & Foley, for appellant.

Ambrose R. Campana, and Campana & Campana, for appellee.

Watkins, P.j., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Van der Voort, J. Spaeth, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Van Der Voort

[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 40]

This case arises on appeal by defendant from a judgment of the court below based upon a jury verdict in the amount of $6,600, without interest, in favor of the plaintiff. Appellant-defendant contends that the verdict and judgment should have been either for $13,386.83, with interest, or in favor of appellant.

The litigation is an action in assumpsit based on an alleged breach of an employment contract whereby appellee was hired by appellant as Vice President and General Manager of radio station WLYC in Williamsport for a period of 3 years at a monthly salary of $1,100. Appellee was dismissed after serving for 2 months and 4 days, and thereupon sued for the balance of his salary,

[ 239 Pa. Super. Page 41]

    less money earned from other employment during the remaining term of the contract.

Under the terms of the contract, appellee was to "faithfully perform his duties . . . along guidelines set by the management [or defendant appellant] may at its election and upon notice . . . terminate the employment." Appellee was given such guidelines at the beginning of the contract term but was discharged two months later on the ground that he had failed to carry out such instructions. Appellee denied that he had failed to perform his duties within the guidelines, and that issue was submitted to the jury. The amount that appellee earned in other employment during the balance of the contract period was not in dispute, although appellant contended that it could have been larger if appellee had not given up a certain employment for another at a lesser salary.

The jury found in favor of the appellee, thereby establishing that appellee had been wrongfully discharged. The undisputed testimony shows that he actually earned $13,386.83 less during the period that the contract was terminated than he would have earned had the employment contract been carried out. Whether he could have earned still more was in dispute. The jury awarded him $6,600. Plaintiff did not appeal the judgment on the award, but the defendant did.

Appellant contends that the award was obviously a compromise and that for that reason it should have a new trial. The court below, in denying a motion for a new trial, said that it was not apparent to the court that the verdict was a compromise. The court pointed out that there was disputed testimony that appellee might have further mitigated damages had he not voluntarily elected to leave one job for a lesser paying one.

But even if the verdict was a compromise, this is not a basis for a new trial unless the verdict was so unreasonably low as to present a clear case of injustice. With ...


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