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RAY A. LOKAY v. LEHIGH VALLEY COOPERATIVE FARMERS (04/26/85)

filed: April 26, 1985.

RAY A. LOKAY
v.
LEHIGH VALLEY COOPERATIVE FARMERS, INC., APPELLANT



No. 02544 Philadelphia 1983, APPEAL FROM THE ORDER ENTERED SEPTEMBER 1, 1983 IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEHIGH COUNTY, CIVIL NO. 303 JUNE TERM 1976

COUNSEL

Oldrich Foucek, III, Allentown, for appellant.

Thomas E. Weaver, Jr., Allentown, for appellee.

Cavanaugh, Cirillo and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 93]

Lehigh Valley Cooperative Farmers, Inc. (hereafter "Lehigh"), appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County dismissing its exceptions and denying its motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, in the alternative, for a new trial. We affirm.

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 94]

While motions for judgment n.o.v. and for a new trial are usually combined as alternative motions, we must review rulings on them under different standards. Judgment n.o.v. is proper only in a clear case; in reviewing its denial, we examine the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict-winner, including all reasonable inferences arising from the evidence, and we resolve any conflicts in the evidence in favor of the verdict-winner. Giambra v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co., 315 Pa. Super. 231, 233, 461 A.2d 1256, 1257 (1983); Mattox v. City of Philadelphia, 308 Pa. Super. 111, 115, 454 A.2d 46, 48 (1982), quoting Atkins v. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, 489 Pa. 344, 351, 414 A.2d 100, 103 (1980); Schneider v. Albert Einstein Medical Center, Etc., 257 Pa. Super. 348, 354-55, 390 A.2d 1271, 1274 (1978). A verdict for the plaintiff, which survived a motion for judgment n.o.v., must stand if there is evidence upon which the jury could find that the defendant was liable. Karam v. Pennsylvania Power & Light Co., 205 Pa. Super. 318, 322, 208 A.2d 876, 878 (1965); Powell v. Wandel, 188 Pa. Super. 57, 146 A.2d 61 (1958).

By contrast, the trial court has broad discretion whether to grant a new trial. Its denial demands that we examine all the evidence and decide whether the trial court manifestly or capriciously abused that discretion or made an error of law. Yandrich v. Radic, 291 Pa. Super. 75, 79, 435 A.2d 226, 228-29, appeal dismissed 499 Pa. 271, 453 A.2d 304 (1982); Scaife Co. v. Rockwell-Standard Corp., 446 Pa. 280, 290, 285 A.2d 451, 456, cert. denied 407 U.S. 920, 92 S.Ct. 2459, 32 L.Ed.2d 806 (1972); Calabria v. Brentwood Motor Coach Co., 412 Pa. 486, 194 A.2d 918 (1963); Ferick Excavating and Grading v. Senger Trucking Co., 315 Pa. Super. 69, 74, 461 A.2d 800, 802 (1983); see also Bumbarger v. Kaminsky, 311 Pa. Super. 177, 457 A.2d 552 (1983).

Appellant Lehigh processes raw milk for sale to retail stores. In the early 1970s, appellant began negotiations with Topco Associates, Inc., an Ohio firm and appellee's

[ 342 Pa. Super. Page 95]

    former employer, for appellant's sale of milk products to various retail food chains. As part of these negotiations, appellant sent Topco copies of its financial reports for the fiscal years ending January 31, 1970, and January 31, 1971. Appellee reviewed these two reports as part of his duties as Division Manager for Topco.

Appellant's chief operating officer at that time, Richard Allison, told appellee on three occasions in 1971 that appellee might consider employment with appellant. Early in 1972, Allison and appellee began to negotiate terms for appellee's employment. This involved at least two meetings and several telephone conversations; during one meeting appellee and Allison ...


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