The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; JAY C. WALDMAN
This is a tax refund case. Plaintiff sued to recover payments he made to satisfy tax deficiencies of 5727 Bar Inc. of which plaintiff was the sole shareholder. After a trial, a jury found that plaintiff was entitled to a refund of $ 12,907.30 plus interest. Presently before the court is defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or, in the alternative, Motion for New Trial.
Judgment as a matter of law should be entered only when taking the evidence and all inferences justifiable therefrom in a light most favorable to the prevailing party, it appears that a rational jury could not have found in favor of that party. Bhaya v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 832 F.2d 258, 259 (3d Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 1004, 102 L. Ed. 2d 774, 109 S. Ct. 782 (1989); Aloe Coal Co. v. Clark Equipment Co., 816 F.2d 110, 113 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 853, 98 L. Ed. 2d 111, 108 S. Ct. 156 (1987).
A new trial is appropriate only when the verdict is contrary to the great weight of the evidence or errors at trial produce a result inconsistent with substantial justice. Roebuck v. Drexel University, 852 F.2d 715, 735-36 (3d Cir. 1988). A new trial for the reason that a verdict is against the weight of the evidence should be granted only where permitting the verdict as rendered to stand would result in a miscarriage of justice. See Klein v. Hollings, 992 F.2d 1285, 1290 (3d Cir. 1993).
Plaintiff owned and operated a Philadelphia pub under the name 5727 Bar Inc. In 1983, he sold the business to a new operator and held the shares and a mortgage on the property as collateral for the installment purchase payments agreed upon. When the purchaser defaulted on her payment obligations, plaintiff reacquired title to the business in 1986.
Plaintiff received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") dated March 10, 1987 addressed to plaintiff at his home address, which stated that the IRS had not received full payment of plaintiff's tax liability for 5727 Bar and that it would "assess a penalty against you, as a person required to collect, account for, and pay over withheld taxes for the above corporation. . . . If we do not hear from you within 30 days, we will have to assess the penalty and bill you."
Plaintiff also received an undated letter from the IRS to 5727 Bar, Inc. care of plaintiff at his home address, which stated in bold print that it was a "Final Notice (Notice of Intention to Levy) Reply Within 10 Days to Avoid Enforcement Action and Additional Penalties" and that this "letter is your notice that we intend to levy upon your property or rights to property." Failure to pay the amount due would result in
"enforcement action without any further notice to you. We may file a notice of Federal tax lien which is public notice to your creditors that a tax lien exists against your property. We may serve a notice of levy on your employer for salary or wages you are due, and may levy on any bank accounts, receivables, commissions, or other kinds of income you have. We may also seize your property or rights to property, such as automobiles, and sell it to satisfy your tax liability."
Plaintiff thereafter paid the IRS $ 6,000 to satisfy FICA and withholding tax deficiencies of 5727 Bar. Plaintiff testified that he did so because he believed that he could be held responsible for the corporate tax deficiencies and ...