Metcoff v. NCT Group, Inc.
The Connecticut Supreme Court in the 2010 decision of State v. Scott re-iterated that, "the trial court is uniquely situated to entertain a motion to set aside a verdict as against the weight of the evidence because, unlike an appellate court, the trial [court] has had the same opportunity as the jury to view the witnesses, to assess their credibility and to determine the weight that should be given to their evidence…" Jerrold Metcoff and David Wilson, principals and majority stock-holders of Midcore Software Inc., brought suit against Michael Parrella, Sr., the chief executive officer and chairman of NCT Group, Inc. and certain subsidiaries including NCT Midcore, Inc. arising out of an agreement under which Midcore Software merged into NCT Midcore. The plaintiffs contended that they never received the stock or royalties promised by the defendant in the merger agreement and in false representations to them. Following trial, the jury found that the defendant had made negligent and intentional misrepresentations to the plaintiffs and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, C.G.S. §42-110a. The jury awarded Metcoff damages of $559,982 and Wilson $496,318 on the negligent misrepresentation claim and Metcoff, $113,855 and Wilson, $143,434 on the intentional misrepresentation claim. The court summarily denied the defendant's motion to set aside the verdict claiming inter alia, that no reasonable jury could interpret the merger agreement as the plaintiffs alleged, nor fail to find the action not barred by the statute of limitations, nor award the damages in the verdict as a matter of law. The court rendered judgment on the verdict and awarded attorneys' fees of $540,000 and punitive damages of $257,289 under CUTPA and $17,089 in common-law punitive damages. The defendant appealed challenging the denial of his motion to set aside. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. Given the evidence at trial, the jury reasonably could have found as it did. With no articulation on the factual and legal bases for denying the motion to set aside, it could not be concluded that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding attorneys' fees and punitive damages and its decision was adopted as a statement of the issues and applicable law concerning the issue.