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Federal Court Denies Jury Trial in Breach Of Contract And Fiduciary Duty Breach Claims

Damage Recovery Systems, Inc. v. Tucker, No. Civ. 02-1647-SLR, 2005 WL 388597 (D.Del. Feb. 2, 2005) . Plaintiff filed an action in 2002 alleging that the defendant had breached: (1) a non-compete covenant in his Consulting Agreement with Plaintiff; and had (2) aided and abetted the breach of fiduciary duties owed by plaintiff's former officer. Plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages and the defendant demanded a jury trial on both claims. While plaintiff moved to strike the defendant's demand for jury trials, the defendant filed a Memorandum stating that he was not opposed to the denial of a jury trial to the extent the parties Consulting Agreement provided. The Court denied the requests for a jury trial on both claims. This Memorandum Order examines the law of jury trials under the Seventh Amendment and case law specific to the Third Circuit. The Court also examined the provisions of the Consulting Agreement between the parties for controlling provisions on jury waivers agreed to by the parties. That Agreement clearly carried a provision for jury waiver "conspicuously and plainly worded." Accordingly, the Court denied the defendant's request for trial by jury on the breach of contract claim. Similarly, the Court examined the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery in equity cases and whether the claim of aiding and abetting the breach of a fiduciary duty could be characterized as an equitable claim. The Court found that such cases are equitable in nature and had been historically adjudicated in courts of equity even if accompanied by requests for money damages. The Court, therefore, denied the defendant's request for a jury trial on this claim too. Authored by: Raj Srivatsan 302.888.6831 Share


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