Izzo v. Freedom Graphics Systems, Inc.
ORDER denying 39 Motion for Reconsideration; denying the motion for costs included in 40 Objection filed by Freedom Graphics Systems, Inc. Signed by Judge Stefan R. Underhill on 9/20/2016. (Buttrick, A.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
No. 3:15-cv-602 (SRU)
FREEDOM GRAPHICS SYSTEMS, INC.,
RULING AND ORDER
On April 24, 2015, the plaintiff, Paul Izzo, filed a complaint against the defendant,
Freedom Graphic Systems, Inc. (“FGS”), alleging that FGS had breached its employment
contract with Izzo by failing to allow him to contact certain sales accounts and by failing to pay
rent on his office space. See Compl. (doc. 1); Am. Compl. (doc. 20). On December 15, 2015,
having converted FGS‟ motion to dismiss the complaint into a motion for summary judgment, I
held a hearing on that motion and granted summary judgment for FGS. (doc. 35) On January 12,
2016, Izzo filed a motion for reconsideration. (doc. 39)
The standard for granting motions for reconsideration is strict; motions for
reconsideration “will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling
decisions or data that the court overlooked—matters, in other words, that might reasonably be
expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d
255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). Motions for reconsideration will not be granted where the party merely
seeks to relitigate an issue that has already been decided. Id. The three major grounds for
granting a motion for reconsideration in the Second Circuit are: (1) an intervening change of
controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence, or (3) the need to correct a clear error or
prevent manifest injustice. Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd. v. Nat’l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245,
1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (citing 18 Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Edward H. Cooper,
Federal Practice & Procedure § 4478). Izzo has not met any of those grounds.
By an offer letter dated March 16, 2010 and executed the following day, FGS hired Izzo
to act as “Director of National Strategic Accounts.” Def.‟s Mot. to Dismiss Br., Ex. A; Am.
Compl., Ex. 1 [hereinafter “Agreement”].1 The agreement did not expressly state whether Izzo
was an at-will employee or had been hired for a particular term. It did, however, make provisions
for various termination scenarios: for instance, it stated that if Izzo was terminated for any reason
other than “Willful Misconduct” in the first six months, he would be entitled to six months of
severance payments, and if he was so terminated in the second six-month period, he would be
entitled to three months of severance payments. Id. at ¶ 1. If Izzo was terminated after twelve
months, he would not be entitled to receive any severance payments. Id.
Thus, according to the terms of the agreement, Izzo was an at-will employee of FGS—he
was hired for an indefinite term and “„[a]s a general rule, contracts of permanent employment, or
for an indefinite term, are terminable at will‟ in Connecticut.‟” Grunberg v. Quest Diagnostics,
Inc., No. CIV.A. 3:05-CV-1201V, 2008 WL 323940, at *10 (D. Conn. Feb. 5, 2008) (quoting
D'Ulisse–Cupo v. Board of Directors of Notre Dame High School, 520 A.2d 217 (Conn. 1987)).
And, as I observed in the December 15 hearing, when “the entire contract is terminable at will,
[the employer can] surely change its terms in accordance with the needs of the company without
breaching the agreement.” Bessemer Trust Co. v. Branin, 498 F. Supp. 2d 632, 637 (S.D.N.Y.
2007), aff’d, 618 F.3d 76 (2d Cir. 2010). Certainly, the employer can change an at-will
employee‟s responsibilities without breaching the agreement, even if it might not be able to
change its obligations to the employee.
There are different notations on those two versions of the contract. The notations do not appear to be at issue here,
so I will generally cite to the Defendant‟s version.
Izzo now apparently concedes that his employment contract was at-will, but argues that
the “Account Assignment Responsibilities” list, Agreement at ¶ 5 (the “Appendix”),2 effectively
constitutes an additional agreement ensuring that he could call on specified clients during the
entire term of his at-will employment. He further asserts that whether the Appendix constitutes
an additional contract is a question of fact that must be decided by a jury. But, as Izzo also
concedes in his brief, “where . . . there is clear and definitive contract language, the scope and
meaning of that language is not a question of fact but a question of law.” Antonino v. Johnson,
113 Conn. App. 72, 75 (2009) (alterations in original, citation omitted). In the present case,
neither the Agreement nor the Appendix contain ambiguous terms suggesting that the Appendix
was intended to provide additional protections to Izzo during the duration of his at-will
The Appendix does include an “approximate yearly spend” column that Izzo suggests
served as an inducement to take the position on the basis of a certain level of commissions. By
referring to the Appendix as a list of “Responsibilities” in both the Agreement and on the
Appendix itself, however, the Agreement makes clear that the Appendix listed obligations Izzo
was required to perform for the benefit of the FGS, rather than conferring a right or benefit on
Izzo. Moreover, the Appendix is conspicuously dated March 23, 2010, indicating that it was
subject to change.3
Exhibit 1 to the Amended Complaint includes that Appendix (doc. 20-1).
To the extent that Izzo is in fact asserting a wage claim for failure to pay contractually obligated commissions or a
fraudulent inducement claim, as FGS pointed out in its memorandum in support of its motion to dismiss, both of
those claims would be barred by the respective statute of limitations. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-596 (two-year
statute of limitations for wage claims); Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577 (three-year statute of limitations for tort claims,
including fraudulent inducement).
Thus, Izzo has failed to provide any binding authority or new evidence that would require
me to call into question my ruling on the motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, his
motion for reconsideration is denied. The defendant‟s request for costs (doc. 40) is also denied.
Dated at Bridgeport, Connecticut, this 20th day of September 2016.
/s/ STEFAN R. UNDERHILL
Stefan R. Underhill
United States District Judge
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