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Del Monaco v. Czech Asset Management, L.P.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 30, 2016

ROBERT A. DEL MONACO, Plaintiff,
v.
CZECH ASSET MANAGEMENT, LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, CZECH MANAGEMENT GP, LLC, AND STEPHEN J. CZECH, Defendants.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.

         I. Introduction

         Robert A. Del Monaco brings this suit against his former employer, Czech Asset Management, LP (“CAM”), a related entity, Czech Management GP, LLC (“GP”), and CAM's principal, Stephen J. Czech. Mr. Del Monaco claims that Defendants failed to deliver a promised bonus of $200, 000 for work performed in 2013, and brings claims of breach of contract against CAM and GP (Count One), promissory estoppel against CAM and GP (Count Two), and violation of Connecticut wage statutes against CAM, GP, and Mr. Czech (Counts Three and Four). Defendants now move for summary judgment on all counts, arguing among other things that Mr. Del Monaco became ineligible for a bonus when he gave notice of his resignation on June 1, 2014. (ECF No. 50.) For the reasons set forth below, the defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         II. Undisputed Facts

         The following facts are undisputed. Defendant CAM is an asset management company doing business in Connecticut, Defendant GP is CAM's general partner, and Defendant Stephen Czech is CAM's Managing Partner. (Defendant's Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement, ECF No. 52 (“Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt.”) ¶¶ 1-3; Plaintiff's Local Rule 56(a)2 Statement, ECF No. 54-10 (“Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt.”) ¶¶ 1-3. In January 2012, CAM hired plaintiff Robert Del Monaco to be its Chief Financial Officer, and he began work in March 2012. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt. ¶¶ 4-5; Pl.'s L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. ¶¶ 4-5.)

         A. Offer Letter and Employee Handbook

         Prior to beginning work at CAM, Mr. Del Monaco received and acknowledged both an offer letter and the CAM employee handbook. (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt ¶¶ 5, 8, 10; Pl's L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. ¶¶ 5, 8, 10.) Regarding 2012 compensation, the offer letter stated:

For calendar year 2012, your annualized Total Reward will consist of an annual base salary of $200, 000 paid in semi-monthly installments… and a discretionary cash bonus payable when year-end cash bonuses are paid to similar situated employees, and in no event later than March 15, 2013, both contingent upon satisfactory performance and conduct and that you remain employed through, and not give or receive notice of termination of your employment prior to, in each case, the applicable payment date.

(Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt ¶¶ 6; Pl's L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. ¶ 6; ECF No. 54-1 at 1.) The offer letter also required “sixty (60) days advance written notice of your Resignation” and provided that “during the Notice Period… [you] will continue to be paid your base salary…. However, you will not be eligible to receive any compensation other than base salary (i.e., a bonus) if you decide to leave CAM.” (Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt ¶ 6; Pl's L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. ¶ 6; ECF No. 54-1 at 2.) The offer letter also states that “this offer is contingent upon… your review and acknowledgment of the provisions of the CAM employee handbook.” (ECF No. 54-1 at 4.)

         The employee handbook provides further detail on bonus compensation at CAM, explaining that bonuses are discretionary and that employees are ineligible for bonuses if they are not in “good standing”:

Depending on business conditions and Firm performance, and an employee's individual performance and conduct… the Firm may pay a discretionary year-end bonus as incentive compensation to certain eligible employees. Even if eligible, an employee who is not deemed to be in good standing at the time such bonuses are paid, will not receive a bonus. The decision whether to pay a bonus, and if so how much, is at the sole discretion of the Managing Partner.

(Def.'s L.R. 56(a)1 Stmt ¶ 9; Pl's L.R. 56(a)2 Stmt. ¶¶ 9; ECF No. 54-2 at 5.) The handbook then goes on to define “good standing”:

An employee will not be deemed to be in good standing under this policy, as determined by the Firm in its sole discretion, if, among other things, he or she (i) is not, for any reason, an employee of the Firm at the time that bonuses are paid to similarly situated employees, (ii) has given or received notice of termination prior to the bonus payment date, (iii) is subject to a notice of termination requirement and has not complied with any applicable notice requirement or (iv) is deemed by the Firm in its discretion to not be in good standing because, for example, the employee is not meeting the Firm's performance and conduct ...

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