Monday, November 30, 2009
Claim alleging “detrimental reliance” on agreement with employer underlying tendering employee’s resignation dismissed
Boakye-Yiadom v Roosevelt Union Free School Dist., 2007 NY Slip Op 52657(U), decided on April 18, 2007, Supreme Court, Nassau County, Justice Daniel Palmieri
Kwame Boakye-Yiadom, the former Assistant Superintendent for Business for the Roosevelt Union Free School District ("District"), sued the District alleging breach of contract and "detrimental reliance" in tendering his resignation. Boakye-Yiadom also alleged that the District defamed him.
As to Boakye-Yiadom’s claim for breach of contract, he contended that he was entitled to payment for unused vacation and sick leave credits. His defamation claim alleged that the District's Superintendent, Ronald O. Ross, accused him of having embezzled District funds, constituting “slander per se.”
Boakye-Yiadom’s employment contract with the District, in relevant part, provided that vacation time would be earned at a stated rate, but that “Vacation days have NO cash value and may NOT be carried over into subsequent school years.” As to Boakye-Yiadom claims regarding sick leave, the employment contract, in relevant part, provided that payment for unused sick time may be made only to those individuals who "have at least 20 years of service with the district." Boakye-Yiadom did not claim he had at least “20 years of service” with the district and Justice Palmieri noted Boakye-Yiadom’s employment contract began in 2001, some five years before the events that led to this law suit.
In addition, Boakye-Yiadom claimed that he and Ross “entered into an agreement” that he would resign his position with the District, contingent upon payment of certain sums for unused vacation and sick days. However, in response to a letter Boakye-Yiadom sent to Ross “memorializing the alleged verbal agreement,” Ross stated that the School Board had accepted his resignation and agreed to the payment of accumulated sick and vacation days "to the extent such payments are approved by the State Education Department, as required by law."
The Department of Education did not approve the severance payment to which the Board had agreed and Ross was advised that authorization to pay the severance to the Boakye-Yiadom was denied.
Justice Palmieri said that this was a sufficient basis for dismissal of Boakye-Yiadom claims regarding the alleged breach of contract.
As to Boakye-Yiadom claim “sounding in defamation,” Justice Palmieri said that the claim “must be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.” While Boakye-Yiadom’s petition alleges that Ross falsely accused him "to others" of embezzling $2.5 million, it did not name “the person or persons to whom the words were uttered, nor the time, place and manner of this statement, rendering the cause of action fatally deficient under CPLR 3016(a).”
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