Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cosgrove v. Bartolotta case brief

Cosgrove v. Bartolotta case brief summary
150 F.3d 729 (1998)

Plaintiff attorney sought review of a decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, granting defendant entrepreneur's motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) to alter or amend judgment after a jury awarded damages on plaintiff's claim of promissory estoppel. Defendant cross-appealed adverse jury verdicts for misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.

Plaintiff attorney challenged the district court's granting of defendant entrepreneur's motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) to alter or amend a jury verdict for plaintiff attorney on promissory estoppel. Plaintiff agreed to loan defendant start-up capital and provide defendant legal services to start a new restaurant. In exchange, defendant promised to give plaintiff an ownership interest. Defendant accepted plaintiff's legal advice but got a loan elsewhere and did not make plaintiff a part owner. A jury awarded plaintiff damages for promissory estoppel, which the district court set aside after judgment, misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.


  • On appeal, the court held that although defendant erred in moving for post-judgment relief under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e), rather than Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b), the district court 's order was reviewable. 
  • Plaintiff proved he relied to his detriment on defendant's promise to make him a part owner; thus, the district court erred in overturning the jury's verdict for promissory estoppel and in denying costs. 
  • The jury's verdicts on misrepresentation and unjust enrichment were proper. 
  • The court affirmed in part and reversed in pArticle

The court reversed the district court's order granting defendant entrepreneur's motion for post-trial relief from a jury judgment awarding plaintiff attorney damages for promissory estoppel because plaintiff detrimentally relied on defendant's oral promise to give plaintiff an ownership interest in a new venture in exchange for legal advice. The court affirmed the jury verdicts against defendant for misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.

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