Zalitis
v.
Circus World Toy Stores, Inc.

Not overruled or negatively treated on appealinfoCoverage
Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Second DepartmentNov 22, 1993
198 A.D.2d 411 (N.Y. App. Div. 1993)
198 A.D.2d 411603 N.Y.S.2d 897

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November 22, 1993

Appeal from the Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Underwood, J.).


Ordered that the order is reversed insofar as appealed from, on the law, with costs, the motion for partial summary judgment on the plaintiff's cause of action to recover damages for breach of an employment contract is granted, that cause of action is severed, and the matter is remitted to the Supreme Court, Suffolk County, for entry of a judgment in the plaintiff's favor in the principal sum of $47,500.

The plaintiff was hired by the defendants as Vice President of Finance at a salary of $95,000 per year. The employment agreement contained a provision guaranteeing the plaintiff a "six month salary continuation for termination other than cause". The defendants concede that the plaintiff's employment was terminated and do not claim that the termination was for cause. The "[i]nterpretation of an unambiguous contract provision is a function for the court, and matters extrinsic to the agreement may not be considered when the intent of the parties can be gleaned from the face of the instrument" (Teitelbaum Holdings v Gold, 48 N.Y.2d 51, 56; Chimart Assocs. v Paul, 66 N.Y.2d 570, 572-573). The defendants' contention that an unwritten general company policy restricted salary continuation to former employees who were unemployed for the six months immediately following the termination of their employment can only be proved by extrinsic evidence. Since extrinsic evidence is inadmissible to create an ambiguity in a written document which is complete and unambiguous upon its face (see, W.W.W. Assocs. v Giancontieri, 77 N.Y.2d 157, 163), partial summary judgment is appropriate. Thompson, J.P., Sullivan, Rosenblatt and Ritter, JJ., concur.