does defendant contend that any payments made during the illness of the plaintiff were in the nature of severance pay.
Since this is a unilateral contract and the requirement ordinarily stated for the sufficiency of consideration to support a promise is, in substance, a detriment incurred by the promisee or a benefit received by the promisor at the request of the promisor, (see Williston on Contracts, Volume I, Sections 13 and 102) we must view this case in light of these standards. Defendant, as set forth before, argues that any payment made was gratuitous rather than consistent with the theory of an employee and employer relationship. Defendant has offered no testimony in this case and we must, therefore, take the record and judge it from what we have found to be the credible evidence adduced by the plaintiff. Rather than these payments being gratuities as argued by the defendant, it is much more likely that defendant's interests were best served by keeping the old employees of the Jayne corporation on the payroll and not disturbing the existing employer-employee relationship during the few months that it intended and actually did keep the Jayne branch in operation. It is also extremely likely that plaintiff's return to work, should he recover from his illness, would be of extreme value to the defendant because of his intimate knowledge of the financial and accounting position of the Jayne corporation. Viewed in either light, such payments would not in any wise be gratuities but rather would be something done for the benefit of the defendant. There is no difficulty, therefore, in concluding that the standards of consideration required to support a unilateral contract have been met in the plaintiff's case in chief.
Defendant in its brief has cited a Pennsylvania case and the Restatement of Contracts in support of its contention that there was a failure of consideration in that Bullock never performed any services for Sterling and therefore could not enforce the provisions of the severance pay schedule. With this position I cannot agree for several reasons. First, because I am convinced that Sterling was in actual control and active management of the Jayne operation after the stock acquisition in January and that Bullock did perform services for Sterling. Second, because, as I have stated before, the evidence is more consistent with a finding that Sterling was bargaining for inaction on Bullock's part when he was ill than it is with a finding that Sterling was making gratuitous payments to Bullock. The cited situations are not apposite. In the case of Hetkowski v. Dickson City School District, 1940, 141 Pa.Super. 526, 15 A.2d 470, plaintiff by her own misconduct had rendered herself incapable of performing her services for part of the period of the employment contract. She brought suit for salary for the balance of the unexpired term of the contract. It was held that she was not entitled to recover because she was unable to perform her part of the contract and especially so since it was her own wrongdoing which rendered her incapable of performing.
In the Restatement illustration, Section 275, the situation dealt with was a contract of employment for a definite period of time and because of ill health the employee was unable to perform. The Restatement states that there is no duty on the part of the employer to retain him for the balance of the term. I agree with those results wholeheartedly but they have no application here. The plaintiff is not seeking to assert a right to continue his employment despite his incapacity, as was the case of the cited illustrations, rather he is seeking to assert a right arising out of the employment which he contends did continue, even if only at the sufferance of the defendant.
I conclude from all the facts that plaintiff was an employee of the defendant at the time of his separation, that under the express policy and offer of the company he was entitled to seniority from the time of his first employment with the business of Dr. D. Jayne and Son in 1919, that his term of employment for such calculation is 28 years, and that he is entitled to the maximum of 6 months pay at the rate of $ 600 per month.
One other question must be determined and that is when interest on the award should start. It appears to me that defendant was entitled to a reasonable time within which to make the payment and I find that a period of 31 days was a reasonable time within which to make the payment. Accordingly, interest shall be allowed from November 1, 1947.
Conclusions of Law.
1. The severance pay schedule published by the defendant on June 20, 1946, and circulated among the employees of the Jayne company early in 1947 was an offer of a unilateral contract.
2. The plaintiff accepted said offer of a unilateral contract by remaining in the employ of the defendant.
3. The acceptance created a contract which entitled plaintiff to payments according to the terms of the severance pay schedule.
4. Plaintiff is entitled to 6 months pay by reason of his having been employed by the defendant and its acquired company for over twenty-five years.
5. No offer of severance pay was made to the employees of Ladox Laboratories, Inc.
6. The plaintiff is not entitled to any sums of money as severance pay as a result of his employment by the Ladox Laboratories, Inc.
7. Judgment is entered for the plaintiff in the amount of $ 3,600, with interest from November 1, 1947.
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