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LUBRECHT v. LAUREL STRIPPING COMPANY (12/29/56)

December 29, 1956

LUBRECHT
v.
LAUREL STRIPPING COMPANY, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 270, Jan. T., 1956, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Oct. T., 1948, No. 1347, in case of Donald Lubrecht v. Laurel Stripping Company. Judgment affirmed. Assumpsit. Before APONICK, J. Verdict for plaintiff; defendant's motions for new trial and judgment n.o.v. refused and judgment entered on the verdict. Defendant appealed.

COUNSEL

George I. Puhak, with him Andrew I. Puhak, for appellant.

Michael H. Sheridan, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 387 Pa. Page 394]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE JONES

This appeal grows out of an action in assumpsit instituted by the plaintiff against the defendant company, a Pennsylvania corporation, for the recovery of damages for the defendant's alleged breach of a written contract between the parties which called for the plaintiff's services in the capacity of general manager of all of the mining and stripping operations of the defendant company in respect of all contracts that the company then had or should thereafter acquire from the date of the employment contract whether such mining or stripping contracts were procured by the plaintiff or obtained by the defendant company. For the plaintiff's services in the premises the defendant promised to pay him at the rate of ten cents per long ton for each ton stripped or mined by the defendant company or its employees. The contract did not, however, provide for any definite term of employment.

In addition to the written contract of employment declared upon, the plaintiff in his amended complaint averred that, upon entering into the contract with the defendant on March 10, 1942, and in reliance on the defendant company's representation, the plaintiff surrendered his position as an assistant engineer for the City of Hazelton, gave up the engineering work he had

[ 387 Pa. Page 395]

    theretofore been performing as an assistant to a mining engineer, abandoned his development of a coal property for his own account and, on March 19, 1942, assumed the discharge of his duties under the contract of employment; that continuously until March 15, 1948, the defendant company, under the general managership of the plaintiff, had successfully operated a number of coal properties; that the defendant, without just or reasonable cause or fault on the plaintiff's part, had discharged him on March 15, 1948, from his position of general manager of the defendant's coal mining or stripping operations; and that, at the time of the plaintiff's discharge, the defendant was engaged in the operation of a large mining contract which it continued to operate subsequent to the plaintiff's discharge as the defendant's general manager. The plaintiff accordingly claimed damages of the defendant company, measured by the amount of moneys received by it from all coal stripped, mined and delivered for preparation under the contracts and leases operated by the defendant between the date of the alleged breach of the contract of employment and the date of the plaintiff's suit.

At trial, the plaintiff offered evidence in support of his amended complaint, and the defendant produced countervailing testimony. The case was submitted by the trial judge to the jury in a charge to which the defendant company took no material exception. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the sum of $7,141.85 with interest from May 31, 1951. The defendant moved for a new trial and also for judgment n.o.v. Both motions were refused by the court en banc, and judgment was entered on the verdict. The defendant brought this appeal.

The appellant charges that the trial judge erred in not holding that the contract ...


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