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HARBRIDGE v. GREYHOUND LINES

January 14, 1969

Clifford E. HARBRIDGE
v.
GREYHOUND LINES, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD, JR.

 JOHN W. LORD, Jr., District Judge.

 This is an action for damages resulting from an alleged slander of the plaintiff, Clifford E. Harbridge, by his former employer, defendant Greyhound Lines, Inc.

 Plaintiff's complaint is in three parts:

 (1) He claims general and special damages caused to him by the alleged publication of oral defamatory accusations in the presence of third parties in 1964;

 (2) demand for unpaid wages due plaintiff from the date of the first alleged slander to the date of his discharge from employment by the defendant-employer; as well as three weeks' unpaid vacation salary; and

 (3) funds due him under a company retirement plan.

 Defendant, Greyhound, has asserted a counterclaim for damages arising out of a shortage of funds in a change fund in the custody of plaintiff.

 The Court makes the following

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. For a period of approximately 7 months prior to April 8, 1964, the plaintiff was the terminal manager of defendant's terminal located at 17th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, in the City and County of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (N.T. p. 22).

 2. Prior to becoming terminal manager, he had been designated as a regular dispatcher in New York City, then he was made a full-time dispatcher and supervisor at the Philadelphia terminal, and in the latter part of 1962, he was designated as chief dispatcher and assistant superintendent of the Philadelphia terminal (N.T. p. 21).

 4. Upon the appointment of plaintiff as terminal manager, Mr. Hill returned to his prior position as assistant terminal manager (N.T. p. 23).

 5. Richard Weller at said time was also an assistant terminal manager (N.T. p. 23).

 6. At the date of plaintiff's appointment as terminal manager, Mr. Newsom was superintendent of the Philadelphia terminal and the plaintiff's immediate superior officer (N.T. p. 21).

 7. Mr. Newsom resigned and Mr. Ivins then became the superintendent of the Philadelphia terminal at the time of plaintiff's continuing position as terminal manager (N.T. p. 23).

 8. Mr. Ivins, as superintendent of the Philadelphia terminal, was plaintiff's immediate superior (N.T. p. 24).

 9. The superintendent of the Philadelphia terminal had charge of the drivers, all other supervisory personnel connected with operations, the maintenance of the department in Philadelphia, and the terminal operation (N.T. p. 24).

 10. As part of plaintiff's duties, he was in charge of what is titled the change fund. This was a fund placed in the custody of the terminal manager for the purpose of running the terminal, making change available to the ticket agents, to the baggage clerks and express clerks. It consisted in the main of changing bills into quarters, dimes and nickels, so that at all times the agents would have change funds in their respective tills (N.T. p. 24).

 11. Upon plaintiff's appointment as terminal manager, he received from Mr. Newsom, the superintendent, a set of keys who at said time advised him that similar sets were held by Messrs. Jay Hill and Richard Weller, as well as Andrew Mager, Paul Petak, the assistant terminal managers, as well as the superintendent, and that such had been the prior custom. The change fund was kept within a safe consisting of a series of locked cabinets or drawers; which change fund was kept in 4 boxes of said safe each requiring a key (N.T. p. 29).

 12. Plaintiff made audits, weekly and bi-monthly (N.T. p. 30).

 13. The agents had their own boxes in said safe to which they maintained their own key and of which there were 13 boxes, all contained in the same safe (N.T. p. 34).

 14. On a regular basis, plaintiff audited the respective boxes of the ticket sellers and baggage clerks, and that when same was done, it was in the presence of the ticket agent (N.T. p. 35).

 15. On plaintiff's appointment as terminal manager, he signed a custody receipt for the monies then making up the so-called change fund (N.T. p. 41).

 16. Although the dial on the safe was broken, they were obliged to keep the door of the safe open so that the various assistant terminal managers would have access to the change fund (N.T. pp. 44-45).

 17. On March 24, 1964, plaintiff attended a baggage meeting being held in New York City and returned to the terminal that same evening (N.T. pp. 48-49), returning to the terminal to pick up his car.

 18. Edgar Bosley was assistant regional manager of the New York office which took in the Philadelphia terminal (N.T. p. 51).

 19. Company auditors were on the premises the 24th and 25th of March, 1964, and said auditors were out of the Cleveland office (N.T. p. 53).

 20. On March 26th, plaintiff was told by Messrs. Jay Hill and Richard Weller that the auditors had found a shortage in ...


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