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BRIECK v. HARBISON-WALKER REFRACTORIES

December 19, 1985

EUGENE F. BRIECK and DOLORES F. BRIECK
v.
HARBISON-WALKER REFRACTORIES, a division of Dresser Industries



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

 ORDER

 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and the case is DISMISSED.

 SO ORDERED this of 19th day of December, 1985.

 Plaintiffs bring this action against Mr. Brieck's former employer alleging age discrimination, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress as to Mr. Brieck, and negligent infliction of emotional distress as to Mrs. Brieck. We have before us defendant's motion for summary judgment, accompanied by affidavits and excerpts from depositions, and plaintiffs' response similarly supported. In reviewing these materials we find no dispute as to relevant facts. We must now decide whether these facts adequately support the causes of action pleaded.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Defendant sells and installs refractory brick and related materials to producers of steel, glass and paper. Sixty percent of its market lies with the steel industry, however, and defendant asserts that its own financial success is closely linked to the fortunes of domestic steelmakers. Defendant has stated that, between 1979 and 1982, sales of refractory materials fell from $425,000,000 to $302,000,000 and profits in the same period dropped from $64,000,000 to a loss of $20,000,000.

 Defendant hired Mr. Brieck in June 1965 as an installation specialist. His primary duties consisted of supervising installation of refractory materials in steel making furnaces, training the customer's employees in operation and maintenance, and troubleshooting to resolve any complaints. Brieck was one of four installation specialists attached to the Iron and Steel Marketing Support Group. The others were W.E. Meixell, A.G. Malarich, and H.J. Faust.

 As a result of poor sales in early 1982, management decided to cut expenses by laying off workers. Mr. Brieck was one of six workers in the Iron and Steel Marking Support Group to be laid off in early July 1982. Of these six, two were installation specialists: Brieck, age 55, and Meixell, age 59. In late July 1982, Malarich, then age 59, also was laid off. In mid-November 1982, Faust then age 39, the last remaining installation specialist, also was laid off. Faust was the only installation specialist to be recalled, in July 1983. Mr. Brieck argues that his layoff and Faust's recall constitutes age discrimination.

 Mr. Brieck also argues that defendant has breached an implied contract of employment in laying him off. Brieck apparently relies on four statements from management as establishing his implied contract. First, Brieck stated in his deposition that Larry Sheatsley, one of his supervisors, told him in August 1980 and February 1982 not to worry about being laid off. Plaintiffs' Supplemental Brief, Docket Entry No. 20, Appendix at 20 and 21. Second, in the Spring 1982 edition of a company newsletter a vice-president of human resources stated that:

 
Layoffs are implemented only after an extensive review of alternatives. Obviously, layoffs, when they are necessary, occur in departments or operating units most affected by the business decline. Length of company service and skill requirements necessary to carry out the reduced business activities are the most important considerations. We try to do what is right and fair.

 Id. at 26-27.

 Finally, Brieck received a note from Donald Jamison, another supervisor, commending him and stating that, "We hope that we can continue to reward you for your fine work." Id. at 38.

 Plaintiffs made no arguments in their briefs regarding their claims for tortious infliction of emotional distress. We will address ...


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