Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

RUPINSKY v. MILLER BREWING CO.

January 16, 1986

GEORGE RUPINSKY, Plaintiff,
v.
MILLER BREWING COMPANY, subsidiary of Philip Morris, Inc., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

This case is before us on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. The basis of the motion is that Plaintiff has no cause of action against Defendant arising out of his termination because he was an at-will employee, and, that consequently, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim against Defendant for which relief can be granted. After careful consideration of the briefs filed and the relevant law, we will grant Defendant's motion.

 Facts and Procedural History

 Plaintiff, George Rupinsky, is a citizen of Ohio. Defendant, Miller Brewing Co., a Wisconsin corporation with its principal place of business in Wisconsin, is a subsidiary of Philip Morris, Inc., a Virginia corporation, with its principal place of business in New York. Therefore, diversity of citizenship is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441.

 On February 19, 1978, while he was employed by Pepsi-Cola Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Plaintiff read an employment opportunity advertisement in the Pittsburgh Press which was placed by the Defendant, Miller Brewing Company. Plaintiff responded by sending a letter and resume to Miller, expressing his interest in working for Miller. Rupinsky Dep., pp. 8-9. Shortly thereafter, Miller telephoned Plaintiff, conducted a preliminary interview over the phone, and arranged for Plaintiff to interview at its plant in Eden, North Carolina, completely at Miller's expense. Id. at 9-10.

 Upon arriving at the Miller Brewing Company facility, Plaintiff went through four separate interviews and signed an employment application. Id. at 13. Included in said application was a paragraph which stated that "these agreements do not, of course, bind either party to any specific period of employment." Id. at 19-20, 31; Dep. Ex. 2.

 Following his interviews, by letter dated March 24, 1978, Plaintiff was formally offered a position with Miller Brewing Co. at its Eden, North Carolina facility as an inventory systems coordinator. Dep. Ex. 3. Plaintiff accepted this offer in a letter dated March 27, 1978. Dep. Ex. 4. Defendant paid for all of Plaintiff's relocation expenses in order for him to begin work in Eden on April 10, 1978.

 Plaintiff worked at Miller for two-and-one-half years; first as an inventory systems coordinator, and was later promoted to warehouse supervisor. Dep., pp. 40-41. However, Plaintiff received a below average performance appraisal in this new position in June of 1980. Id. at 49-50; Dep. Ex. 6. Six months later, on December 10, 1980, Plaintiff was discharged from Miller. Dep., pp. 52-53.

 In this wrongful discharge action, Plaintiff is seeking to recover damages for the termination of his employment by Miller Brewing Company. Plaintiff's complaint, which sounds in tort and contract, was initially filed in state court and then removed to this court by the Defendant pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. At the outset, we must determine which forum's law governs the instant case. Plaintiff argues that the law of Pennsylvania is controlling while Defendant argues that the law of North Carolina is applicable.

 As a federal court sitting in a diversity case, we are bound by the choice of law rules of the state in which we sit. Klaxon v. Stentor Electric Mfg. Co., Inc., 313 U.S. 487, 61 S. Ct. 1020, 85 L. Ed. 1477 (1941); McGowan v. University of Scranton, 759 F.2d 287, 290 (3d Cir. 1985); DuSesoi v. United Refining Co., 540 F. Supp. 1260, 1268 (W.D. Pa. 1982) (wrongful discharge action). Therefore, in the present case, Pennsylvania's choice of law rules will apply to the issues raised by this motion.

 Traditionally, Pennsylvania's choice of law rule was to apply the law of the jurisdiction where the injury or harm occurred. However, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc., 416 Pa 1, 203 A.2d 796 (1964), abandoned this strict lex loci delicti rule in favor of a more flexible, hybrid analysis of the policies and contacts of the various concerned jurisdictions. In Griffith, an airplane crashed in Colorado killing the decedent, a Pennsylvania domiciliary. The court refused to automatically apply the law of the place where the accident occurred, but instead analyzed the policies and interests underlying the particular issue before it. Id. at 21, 203 A.2d at 805.

 
When doing this, it must be remembered that a mere counting of contacts is not what is involved. The weight of a particular state's contacts must be measured on a qualitative rather than a quantitative scale.

 In re Estate of Agostini, 311 Pa. Super. 233, 252, 457 A.2d 861, 871 (1983). See also Cipolla v. Shaposka, 439 Pa. 563, 267 A.2d 854 (1970); Miller v. Gay, 323 Pa. Super. 466, 470 A.2d 1353 (1983).

 Moreover, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has interpreted Griffith as adopting a "flexible methodology entailing analysis of the policies and contacts of the various concerned jurisdictions." Melville v. American Home Assur. Co., 584 F.2d 1306, 1311 (3d Cir. 1978). "This approach takes into account the contacts establishing significant relationships and the interests and policies that may be asserted by each jurisdiction." Moser v. Bostitch Division of Textron, Inc., 609 F. Supp. 917, 920 (W.D. Pa. 1985).

 The flexible approach to choice of law issues, adopted by Griffith in tort actions, has subsequently been applied to breach of contract cases as well. DuSesoi v. United Refining Co., 540 F. Supp. at 1269. Citing the Restatement (Second), Conflict of Laws § 188, this court in DuSesoi reasoned that:

 
In examining the contact that a jurisdiction has with a transaction one looks to a number of factors including: the place of contracting; the place of negotiation of the contract; the place of performance of the contract; the location of the subject matter of the contract; and the domicile or residence of the parties to the transaction.

 Id.

 Summary Judgment

 Defendant files this Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the uncontroverted facts and the applicable law preclude recovery on either of Plaintiff's counts since he was an at-will employee. When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, must determine if there are any genuine issues of material facts. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Meyer v. Riegel Products Corp., 720 F.2d 303 (3d Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 465 U.S. 1091, 104 S. Ct. 2144, 79 L. Ed. 2d 910 (1984); Betz Laboratories, Inc. v. Hines, 647 F.2d 402 (3d Cir. 1981). The moving party has the burden of proving that no genuine issue exists. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142, 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1969); Butz v. Hertz Corp., 554 F. Supp. 1178, 1181 (W.D. Pa. 1983). Any doubts must be resolved in favor of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.