The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER
Defendant's motion for summary judgment, as supplemented, is GRANTED in accordance with the foregoing opinion. The Clerk is directed to mark the case CLOSED
SO ORDERED this 24th day of February 1986.
This case involving the termination of plaintiff's employment has a considerable history. One of our rulings on jurisdiction has been taken to the court of appeals. Trial on parallel claims in state court was completed in March 1985 and an appeal from that action has been decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Before us in this suit is defendant's motion for summary judgment which has twice been supplemented following state court decisions. We are satisfied that counsel have unearthed and presented all the relevant facts throughout the parallel action and the prior proceedings in this case and that no genuine factual issues exist. The questions of law are now ripe for determination under Rule 56.
In January 1984, plaintiff filed this suit against two corporations and two individuals: Exxon Research and Engineering Company ("Exxon"), his former employer; A.W. Hanggeli, a supervisor at Exxon; International Colombia Resources Corporation ("Intercor"), a Delaware corporation doing business with Exxon; and Gustavo Arias, a Colombian citizen working in Boise, Idaho. We dismissed Intercor and Hanggeli on July 19, 1984 for lack of personal jurisdiction.
Since there is no proof that Arias has ever been served, plaintiff is left with four counts from his original complaint involving Exxon. These counts are based on theories of wrongful discharge, defamation, interference with contractual relations, and misrepresentation.
Michelson filed a parallel suit for defamation in the Warren County Court of Common Pleas in January 1984 against one of his coworkers, James P. Kelly. Kelly authored a memorandum regarding plaintiff's job performance which lies at the heart of this dispute. That suit was tried in March 1985 and resulted in a verdict for Michelson. Kelly subsequently moved for a judgment n.o.v., however, and was successful.
Exxon hired Michelson in 1976 as a materials inspector. In November 1982 he was assigned to conduct an inspection of locomotives at the General Electric plant in Erie, Pennsylvania. The locomotives were intended for use in a coal mining project in Colombia. Also present at the inspection was Gustavo Arias, an employee of Carbocol, an affiliate of the Colombian government which was a joint venturer in the project; two Exxon inspection trainees; and various other officials of Exxon, General Electric, and the joint venturers. On December 6, 1982, Kelly received a call from a fellow employee regarding complaints about Michelson's performance at the inspection. Upon speaking to Gustavo Arias, the complaining party, directly, Kelly was told some of the details of what allegedly had transpired during the November 1982 inspection. Kelly composed a one page memo summarizing the conversations.
The memo stated that Arias criticized plaintiff for his lack of knowledge about locomotives, his attention to minor details rather than the substance of the testing, and his "arrogant attitude." Kelly also noted that, not being present, he could not verify the accuracy of Arias' statements. Kelly addressed the memo to Arthur W. Hanggeli, his immediate supervisor, and distributed copies to Hanggeli's supervisor, C. M. Stewart, R. Herkt, another of Kelly's superiors, and Daniel Dankos, Michelson's immediate supervisor.
Hanggeli pursued the matter by sending a copy of the memo to Michelson, who was out on sick leave, on February 8, 1983, and requesting a reply. Copies of this communication were sent to Dankos, and Hanggeli's own supervisors, John W. Leibold and Richard E. Willard.
Plaintiff did submit a reply.
While arguments about the status of this memo have been the focus of this case, plaintiff's other claims stem from his job termination in September 1983. In early 1983 Exxon decided to reduce the number of its employees allegedly because of a decline in business. Plaintiff argues that actually he was terminated in retaliation for filing workmen's compensation claims. He also has invoked the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., although inadequately. Exxon responds that Michelson was discharged because of his low performance rating.
THE PARALLEL STATE PROCEEDINGS
Plaintiff sued J.P. Kelly in Warren County on three theories: misrepresentation, intentional interference with contractual relations, and defamation. Plaintiff withdrew the misrepresentation claim prior to trial. The trial court directed a verdict in favor of Kelly on the count of intentional interference with contractual relations. Plaintiff later moved for a new trial based on this ruling, but his motion was denied.