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FRANK DIBONAVENTURA v. CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION (02/09/88)

submitted: February 9, 1988.

FRANK DIBONAVENTURA, APPELLANT,
v.
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION



Appeal from the Order Entered March 18, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Civil, No. 86-8310.

COUNSEL

Dennis J. Muir, Media, for appellant.

John R. Jenchura, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cirillo, President Judge, and Tamilia and Hester, JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 421]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County granting Consolidated Rail Corporation's (Conrail) motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

Frank DiBonaventura was an employee of Conrail from its inception in 1976 until he was terminated by the company on May 25, 1982. DiBonaventura had begun his employment in the railroad industry in 1946 working as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Upon the merger of

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 422]

    that company with New York Central, DiBonaventura continued as an employee of the Penn Central Transportation Company. Conrail acquired Penn Central's assets in 1976, and appellant continued as an employee there for the next six years. At the time of his discharge, he was employed as the assistant manager of a Conrail real estate office in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

In his complaint, DiBonaventura alleged that Conrail discharged him because he refused to agree to certain real estate sales in Washington, D.C., which involved selling property there for less than the highest bid made. Conrail contends that DiBonaventura was discharged for allowing H.J. Heintz, a representative of H.G. Heintz, Inc., a past buyer of Conrail property, to pay for repair work done to his house, and that such actions were grossly improper and violated the company's conflict of interest policies. DiBonaventura maintains that the contractor he used was recommended to him by Heintz but that he had no knowledge that Heintz had agreed to pay the contractor.

DiBonaventura brought suit against Conrail in federal court, alleging that he had entered into an implied contract of employment with Conrail, and had been wrongfully discharged. That action was dismissed without prejudice by the Honorable Edward N. Cahn for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and transferred to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. Conrail filed a motion for summary judgment; the court deferred disposition of that motion upon DiBonaventura's request for discovery. After discovery, DiBonaventura amended his complaint to include allegations concerning a written document entitled, "Management Performance Appraisal Agreement," and an accompanying manual. DiBonaventura argued to the trial court in a memorandum of law that these documents represented a contract of employment between himself and Conrail. On March 18, 1987, the Honorable Clement J. McGovern granted Conrail's motion for summary judgment. DiBonaventura filed a petition for reconsideration which the court denied. He then appealed to this court.

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 423]

DiBonaventura raises four arguments on appeal, all of which center around the question of whether or not an implied contract of employment existed between himself and Conrail. He argues firstly that the trial court failed to properly apply the standard of review in its grant of summary judgment. He then argues that the Management Performance Appraisal Agreement was an implied contract which would have removed him from the at-will presumption. Thirdly, he contends that contract terms of duration and just cause may be implied from the evidence presented. Lastly, he claims that a covenant of good faith and fair dealing may also be implied from the record and the ...


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