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MICHAEL I. HINELINE v. STROUDSBURG ELECTRIC SUPPLY COMPANY (05/30/89)

filed: May 30, 1989.

MICHAEL I. HINELINE, APPELLANT,
v.
STROUDSBURG ELECTRIC SUPPLY COMPANY, INC., AND STEPHEN F. SULLIVAN AND SIDNEY FRIEDMAN, APPELLEES



Appeal from Order entered December 18, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County, Civil, No. 1270 Civil 1987.

COUNSEL

John B. Dunn, Stroudsburg, for appellant.

Ronald P. Sweeda, Wilkes-Barre, for Stroudsburg, appellee.

Gerald J. Geiger, Stroudsburg, for Sullivan, appellee.

Cavanaugh, Olszewski and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Olszewski

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 538]

Appellant, Michael I. Hineline, appeals from an order of the trial court sustaining appellees' demurrers to four counts contained in appellant's complaint. This appeal presents the question of whether an at-will employee has raised a cognizable claim for wrongful discharge when he was discharged for dismantling his employer's allegedly illegal video camera with audio capabilities. We affirm.

From October 1, 1977, to December 17, 1986, appellant was employed by appellee Stroudsburg Electric Supply Company, Inc. (hereinafter "Stroudsburg Electric"). Stroudsburg Electric operated four video cameras with audio capabilities to monitor the activities in its place of business. On December 17, 1986, appellant disconnected the cameras and was subsequently fired as a result by appellee Stephen F. Sullivan (hereinafter "Sullivan"), president of Stroudsburg Electric.

On June 18, 1987, appellant filed suit against appellees. Appellant's complaint consisted of six counts, summarized as follows: (I) wrongful discharge vs. Stroudsburg Electric and Sullivan; (II) intentional interference with contractual relationship by Sullivan; (III) breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing by Stroudsburg Electric; (IV) punitive damages vs. Stroudsburg Electric and Sullivan; (V) and (VI) breach of fiduciary duty by Stroudsburg Electric and Sidney Friedman as trustees of appellant's pension plan. Preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer were filed by Sullivan on July 13, 1987. The trial court, on

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 539]

December 18, 1987, dismissed Counts I, II, and IV and ordered appellant to plead more specifically as to Count III.

Appellant appealed the trial court's decision to this Court on December 29, 1987. Following argument on June 9, 1988, this Court, on September 7, 1988, entered an order quashing the appeal as interlocutory on the ground that because the trial court permitted appellant to amend Count III of his complaint, his cause of action for breach of contract remained intact and, therefore, appellant was not out of court. "Thus, it is apparent that the order dismissing appellant's causes of action for wrongful discharge and intentional interference with contractual relation is interlocutory and, therefore, not appealable as of right." Hineline v. Stroudsburg Electric Supply Co., No. 42 Philadelphia 1988 (filed September 7, 1988), memorandum at 4, 383 Pa. Super. 671, 550 A.2d 254 (table).

On October 7, 1988, appellant filed a praecipe to withdraw the breach of contract count of the complaint with prejudice. On November 2, 1988, ...


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