10, 1986, that Dr. Kaczor was contacted again by Linda Byers.
Parenthetically, we note Linda Byers' unrefuted testimony which
indicates that Mrs. Calvert had a doctor's appointment sometime
between April 28, 1986 and prior to her admission to Mercy
Byers' deposition testimony revealed that on June 10, 1986,
Mrs. Calvert complained of shortness of breath and that she had
had a bad night. Byers observed that Mrs. Calvert's legs and
feet were edematous with pitting edema and that her condition
was measurably worse than the previous day. Byers contacted Dr.
Kaczor's office who, in turn, instructed Byers to take Mrs.
Calvert to the Emergency Room for an x-ray to be read
immediately. Byers transported Mrs. Calvert to Mercy Hospital
via her own car.
Linda Byers and Mrs. Calvert arrived at the hospital emergency
room where Mrs. Calvert underwent blood work, x-rays and an
electrocardiagram. Linda Byers departed the hospital without
Mrs. Calvert. Hospital personnel advised Byers they would
contact her regarding whether or not they intended to admit
Mrs. Calvert for further treatment.
At 3:30 that afternoon, Linda Byers was called by the hospital
and told that Mrs. Calvert was admitted with congestive heart
symptoms as opposed to congestive heart failure. Mrs. Calvert
was then taken to the Coronary Care Unit for observation. On
June 20, 1986, Mrs. Calvert was discharged from the hospital
and returned to Chateau Hill.
Following her days off, plaintiff reported to work on June 15,
1986. At this time, plaintiff encountered Betty Calvert, Mrs.
Calvert's daughter-in-law, and plaintiff asked about Mrs.
Calvert's condition. Arthur Calvert, Jr. advised plaintiff that
his mother had been admitted to Mercy Hospital. He also asked
plaintiff why her symptoms were not recognized earlier and why
treatment had not been timely provided. Plaintiff responded
that she had noticed these problems in the past and reported
them to her supervisor, Linda Byers, and that it was up to
Byers to take some action. She then referred the Calverts to
On June 16, 1986, a staff meeting was held at Hillview Chateau
which was attended by plaintiff. At this meeting, plaintiff
again raised her concerns about pre-pouring medications and the
handling of Mrs. Calvert's case.
On June 18, 1986, plaintiff was presented with an Employee
Memorandum containing a list of purported work deficiencies.
Defendant informed plaintiff that in order for plaintiff to
remain in defendant's employ, she needed to correct these
Plaintiff did not agree with her employer's assessment of these
deficiencies and requested a meeting and the opportunity to
call witnesses in order to defend herself against defendant's
criticisms. No such meeting was held and on June 16, 1986,
plaintiff was discharged from the defendant's employ.
STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Defendant has moved this Court to grant Summary judgment
summary in its favor pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure.*fn4 In interpreting this Rule, the
United States Supreme Court in Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) has ruled that:
"The plain language . . . mandates entry of summary judgment,
after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a
party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on
which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In
such a situation, there can be `no genuine issue as to any
material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an
essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily
renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322
to 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552 to 2553.
An issue of material fact is "genuine" only if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Incorporated,
477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
With these principles as our guide, we now turn to the merits
of defendant's Motion.
CAUSE OF ACTION FOR WRONGFUL DISCHARGE
Plaintiff's claims require an analysis of Pennsylvania law
regarding the rights of an at-will employee under two
exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine. Because the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not taken a definitive position
on either of claims raised herein, we are required to predict
that Court's resolution of this dispute. Robertson v. Allied
Signal, Inc., 914 F.2d 360, 364 (3d Cir. 1990).
Our review of the plaintiff's claims vis-a-vis two exceptions
to the unqualified right of an employer to dismiss an employee
at-will necessarily begins with the teachings of the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Geary v. United States Steel
Corp., 456 Pa. 171, 319 A.2d 174 (1974).
George B. Geary, a salesman of tubular products used in the oil
and gas industry, came to the conclusion that one of his
company's products had been inadequately tested and constituted
a serious danger to anyone who used it. Following his
unsuccessful attempt to get his immediate supervisors to act on
this problem, he pressed the matter to the vice-president in
charge of the product line. The result of his efforts were
twofold; the product was withdrawn from the market and Geary
lost his job.
The Geary Court did not conclude that Geary's dismissal was
contrary to public policy. In reaching its determination, the
Court focused upon two factors; (1) Geary was not responsible
for making judgments about product safety, and (2) Geary did
not have expertise in that area.
However, the Geary Court did recognize, albeit in dicta, a
common law restriction on an employer's power to discharge an
at-will employee on public policy grounds when it opined:
"It may be granted that there are areas of an employee's life
in which his employer has no legitimate interest. An intrusion
into one of these areas by virtue of the employer's power of
discharge might plausibly give rise to a cause of action,
particularly where some recognized facet of public policy is
threatened . . . . [However, we] hold only that where the
Complaint itself discloses a plausible and legitimate reason
for terminating an at-will employment relationship and no clear
mandate of public policy is violated thereby, an employee at
will has no right of
action against his employer for wrongful discharge."
Id. 319 A.2d at 180.