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WALSH v. ALARM SECURITY GROUP

October 22, 2002

RAYMOND J. WALSH
V.
ALARM SECURITY GROUP, INC., ROBERT GAUCHER AND DONALD M. YOUNG.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Curtis Joyner, United States District Judge

  MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This case is now before the Court for disposition of the defendants' motions for summary judgment as to all of Plaintiff's claims against them. For the reasons which follow, the motions shall be granted in part and denied in part.

Statement of Facts

On or about October 27, 1999, Raymond Walsh accepted an offer of employment from Donald Young, the Vice President of Operations for Alarm Security Group, Inc. ("ASG") to become the general manager of an office which ASG intended to open in Philadelphia. At the time that Mr. Walsh accepted this offer, he was employed as a general branch manager for Security Link in San Bruno, California. In the offer letter which Plaintiff signed, it was "assumed" that his start date would be "approximately January, 1, 2000," and his earnings were "guaranteed to be $100,000 payable in bi-weekly increments." The day after he received this written offer letter, Plaintiff tendered his resignation to Security Link and subsequently left this position on November 4, 1999. Later that same month, Plaintiff relocated from California to Philadelphia.*fn1

In the first week of January, 2000, Plaintiff telephoned Defendant Young to present himself for work. At that time and over the course of the next several months, however, Plaintiff was told that his start date would be delayed. Eventually, in July, 2000, Plaintiff was informed that ASG would not be opening a Philadelphia office and hence he did not have a job. Mr. Walsh thereafter instituted this lawsuit alleging breach of contract, fraud, negligent employment, promissory estoppel and violations of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act, 43 P.S. § 260.1, et. seq.

While they do not dispute that they offered and Mr. Walsh accepted the position of general manager of the Philadelphia office, Defendants contend that at all times their employment offer was contingent upon ASG acquiring enough companies with existing business to open a branch in the Philadelphia area. Insofar as that never occurred, Defendants assert that a necessary condition precedent was never satisfied and thus they are not liable to Mr. Walsh.

Standards Governing Motions for Summary Judgment

It is recognized that the underlying purpose of summary judgment is to avoid a pointless trial in cases where it is unnecessary and would only cause delay and expense. Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 97 S.Ct. 732, 50 L.Ed.2d 748 (1977). Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), summary judgment is properly rendered:

". . . if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment, interlocutory in character, may be rendered on the issue of liability alone although there is a genuine issue as to the amount of damages.

Stated more succinctly, summary judgment is appropriate only when it is demonstrated that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, all facts must be viewed and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L.Ed.2d 538, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986); Oritani Savings & Loan Association v. Fidelity & Deposit Company of Maryland, 989 F.2d 635, 638 (3rd Cir. 1993); Troy Chemical Corp. v. Teamsters Union Local No. 408, 37 F.3d 123, 125-126 (3rd Cir. 1994); Arnold Pontiac-GMC, Inc. v. General Motors Corp., 700 F. Supp. 838, 840 (W.D.Pa. 1988). An issue of material fact is said to be genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L.Ed.2d 202, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986).

In Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, supra, the Supreme Court held that the movant had the initial burden of showing the court the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, but that this did not require the movant to support the motion with affidavits or other materials that negated the opponent's claim. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The Court also held that Rule 56(e) requires the nonmoving party to "go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the `depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate `specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). This does not mean that the nonmoving party must produce evidence in a form that would be admissible at trial in order to avoid summary judgment. Obviously, Rule 56 does not require the nonmoving party to depose its own witnesses. Rather, Rule 56(e) permits a proper summary judgment motion to be opposed by any of the kinds of evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), except the mere pleadings themselves, and it is from this list that one would normally expect the nonmoving party to make the required showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Id. See Also, Morgan v. Havir Manufacturing Co., 887 F. Supp. 759 (E.D.Pa. 1994); McGrath v. City of Philadelphia, 864 F. Supp. 466, 472-473 (E.D.Pa. 1994).

Discussion

1. Plaintiff's claims for breach ...


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