TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT WITHOUT CAUSE DOES NOT SUPPORT FRAUD IN INDUCEMENT CLAIM
A former employee failed to state sufficient facts to support a claim for fraud in the inducement where there was no evidence of a false statement or an intent to mislead.
Plaintiff left his former employer to work for defendant. The parties entered into an employment contract on February 18, 2015. That agreement provided for an initial five year term of employment. In contained provisions relating to the termination of plaintiff’s employment, which included voluntary termination, just cause and without cause. The employment contract stated that it constituted the entire agreement between the parties. Defendant terminated plaintiff’s employment in a letter dated December 29, 2015, wherein defendant stated it was ending plaintiff employment for cause.
In his complaint, plaintiff’s third count alleged that defendant fraudulently induced him to leave his prior employment to work for defendant by a false representation outside the written contract. Plaintiff contended that Dan Klingerman, a principal of defendant, misrepresented that he would take care of plaintiff if plaintiff came to work for defendant. At his deposition, plaintiff stated that Klingerman didn’t twist his arm, but that he promised plaintiff if defendant went under before the expiration of the contract term that plaintiff would continue to have a job with one of Klingerman’s other enterprises.
Defendant moved for partial summary judgment as to the fraud in the inducement claim. The court found that plaintiff’s own testimony of what was said did not establish a broad guarantee of employment. Plaintiff did not provide evidence that the statement was made falsely or with intent to mislead. Furthermore, the employment agreement provided for termination with or without cause. Because the parties had an employment contract, the court held that writing was the best and only evidence concerning their agreement. Plaintiff conceded the record was silent as to whether the misrepresentation was false and whether the injury was proximately cause by it. Accordingly the court granted defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment on the claim for fraud in the inducement.
Reference: Guenot v. Motis Energy, LLC, PICS Case No. 17-1483 (C.P. Lycoming Aug. 29, 2017) Digest of Recent Opinions, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, 40 PLW 964, October 17, 2017
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