641 N.E.2d 1275 (Ind.App. 1 Dist. 1994), 82A01-9406-CV-203, Wior v. Anchor Industries, Inc.

Docket Nº:82A01-9406-CV-203.
Citation:641 N.E.2d 1275
Party Name:Glenn WIOR, Appellant-Plaintiff, v. ANCHOR INDUSTRIES, INC., Appellee-Defendant.
Case Date:October 25, 1994
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana

Page 1275

641 N.E.2d 1275 (Ind.App. 1 Dist. 1994)

Glenn WIOR, Appellant-Plaintiff,

v.

ANCHOR INDUSTRIES, INC., Appellee-Defendant.

No. 82A01-9406-CV-203.

Court of Appeals of Indiana, First District.

October 25, 1994

Page 1276

Rehearing Denied Jan. 11, 1995.

Page 1277

Joseph A. Yocum, Yocum and Yocum, Evansville, for appellant.

Wm. Michael Schiff, Mary Lee Franke, Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, Evansville, for appellee.

ROBERTSON, Judge.

Glenn Wior appeals from the summary judgment granted to Anchor Industries, Inc., in Wior's lawsuit for breach of contract, unjust dismissal, and wrongful discharge. Wior presents the following issues:

I. Did the court below commit error in granting Anchor Industries, Inc.'s (hereafter "Anchor"[) ] motion for summary judgment against Glenn Wior (hereafter "Wior").

II. Did the court below's statement of undisputed material facts omit facts that require a trial on the merits.

III. Did Wior have a wrongful discharge claim for breach of contract of permanent employment outside the statute of frauds.

IV. Did Wior have a viable claim for wrongful discharge based upon his refusal to terminate an employee for having a worker's compensation claim.

V. Did the court below's findings relating to Anchor's employee handbook correctly state any viable issue.

IV. Did Wior have a viable claim for either negligent misrepresentation or intentional misrepresentation.

We affirm in part and reverse in part.

On review of summary judgment, this Court stands in the shoes of the trial court. Maurice F. Jones Trust v. Barnett Banks (1994), Ind.App., 637 N.E.2d 1301, 1303. This Court must liberally construe all designated evidentiary matter in favor of the nonmovant and resolve any doubt against the movant. Id. Even if it appears that the nonmovant will not succeed at trial, summary judgment is inappropriate where material facts conflict or where undisputed facts lead to conflicting inferences. Id. Summary judgment is appropriate if the designated evidentiary matter shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.

The evidence most favorable to Wior, the nonmovant, shows that he has worked in the sewing and needle trades industry since childhood. He first worked in a family business, then for other employers, then for himself. He eventually operated a consulting business in Indianapolis.

Anchor Industries is a manufacturer of custom canvas and synthetic products for the outdoor recreational industry. Due to a promotion within the company, a Plant Supervisor position became available at a plant in Evansville; and Anchor Industries advertised for the position in an Indianapolis newspaper. The advertisement was a "blind ad," which means the prospective employer is not identified. The advertisement did not mention that the position was located in Evansville, only the "Middlewest." Wior responded to the advertisement with a resume and a cover letter.

Anchor Industries contacted Wior about prospective employment. At a later meeting, Wior advised Anchor Industries that he currently had permanent employment through his consulting business and that, without permanent employment with Anchor Industries, he would not move himself and his family from Indianapolis to Evansville. Anchor Industries informed Wior that they were looking for someone they did not have to train to fill the position. Anchor Industries indicated the position was a "position of permanence" and specified "that it was not temporary employment." Employment was to be "until retirement;" "[i]t was ... 20 plus years." When Anchor Industries asked Wior whether he would be willing to give up his business to work for Anchor Industries, Wior answered, "with a commitment to a sound future, a long-term employment--you were talking 20 plus years--a good opportunity here to be a V.P. at Anchor, yes." Wior stated that he would agree to come to Evansville but that he had to have a permanent job. The company agreed and hired him.

Wior began work on August 3, 1992. Anchor Industries informed him that his job performance would be evaluated after 90

Page 1278

days of employment. The subsequent job performance evaluation revealed that production in several departments would not be affected by Wior's absence and that Wior lacked "a sense of what direction to go to learn the job." On or about November 11, 1992, Anchor Industries discharged Wior because he "was just not fitting in at Anchor." Anchor had been looking for someone it did not have to train and Wior "was just not working out."

I, II, & III

Wior claims he has a valid wrongful discharge claim for breach of contract of permanent employment and asserts that his oral contract remained outside the Statute of Frauds. He claims he could not be discharged without good cause. Anchor Industries takes the contrary positions. The trial court stated that Wior's claim:

is not supported by the undisputed, material facts in the record. No enforceable oral employment contract can be found to exist between Wior and Anchor because of a failure to comply with the requirement of Indiana's Statute of Frauds ("Statute") and Wior cannot avoid the Statute's requirement under any theory.

Wior need not, however, have supported his claim with undisputed facts in the record. Summary judgment is inappropriate where facts, although undisputed, lead to conflicting inferences. The trial court should have liberally construed all designated evidentiary matter in favor of...

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