955 F.2d 358 (5th Cir. 1992), 91-2695, Conaway v. Control Data Corp.

Docket Nº:91-2695
Citation:955 F.2d 358
Party Name:Jack W. CONAWAY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CONTROL DATA CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:March 10, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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955 F.2d 358 (5th Cir. 1992)

Jack W. CONAWAY, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

CONTROL DATA CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 91-2695

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

March 10, 1992

Rehearing Denied April 6, 1992.

Page 359

Penny P. Bell, Houston, Tex., for Jack W. Conaway.

Karen L. Heuer, Atty., Control Data Corp., Minneapolis, Minn., Lynne M. Gomez, Ross, Banks, May, Cron & Cavin, Houston, Tex., for Control Data Corp.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before JOLLY, DAVIS, and SMITH, Circuit Judges.

E. GRADY JOLLY, Circuit Judge:

Because he was fired, Jack Conaway sued his employer, Control Data Corporation ("CDC"), for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract and discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"). The district court granted summary judgment in favor of CDC on the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. At trial, the district court granted a directed verdict in favor of CDC on the breach of contract claim, finding that there was no employment contract altering Conaway's "at will" status, and also on the ADEA claim, finding that Conaway did not file his complaint with the EEOC during the applicable time period. The court further held that there was no equitable basis to toll the period or estop the defendant from asserting the limitation as a defense. The jury returned a verdict for $50,000 for Conaway on the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. The district court, however, granted a JNOV in favor of CDC,

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holding that Texas does not recognize a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress in the employment context.

We hold that the district court did not err in granting CDC a directed verdict on Conaway's ADEA claim or his breach of contract claim. We also hold that the district court properly granted CDC's motion for JNOV with respect to Conaway's negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. Therefore, we affirm the decision and judgment of the district court.

I

Jack Conaway was employed by CDC for more than twenty-two years--from January 1964 until November 14, 1986. On October 15, 1986, Conaway was notified that his employment with CDC would be terminated effective November 14, 1986, because of a cut-back in personnel.

Conaway contends that he was dismissed because of his age and that his termination was otherwise wrongful. He was fifty-one years old at the time. Conaway did not file a claim of age discrimination under the ADEA until some eleven-plus months later. On September 13, 1988, he filed this suit in district court alleging that CDC violated the ADEA, breached his employment contract and negligently and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

Upon CDC's motion, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of CDC on Conaway's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The remaining issues were tried by a jury. At the close of Conaway's evidence, the district court granted CDC's motion for a directed verdict on Conaway's ADEA claim, finding that the action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The district court also granted a directed verdict on Conaway's claim for breach of contract because the evidence did not support the existence of a contract. However, the district court denied CDC's motion for a directed verdict on the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim and submitted that cause of action to the jury, which awarded Conaway $50,000.

CDC filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The court issued its memorandum opinion and entered a final judgment, granting CDC's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and awarding Conaway nothing. In doing so, the district court held that Texas law does not recognize claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress in employment termination cases. Conaway appeals.

II

On appeal, Conaway argues: (1) Texas does recognize claims for negligent...

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