Campbell v. Eli Lilly and Co.

Decision Date30 December 1980
Docket NumberNo. 2-580A151,2-580A151
Citation413 N.E.2d 1054
Parties115 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 4417 James T. CAMPBELL, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ELI LILLY AND COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Robert C. Bruner, Michael C. Frische, Indianapolis, Alan B. Morrison, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellant.

Charles L. Whistler, John W. Purcell, Baker & Daniels, Indianapolis, for defendant-appellee.

NEAL, Judge.


James T. Campbell appeals the granting of summary judgment against him in his action against Eli Lilly & Company (Lilly), in which he sought damages and reinstatement based upon his discharge by Lilly. 1

We affirm.


The facts most favorable to Campbell, as the non-moving party, reveal the following. Campbell was employed by Lilly, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, as an antibiotic operator in 1953. He became a technical associate in the research section in 1967, which position he maintained until the employment relationship terminated in 1978. From April, 1973, through the remainder of his employment, Campbell worked, at different times, as a technical associate for three separate research teams conducting research on various drugs. Campbell had no written contract of employment with Lilly, and there was no agreement as to a definite term of employment.

On December 2, 1977, Campbell's attorney, Carl Peters, met with Lilly's staff counsel. Peters related in substance that Campbell had knowledge of various acts of misconduct on the part of the superiors under whom he was assigned during the 1973-1978 period. Campbell further questioned the safety of some of the drugs and made other accusations. At the close of the meeting it was determined that Lilly would investigate Campbell's allegations. Campbell was placed on a paid leave of absence pending completion of the investigation.

The investigation was completed by January 9, 1978, on which date a meeting of Campbell, Peters, and Lilly officials was held. At this meeting, Campbell reiterated his allegations of misconduct and contended that his research work saved Lilly some $500,000,000 in future claims against the company. Lilly reported the findings of its investigation and concluded that Campbell's accusations were totally false. Campbell was placed on an unpaid leave of absence.

Campbell was subsequently informed that there was no job for him at Lilly and on March 21, 1978, he advised Lilly that he had quit. Campbell was fully paid for the work he had done and received all company benefits that had accrued to him, including pension.


Campbell presents six issues for review essentially as follows:

I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion by allowing Lilly 122 days in which to file a responsive pleading;

II. Whether the trial court erred in limiting discovery;

III. Whether the trial court was impermissibly biased and prejudiced;

IV. Whether the cumulative effect of the alleged errors asserted in Issues I-III denied Campbell his rights to fair proceedings;

V. Whether a cognizable claim is stated by a former at will employee who claims he was discharged in retaliation for having reported to company officials serious allegations of misconduct on the part of his superiors.

VI. Whether the trial court erred in allegedly determining an issue of material fact regarding the existence of a covenant of employment.

Standard of Review

The principles we apply in reviewing a summary judgment are familiar. Ind. Rules of Procedure, Trial Rule 56(C) states in part that:

"The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answer to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits and testimony, 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."

Our task on review, therefore, is to determine whether there is any genuine issue of material fact and whether the law was correctly applied. Smith v. P. & B. Corporation, (1979) Ind.App., 386 N.E.2d 1232. In so determining the existence of a genuine issue of material fact, we accept as true all facts set forth by the party opposing the motion and resolve all doubts against the party who moved for summary judgment. Johnson v. Motors Dispatch, Inc., (1977) Ind.App., 360 N.E.2d 224; St. Joseph Bank & Trust Company of South Bend v. The Wackenhut Corporation, (1976) Ind.App., 352 N.E.2d 842.

Issue I. Granting enlargement of time

Campbell contends the trial court abused its discretion by allowing Lilly some 122 days to file its responsive pleading to his complaint. Campbell claims that the effect of the enlargements allowed Lilly was to "unduly delay the cause and frustrate the appellant's reasonable efforts to secure a just determination of his action."

Lilly contends that it received automatic enlargement of time in which to respond under Local Rule 5(H) of the Marion Circuit and Superior Courts. Prior to the expiration of the enlarged period, Campbell filed an amended complaint adding a new cause of action. Lilly then filed a motion for enlargement of time in response to the filing of the amended complaint. Lilly sought one further enlargement to accommodate the filing and signing of Campbell's deposition.

Ind. Rules of Procedure, Trial Rule 6 provides the trial court with discretion to permit enlargements of time for pleadings. Only an abuse of that discretion will allow this court to reverse the decision in Campbell's favor. Snyder v. Tell City Clinic, (1979) Ind.App., 391 N.E.2d 623. The record shows that a good portion of the delay was occasioned by Campbell's filing the amended complaint and his reluctance to sign his own deposition. Further delay was attributed to the reporter who transcribed the deposition. Campbell has failed to demonstrate any prejudice whatever. There was no abuse of discretion.

Issue II. Discovery

Campbell argues that the trial court abused its discretion in limiting discovery. In particular, Campbell complains that the trial court failed to compel Lilly to answer certain interrogatories. Additionally, Campbell asserts that the trial court failed to enter a ruling on Lilly's motion to limit discovery. Campbell urges that the trial court's action prevented him from pursuing his case in an "orderly, full fashion," and that the trial court, in ruling on Lilly's motion for summary judgment before discovery had been completed, acted contrary to the policy underlying summary judgment.

In ruling on issues of discovery, the trial court exercises its judicial discretion; this court will interfere only if the trial court has abused its discretion. Geib v. Estate of Geib, (1979) Ind.App., 395 N.E.2d 336.

In the case at bar, Lilly successfully sought to limit discovery, temporarily, to matters relevant to the issues raised by its motion for summary judgment.

At a pretrial conference, the trial court directed the parties to limit discovery, temporarily, to matters relevant to the disposition of Lilly's motion for summary judgment. This consisted of restricting Campbell's discovery to the deposition of the two Lilly employees, Dr. Tuttle and Mr. Taylor, who were identified by Campbell as having knowledge of issues relevant to the motion. Indeed, Campbell failed to depose these witnesses prior to the hearing on the summary judgment motion, and declined to take advantage of the court's reasonable offer to delay hearing on the motion until Campbell took those depositions. Campbell does not set forth in his brief with any specificity whatever the nature of the interrogatories he sought to be answered by Lilly. Lilly characterizes these interrogatories as lengthy and convoluted and relating matters not relevant to the summary judgment motion.

We find no abuse of discretion. Lilly directs us to the case of Newton v. Yates, (1976) Ind.App., 353 N.E.2d 485, wherein this court affirmed the delaying of discovery relating to punitive damages, pending determination of other issues, stating:

"The 'principle of judicial parsimony' allows a court to delay or suspend discovery on one issue if the outcome of another issue, to be tried first, will be dispositive of the entire case." (Citations omitted.)

353 N.E.2d at 491.

This principle was followed, and prudently so, in the case at bar.

Issue III. Trial court bias

In this issue, Campbell claims that he was denied his due process right to a fair proceeding and that the trial judge demonstrated bias, prejudice, and hostility to Campbell. In his brief, he points to several examples of alleged bias on the part of the trial court consisting of statements made by the trial judge at the summary judgment hearing.

We have carefully examined the specific references cited by Campbell. Regarding the court's expressions of alleged antipathy toward the Food and Drug Administration, and the federal bureaucracy in general, we see nothing indicating an unfair predisposition on the part of the judge to Campbell's case. Campbell claims the trial judge erroneously rejected relevant evidence at the hearing. Campbell made no objection; indeed, his counsel stated that he understood the trial court's reasoning. Campbell points to the judge's remark in reference to the personnel manual that, "I am not about to read Lilly's gingerbread book. It doesn't apply to this particular case." While this characterization of the manual is interesting, nevertheless the determination of its inapplicability to the case is correct. See discussion of Issue VI, infra. Campbell notes that the judge characterized Counts I, II, and III of the complaint as "hogwash." We disagree that this expression tends to show prejudice. It is a familiar and colloquial manner of saying that the judge found those counts of the complaint as being without merit, and ultimately ruled accordingly.

Finally, Campbell alludes to other remarks contended to reflect bias, prejudice and...

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