English v. General Elec. Co., s. 88-3976

Decision Date03 April 1989
Docket Number88-3982,Nos. 88-3976,s. 88-3976
Citation871 F.2d 22
PartiesVera M. ENGLISH, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee, Government Accountability Project, Amicus Curiae. Vera M. ENGLISH, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant, Government Accountability Project, Amicus Curiae.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

M. Travis Payne (Edelstein and Payne, Raleigh, N.C., Mozart G. Ratner, Washington, D.C., on brief), for appellant/cross-appellee.

Peter G. Nash (Dixie L. Atwater, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart, Washington, D.C., William W. Sturges, Weinstein & Sturges, Charlotte, N.C., on brief), for appellee/cross-appellant.

(Stephen M. Kohn, Michael D. Kohn, Government Accountability Project, on brief), for amicus curiae.

Before RUSSELL, WIDENER and HALL, Circuit Judges.


In this diversity action, Vera M. English appeals the district court's order dismissing her complaint on the ground that her state tort claim was preempted by federal law. The defendant, General Electric Company ("G.E."), cross-appeals from the district court denial of its motion to dismiss English's claim on the alternative ground that such claim failed to state a cause of action under North Carolina law. Finding no error, we affirm.

English was employed by G.E. as a laboratory technician at a nuclear fuel production facility in North Carolina. In February, 1984, she complained to both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC") and her supervisors at the G.E. facility regarding what she believed to be serious violations of NRC safety standards. When no corrective action was taken, she deliberately failed to clean up radiation contamination at her work station in an effort to prove to her supervisor that such contamination was not being detected by the facility's safety inspectors. Although her efforts led to corrective action, she was disciplined by the company for her failure to clean up contamination of which she was aware. It is the measures allegedly taken by G.E. to discipline her that formed the basis for her tort claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. 1

The district court held that English had, under North Carolina law, stated a good cause of action for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, the court further determined that the "whistleblower" provisions of the Energy Reorganization Act ("ERA"), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 5851, were intended by Congress to constitute the sole remedy for nuclear facility employees who allege discrimination resulting from safety complaints and, therefore, English's state claim was preempted by the federal statute. On appeal, English contends that the lower court erred in ruling that Cong...

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7 cases
  • Norris v. Lumbermen's Mut. Cas. Co., 89-1019
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • May 4, 1989
    ...found preemption: English v. General Electric Co., 683 F.Supp. 1006 (E.D.N.C.1988), aff'd per curiam on basis of decision below, 871 F.2d 22 (4th Cir.1989); Snow v. Bechtel Constr. Inc., 647 F.Supp. 1514 (C.D.Cal.1986); Chrisman v. Philips Indus., Inc., 242 Kan. 772, 751 P.2d 140 (1988). Ot......
  • English v. General Electric Company
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 4, 1990
    ...§ 210 options and rely solely on state remedies is simply too speculative a basis on which to rest a pre-emption finding. Pp. 87-90. 871 F.2d 22 (CA 1989), reversed and BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. M. Travis Payne, Raleigh, N.C., for petitioner. Christopher J. ......
  • Maher v. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc.
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court — Appellate Division
    • March 9, 1990
    ...den. 493 U.S. 876, 110 S.Ct. 213, 107 L.Ed.2d 166 (1989), relied upon by N.J. Transit, inapplicable. See also English v. General Elec. Co., 871 F.2d 22, 23 (4th Cir.1989), cert. granted 493 U.S. 1055, 110 S.Ct. 862, 107 L.Ed.2d 946 (1990) holding that a state law claim alleging a retaliator......
  • English v. General Elec. Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of North Carolina
    • May 7, 1991
    ...opinions and need not be fully repeated here. See English v. General Electric Company, 683 F.Supp. 1006 (E.D.N.C.1988), aff'd, 871 F.2d 22 (4th Cir.1989), reversed and remanded, ___ U.S. ___, 110 S.Ct. 2270, 110 L.Ed.2d 65 (1990). In summary, plaintiff alleged that she was discharged and su......
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