Hayden v. Bruno's, Inc.

Decision Date18 October 1991
Citation588 So.2d 874
Parties6 IER Cases 1508 Henry HAYDEN v. BRUNO'S, INC. 1901339.
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Jeffrey W. Bennitt of Kizer & Bennitt, Birmingham, for appellant.

F.A. Flowers III of Burr & Forman, Birmingham, for appellee.

KENNEDY, Justice.

Henry Hayden filed an action pursuant to Ala.Code 1975, § 25-5-11.1 against Bruno's, Inc., alleging that his employment with Bruno's had been terminated in retaliation for his having filed a workmen's compensation claim against Bruno's. The case was tried before the trial court without a jury, and at the end of Hayden's evidence, the trial court granted Bruno's Rule 41(b), A.R.Civ.P., motion for involuntary dismissal. Hayden appeals.

Rule 41(b), A.R.Civ.P. provides:

"After the plaintiff, in an action tried by the court without a jury, has completed the presentation of his evidence, the defendant, without waiving his right to offer evidence in the event the motion is not granted, may move for a dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and the law the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. The court as trier of facts may then determine them and render judgment against the plaintiff."

In considering a Rule 41(b) motion, the trial court is the ultimate trier of fact and is free to weigh the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses. Feaster v. American Liberty Insurance Co., 410 So.2d 399 (Ala.1982). The normal presumptions of correctness attach to a trial court's ruling on an involuntary dismissal. Id., at 401. The trial court's ruling need only be supported by credible evidence, and it will not be set aside unless it is clearly erroneous or palpably wrong or unjust. Conner v. City of Dothan, 500 So.2d 1065 (Ala.1986).

The trial court granted Bruno's 41(b) motion because it found that Hayden did not produce sufficient evidence to support his claim. Accordingly, we review the evidence that the record reflects Hayden presented.

Hayden presented, without objection, evidence of a workmen's compensation action against Bruno's, an arbitration proceeding between him and Bruno's, and a federal lawsuit arising out of the arbitration proceeding. All those proceedings arose from the following set of facts, which is also the basis of this action: Hayden was injured in October 1984 while working as a stock clerk at Bruno's. After that injury, Hayden worked sporadically until February 1, 1986, when his doctor ordered him to cease work completely. In November 1985 Hayden filed an action against Bruno's for workmen's compensation benefits. The doctor allowed Hayden to return to work on April 6, 1987. When Hayden went to the Bruno's store where he had formerly worked for reemployment, the store manager told him that he could not return to work and that he should contact Bruno's personnel department. Hayden contacted the personnel department, and a Bruno's representative told him that he had been terminated because he had been on leave of absence for more than one year. There is documentary evidence indicating that Bruno's did not want to rehire Hayden because Hayden's job performance had been evaluated by Bruno's management as poor and because he had numerous disputes with his supervisors about his attitude and his performance.

At all times relevant to this action, The National Labor Relations Board and Bruno's recognized the United Food and Commercial Worker's Union, AFL-CIO-CLC ("the Union"), as "the sole and exclusive bargaining agent with respect to rates of pay, hours, and all other terms and conditions of employment for the appropriate bargaining unit," according to a contract between the Union and Bruno's. It is undisputed that Bruno's and the Union entered into a collective bargaining agreement that covered Hayden at all times relevant to this action. A provision of that agreement states that leaves of absences for injury shall "in no event [be] for more than one year." The agreement was modified to state that pursuant to the "[provision] that no leave for illness or injury extend longer than one year, the parties agree that unless mutually agreed in writing by the company and the union, any employee will be terminated after being on leave for 1 year...." The record contains no writing showing that Bruno's and the Union agreed that Hayden was not to be terminated after one year's leave of...

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  • Dunlop Tire Corp. v. Allen
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 2, 1998
    ...compensation benefits," Twilley, supra. The employee cannot leave that as an assumption for the court to make. See Hayden v. Bruno's, Inc., 588 So.2d 874 (Ala. 1991); Ala.Code 1975, § In Culbreth, supra, this Court elaborated on its holding in Twilley, addressing the method to follow after ......
  • Hess v. Clarcor, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 19, 1992
    ...the discharge is the result of the nondiscriminatory application of a facially neutral absenteeism policy. See, e.g., Hayden v. Bruno's, Inc. (Ala.1991), 588 So.2d 874; Chiaia v. Pepperidge Farm, Inc. (1991), 24 Conn.App. 362, 588 A.2d 652; Smith v. Electrical System Division of Bristol Cor......
  • Alabama Power Co. v. Aldridge
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    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • December 6, 2002
    ...claim and the subsequent discharge in order to establish a prima facie case. See, e.g., Twilley, 536 So.2d 1364; Hayden v. Bruno's, Inc., 588 So.2d 874, 876 (Ala.1991) (affirming the trial court's summary judgment for Bruno's because the plaintiff "presented no evidence that Bruno's termina......
  • American Petroleum Equipment & Const. Inc. v. Fancher
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    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • September 19, 1997
    ...a judgment based on those findings will not be set aside unless it is clearly erroneous or palpably wrong or unjust. Hayden v. Bruno's, Inc., 588 So.2d 874, 875 (Ala.1991); see also O'Brien v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 293 F.2d 1 (3d Cir.1961); Feaster v. American Liberty Insurance Co., ......
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