Miller v. Schmid Laboratories, Inc., No. 23565

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTOAL; GREGORY; GREGORY; BRUCE LITTLEJOHN
Citation414 S.E.2d 126,307 S.C. 140
Parties, 125 Lab.Cas. P 57,419, 7 IER Cases 268 Robert G. MILLER, Appellant, v. SCHMID LABORATORIES, INC., a/k/a Schmid Products Company, Brad Foster, and Roy Kelly, Respondents. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 23565
Decision Date06 December 1991

Page 126

414 S.E.2d 126
307 S.C. 140, 125 Lab.Cas. P 57,419,
7 IER Cases 268
Robert G. MILLER, Appellant,
v.
SCHMID LABORATORIES, INC., a/k/a Schmid Products Company,
Brad Foster, and Roy Kelly, Respondents.
No. 23565.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard Dec. 6, 1991.
Decided Jan. 27, 1992.

[307 S.C. 141] Karl L. Kenyon, Anderson, for appellant.

Gray L. Geddie, Jr. and William S. Rutchow, of Greenville, for respondents.

TOAL, Justice.

This is an appeal from the jury verdict in favor of the employer in a wrongful termination action by an at-will employee. The sole issue we address on appeal is whether the trial judge erred in charging the jury on the definition of bilateral contract in an at-will employee's action for wrongful termination against the employer based upon the procedures in the employee handbook. We reverse and remand.

FACTS

Miller was employed by Schmid in February, 1978 as a maintenance supervisor. Miller was transferred to the Anderson, South Carolina, plant in 1981. His original position at the Anderson plant was plant engineer. In 1987, Miller was promoted to fabrication manager. Due to a decline in business, the position of fabrication manager was eliminated in July, 1988 and Miller was laid off.

Miller claimed that his layoff was in violation of the provisions of the employee handbook prepared by Schmid. Schmid claimed that the handbook did not apply to Miller because he was a salaried management employee and the employee handbook applied only to hourly employees. Miller did not claim a bilateral contract of employment with Schmid, he claimed reliance on the Schmid employee handbook.

Before sending the case to the jury, the trial judge charged the jury with language from Small v. Springs Industries, Inc., 292 S.C. 481, 357 S.E.2d 452 (1987). The trial judge then [307 S.C. 142] charged the legal definition of bilateral contract. Miller claims on appeal that the jury charges were confusing. We agree.

LAW/ANALYSIS

In Small, this Court held that an employee handbook may form the basis for an employment contract between the employer and employee. This Court rejected, in Small, Spring's argument that there could be no contract "because there was no mutuality or 'meeting of the minds' between the parties." Small at 484-85, 357 S.E.2d at 454. The trial judge properly charged the law of Small. However, after giving the Small charge, the trial judge charged:

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17 practice notes
  • Williams v. Riedman, No. 3127.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 28, 2000
    ...(2) 339 S.C. 260 those procedures applied to the employee, and (3) the employer violated those procedures. Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 414 S.E.2d 126 (1992); Jones, 331 S.C. at 358, 503 S.E.2d at A. Riedman asserts Williams failed to establish the employee manual constituted......
  • Jones v. General Elec. Co., No. 2839.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 4, 1998
    ...of whether an employee handbook can form the basis of a contract between the employer and the employee. Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 414 S.E.2d 126 (1992). Rather, in establishing such a claim, the relevant issues are whether (1) the handbook set out procedures binding on the......
  • Cole v. Raut, No. 3995.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 25, 2005
    ...principle of law as governing a case when such principle is inapplicable to the issues on trial." Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 142-43, 414 S.E.2d 126, 127 (1992) (quoting Dunsil v. E.M. Jones Chevrolet Co., 268 S.C. 291, 295, 233 S.E.2d 101, 103 "In order for the do......
  • Taylor v. Cummins Atlantic, Inc., Civ. A. No. 3:92-1850-19BD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 1, 1994
    ...being executed." McMahan v. McMahon, 122 S.C. 336, 115 S.E. 293, 294 (1922). 9 Plaintiff relies upon Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 414 S.E.2d 126 (1992), for the proposition that it was not necessary for defendant to have distributed or published the Manual or the Handboo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Williams v. Riedman, No. 3127.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • February 28, 2000
    ...(2) 339 S.C. 260 those procedures applied to the employee, and (3) the employer violated those procedures. Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 414 S.E.2d 126 (1992); Jones, 331 S.C. at 358, 503 S.E.2d at A. Riedman asserts Williams failed to establish the employee manual constituted......
  • Jones v. General Elec. Co., No. 2839.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • May 4, 1998
    ...of whether an employee handbook can form the basis of a contract between the employer and the employee. Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 414 S.E.2d 126 (1992). Rather, in establishing such a claim, the relevant issues are whether (1) the handbook set out procedures binding on the......
  • Cole v. Raut, No. 3995.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 25, 2005
    ...principle of law as governing a case when such principle is inapplicable to the issues on trial." Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 142-43, 414 S.E.2d 126, 127 (1992) (quoting Dunsil v. E.M. Jones Chevrolet Co., 268 S.C. 291, 295, 233 S.E.2d 101, 103 "In order for the do......
  • Taylor v. Cummins Atlantic, Inc., Civ. A. No. 3:92-1850-19BD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 1, 1994
    ...being executed." McMahan v. McMahon, 122 S.C. 336, 115 S.E. 293, 294 (1922). 9 Plaintiff relies upon Miller v. Schmid Labs., Inc., 307 S.C. 140, 414 S.E.2d 126 (1992), for the proposition that it was not necessary for defendant to have distributed or published the Manual or the Handboo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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