Williams v. Touro Infirmary, No. 90-CA-1377

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Writing for the CourtBARRY
Citation578 So.2d 1006
PartiesBetty WILLIAMS, et al. v. TOURO INFIRMARY, et al. 578 So.2d 1006
Decision Date16 April 1991
Docket NumberNo. 90-CA-1377

Page 1006

578 So.2d 1006
Betty WILLIAMS, et al.
v.
TOURO INFIRMARY, et al.
No. 90-CA-1377.
578 So.2d 1006
Court of Appeal of Louisiana,
Fourth Circuit.
April 16, 1991.

Page 1007

Jerald N. Andry, Gilbert V. Andry, III, New Orleans, for plaintiffs, appellants.

Elmer E. White, III, Donna K. Wilson, Kullman, Inman, Bee, Downing & Banta, New Orleans, for defendants, appellees.

Before BARRY, WILLIAMS and BECKER, JJ.

BARRY, Judge.

Several employees of Touro Infirmary filed suit for wrongful discharge after they were terminated. Touro filed an exception of no cause of action and a motion for

Page 1008

summary judgment. Touro attached an affidavit from Brenda Albarado, its Employee Relations Manager, who stated that the plaintiffs were at-will employees who had no contract for a fixed term. The trial court maintained Touro's exception of no cause of action and permitted plaintiffs to amend their petition.

Plaintiffs' amended petition characterized their suit as based on wrongful discharge, slander, and breach of their retirement contracts. They added paragraphs relating to their alleged misappropriation of Touro's property, their termination, their disqualification for unemployment compensation, and loss of retirement benefits. The trial court again maintained the exception of no cause of action and dismissed the suit with prejudice.

Plaintiffs argue that their petition states a cause of action. Touro answered the appeal and requests attorney's fees and costs because the appeal is frivolous.

The peremptory exception of no cause of action tests the legal sufficiency of the petition. For purposes of the validity of the exception, all well-pleaded allegations of fact are accepted as true. La.C.C.P. Art. 927; Darville v. Texaco, Inc., 447 So.2d 473 (La.1984), cert. denied 459 U.S. 969, 103 S.Ct. 298, 74 L.Ed.2d 280 (1982); Cupp v. Federated Rural Electric Insurance Company, 459 So.2d 1337 (La.App. 3rd Cir.1984). The exception must be decided upon the face of the petition and any attached documents. Mott v. River Parish Maintenance, 432 So.2d 827 (La.1983).

The exception of no cause of action raises the question of whether the law affords a remedy to anyone based only upon the allegations of fact in the petition under any theory of the case. Mitchell v. Crane, 485 So.2d 613 (La.App. 4th Cir.1986). No evidence is admissible to support or controvert the exception. La.C.C.P. Art. 931; Kirkpatrick v. Young, 456 So.2d 622 (La.1984); Evans v. Detweiler, 466 So.2d 800 (La.App. 4th Cir.1985).

WRONGFUL DISCHARGE AND BREACH OF CONTRACT

In their original petition plaintiffs state they were employees of Touro. On February 3, 1988 they were allegedly discharged in order for Touro to end substantial benefits which had accrued because of their seniority. They further alleged that they were unlawfully subjected to a lie detector test prior to termination and suffered mental anguish and damage to their reputations as a result of the termination.

Plaintiffs' amended petition admitted their removal of sheets and pillow cases from the linen room (with a supervisor's permission) and return of the linen when told to do so. Plaintiffs claimed they were coerced to take a lie detector test under threat of losing their jobs, then were discharged (even though informally advised the tests were not unfavorable). They noted that "misappropriation of property" was the reason for their discharge and the basis to deny unemployment compensation. Their initial disqualification for unemployment benefits was reversed on appeal.

Plaintiffs claim that as an inducement to employment Touro offered fringe benefits including a retirement program at age 65 and other benefits. They claim the retirement commitment was made without reservation and Touro never said that participation in those benefits could be withdrawn and terminated at Touro's discretion.

A person/business is free to dismiss a worker without assigning any reason. The worker is free to leave without reason or cause. La.C.C. Art. 2747. A person can hire out his services for only a specified time or for the performance of certain work or enterprise. La.C.C. Art. 2746. Those are the two types of contracts for hire--the limited duration contract and the contract for services terminable at the will of either party. Under a limited duration contract the parties have clearly agreed to be bound for a certain period of time during which the employee is not free to depart without assigning cause and the employer is not free to dismiss the employee without giving a reason. Terrebonne v. Louisiana Association of Educators, 444

Page 1009

So.2d 206 (La.App. 1st Cir.1983), writ denied 445 So.2d 1232 (La.1984).

When an employee's job is for an indefinite term, the employment is terminable at the will of either the employer or employee and an employer is at liberty to dismiss an employee at any time for any reason without incurring liability for the discharge. Williams v. Delta Haven Inc., 416 So.2d 637 (La.App. 2d Cir.1982); Ballaron v. Equitable Shipyards, Inc., 521 So.2d 481 (La.App. 4th Cir.1988), writ denied 522 So.2d 571 (La.1988); Gil v. Metal Service Corporation, 412 So.2d 706 (La.App. 4th Cir.1982), writ denied 414...

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31 practice notes
  • 29,134 La.App. 2 Cir. 4/4/97, Gulf States Land and Development, Inc. v. Ouachita Nat. Bank in Monroe
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • April 4, 1997
    ...said that the person uttering the statement is actuated by malice or ill will. Martin, supra; Ward, supra; Williams v. Touro Infirmary, 578 So.2d 1006 (La.App. 4th The plaintiffs appeal the ruling of the trial court, arguing that the bank was not in good faith when it circulated the report ......
  • Massey v. G.B. Cooley Hosp. for Retarded Citizens, No. 23072-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • January 22, 1992
    ...Cir.1990); Thomas v. Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc., 535 So.2d 1046 (La.App.2d Cir.1988); Williams v. Touro Infirmary, 578 So.2d 1006 (La.App. 4th Cir.1991); Jarrell v. Carter, 577 So.2d 120 (La.App. 1st Cir.1991), writ denied, 582 So.2d 1311 (La.1991); Franks v. Duvall, 576 So.2d ......
  • Nicholas v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 30,735-CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • May 28, 1999
    ...the two types of contracts for hire are the limited duration contract and the terminable at-will contract. Williams v. Touro Infirmary, 578 So.2d 1006 (La.App. 4th Cir.1991); Deus v. Allstate Insurance Co., 15 F.3d 506 (5th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1014, 115 Page 837 573, 130 L.Ed......
  • Hanna v. Shell Exploration & Prod., Inc., NO. 2017–CA–0293
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • December 6, 2017
    ...v. Metal Service Corporation, 412 So.2d 706 (La.App. 4th Cir.1982), writ denied 414 So.2d 379 (La.1982). Williams v. Touro Infirmary , 578 So.2d 1006, 1008–09 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1991). Furthermore:Neither should a contract be interpreted in an unreasonable or a strained manner so as to enlarge......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • 29,134 La.App. 2 Cir. 4/4/97, Gulf States Land and Development, Inc. v. Ouachita Nat. Bank in Monroe
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • April 4, 1997
    ...said that the person uttering the statement is actuated by malice or ill will. Martin, supra; Ward, supra; Williams v. Touro Infirmary, 578 So.2d 1006 (La.App. 4th The plaintiffs appeal the ruling of the trial court, arguing that the bank was not in good faith when it circulated the report ......
  • Massey v. G.B. Cooley Hosp. for Retarded Citizens, No. 23072-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • January 22, 1992
    ...Cir.1990); Thomas v. Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, Inc., 535 So.2d 1046 (La.App.2d Cir.1988); Williams v. Touro Infirmary, 578 So.2d 1006 (La.App. 4th Cir.1991); Jarrell v. Carter, 577 So.2d 120 (La.App. 1st Cir.1991), writ denied, 582 So.2d 1311 (La.1991); Franks v. Duvall, 576 So.2d ......
  • Nicholas v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 30,735-CA.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • May 28, 1999
    ...the two types of contracts for hire are the limited duration contract and the terminable at-will contract. Williams v. Touro Infirmary, 578 So.2d 1006 (La.App. 4th Cir.1991); Deus v. Allstate Insurance Co., 15 F.3d 506 (5th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1014, 115 Page 837 573, 130 L.Ed......
  • Hanna v. Shell Exploration & Prod., Inc., NO. 2017–CA–0293
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • December 6, 2017
    ...v. Metal Service Corporation, 412 So.2d 706 (La.App. 4th Cir.1982), writ denied 414 So.2d 379 (La.1982). Williams v. Touro Infirmary , 578 So.2d 1006, 1008–09 (La.App. 4 Cir. 1991). Furthermore:Neither should a contract be interpreted in an unreasonable or a strained manner so as to enlarge......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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