reasons for termination except those listed "for cause", no additional reasons were envisioned. This interpretation confounds the obvious. Where procedures and time tables for notification are clearly set forth, and termination "for cause" requires no notification, the parties must have considered additional termination reasons. In fact, the Manual refers to termination due to lack of work or reduction in forces under another section entitled Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. Defendant's Exhibit 2; Section 1:100.5. Nothing in the employment papers reflect an unusual interpretation of the term "permanent", therefore the Court must consider other factors which may help infer the parties' intent.
Although consideration is not necessary for a permanent contract, which guarantees employment for so long as an employee performs satisfactorily, it is a strong indication of the parties intent. Littell v. Evening Star Newspaper Co., 73 App. D.C. 409, 120 F.2d 36, 37 (D.C. Cir. 1941). When parties suffer some detriment in exchange for acceptance of a permanent employment position, the logical inference is that the parties could not have contemplated summary discharge without liability. Riefkin v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 290 F. 286, 289 (D.C. Cir. 1923). In this case, Mr. Minihan was unemployed before he accepted Dr. Apple's offer. There is no evidence of consideration or circumstances which might infer a guarantee by Dr. Apple, for life-time employment.
The Court concludes that the parties, by their actions and terms of agreement, did not intend to guarantee life-time employment. Therefore, the contract, as a matter of law will be construed as terminable at will by either party, modified only, but the notification requirements set forth in the Manual. Hodge, 707 F.2d at 1570.
On the issue of punitive damages, the plaintiff offers a paucity of evidence to support such a claim. Although a plaintiff may sue on alternate theories of tort or contract, to recover, the evidence must support a willful, outrageous, evil, malicious or deliberately oppressive act. Mariner Water Renaturalizer of Washington, Inc. v. Aqua Purification, 214 U.S. App. D.C. 248, 665 F.2d 1066, 1071 (D.C. Cir. 1981). Under the law of the District of Columbia, such damages are disfavored. Id. In light of the Court's determination that the contract was basically terminable at will, the plaintiff's evidence is not sufficient to support a finding or an inference of a deliberately wrongful or malicious act by defendants. See H&R Block, Inc. v. Testerman, 275 Md. 36, 338 A.2d 48 (1975).
Finally, Mr. Minihan claims he was denied annual leave. Defendant does not dispute that plaintiff, in fact, had accrued more than 40 hours of annual leave, instead defendant asserts its right to act in accord with established policies. In a memorandum dated September 28, 1983, Association personnel were notified of a change in the annual leave policy. Defendant urges the Court to rely solely on the procedure set forth in that memorandum and dismiss the plaintiff's claim because he failed to properly follow the procedures. A company, however, follows established business customs which recognize the apparent, actual or implied authority of business officers to manage the ordinary corporate affairs. See 19 Am. Jur. 2d, Corporations, 1169, 1170 (1985). Mr. Minihan alleges that Dr. Apple specifically told him he would make arrangements for his annual leave. In reliance on this promise, the plaintiff took no further action. The Association does not dispute the plaintiff's factual contention and is now estopped to argue improper procedure, since Dr. Apple, as president, had the apparent and implied authority to create special arrangements for employees in salary matters.
The plaintiff is entitled to judgment on this claim.
An appropriate order has been issued.
This comes before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's cross motion for partial summary judgment. After giving careful consideration to the motions, the oppositions thereto and the record in this case, the Court concludes that plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment must be denied, and that defendant's motion for summary judgment must be granted, except with respect to the issue of annual leave. The Court further concludes that the plaintiff is entitled to judgment on the issue of annual leave and judgment is awarded sua sponte. A memorandum setting forth the reasons for the Court's determination accompanies this order.
In view of the above, it is hereby
ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment is denied, and it is further
ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted, except to the extent that it addresses the issue of annual leave, and it is further
ORDERED that the defendant shall pay to the plaintiff the amounts due to the plaintiff for accrued annual leave as set forth in the accompanying memorandum, and it is further
ORDERED that each party will bear its own costs.