Saturday, April 13, 2013

Robert Blinn v. Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center, Inc. case brief

Robert Blinn v. Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center, Inc. case brief summary
270 Neb. 809; 708 N.W.2d 235

A court of appeals for the state of NE reversed the judgment of the district court and entered summary judgment against the plaintiff employee after he sued the employer (D) for breach of contract and promissory estoppel.
The court of appeals found that the employee's complaint was constructively amended by implied consent pursuant to NE pleading rules.
The employee asked for further review.

-Blinn's at-will employment status had been modified by representations of Beatrice.
-Beatrice promised that Blinn would be employed for a period of at least 5 years.
-The representations induced Blinn to forgo another employment opportunity.
-Afterwards, Beatrice terminated Blinn's employment approximately 6 months after the alleged representations.

-The employer argued that the Nebraska rule should not have been considered by the court of appeals because it was neither assigned as error nor argued in the employee's appellate brief.
-The supreme court found that the employee could not properly have been held to have waived any issue with respect to the scope of the pleadings by not raising that issue in its appellate brief.
-The court of appeals erred in concluding that the pleadings were constructively amended by implied consent pursuant to Rule 15(b) where the evidence relied upon was not objected to because it was pertinent to the issues that were properly pleaded in the case.
-There was no genuine issue of material fact with respect to the employee's breach of contract claim as there was insufficient evidence to conclude that any employee of the employer intended to offer a contract of employment on terms other than employment at will.
-There was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the employee was promised terms of employment that could reasonably have been expected to induce him to forgo a new job opportunity of which he informed the employer.
-The issue of statute of frauds was moot.

-The doctrine of promissory estoppel is based on the proposition that a promise, which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance on the part of the promisee or a third person, and which does induce such action or forbearance, is binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise.
-Promissory estoppel requires that reliance be reasonable and foreseeable.

The judgment was affirmed as to summary judgment on the employee's breach of oral contract claim.
The judgement was, however, reversed as to the finding that no genuine issue of material fact existed with respect to the employee's promissory estoppel claim.
The court of appeals erred in its application of the pleading rule.

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