Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Legal

Plaintiff doctor appealed a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County (California), which dismissed his complaint following a demurrer filed by defendant hospital, in plaintiff’s action for breach of an employment agreement.

Overview

Plaintiff doctor and defendant hospital entered into a written employment contract. Plaintiff claimed defendant breached the employment agreement by terminating plaintiff’s employment, and sued for damages. The trial court sustained defendant’s general demurrer and then dismissed plaintiff’s action; plaintiff appealed. The court reversed and held that plaintiff had sufficiently pleaded that he was terminated in violation of an implied contract with defendant. Although the court found nothing in the language of the employment agreement to rebut the presumption of Cal. Lab. Code § 2922, that plaintiff’s employment was terminable at will by either party, it was implied in the agreement that plaintiff would not be terminated except in accordance with bylaws of the hospital, which provided giving grounds of discipline, notice and hearing. The court found that there was no conflict between plaintiff’s implied contract theory and the express terms of the agreement, and could not conclude, as a matter of law, that the employment letter expressly excluded an implied agreement that plaintiff would be terminated according to the bylaws.

Outcome

During trial, the party litigants and their respective class action attorney strongly put forth evidence to the court and jurors. The dismissal of plaintiff doctor’s breach of contract action was reversed and the cause remanded for further proceedings because plaintiff sufficiently raised a claim that he had rights under defendant hospital’s bylaws which were impliedly incorporated into his written employment contract.

Procedural Posture

Plaintiff service company and defendant bottling company both appealed a decision of the Superior Court of Kern County (California), which dismissed two of plaintiffs’ causes of action and which applied a four-year statute of limitations to the action as an implied-in-law sale instead of as a tort of conversion.

Overview

Plaintiff service company had agreement with defendant bottling company to provide cylinders for use in defendant’s plant. After termination of the agreement, plaintiff demanded the return of its cylinders, and brought suit to recover damages when many were not returned. The trial court found that defendant’s failure to return the cylinders was a taking and detaining of goods but that plaintiff waived a conversion claim and elected to treat the action as a purchase and sale. The trial court then applied the four-year statute of limitations under Cal. Com. Code § 2725(1). On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court erred in the statute of limitations and plaintiff argued the trial court erroneously determined it was not entitled to judgment on two of its causes of action. The court affirmed the judgment, and dismissed plaintiff’s cross-appeal, holding that plaintiff’s claims were contractual in nature and were under the statute of limitations for sales contracts in Cal. Com. Code § 2725. The court found that there was no fixed or readily calculable sum supported by the record, so plaintiff was precluded from judgment on the claim based upon account stated or open book account.

Outcome

The court affirmed the judgment against defendant bottling company but dismissed a cross appeal by plaintiff service company for additional causes of action in an action over the failure of defendant to return property belonging to plaintiff. The court affirmed that the action should have been under the statute of limitations of contract instead of as a tort of conversion.