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Abbott v. Hamilton Overseas Contracting Corp.

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division

June 21, 1955

Abbott
v.
Hamilton Overseas Contracting Corp.

Harry Abbey, New York City, of counsel (Irving S. Colman, New York City, attorney), for plaintiff-appellant and respondents Gallagher and Reno.

John A. Sullivan, New York City, of counsel (Ezra P. Prentice, Jr., New York City, with him on the brief; Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, New York City, attorneys), for defendant-appellant.

[141 N.Y.S.2d 894] Harold H. McBride, Syracuse, of counsel (Andrews, McBride, Abend & Pomeroy, Syracuse, attorneys), for respondents Reed and Spring.

Before PECK, P. J., and COHN, CALLAHAN, BREITEL and BOTEIN, JJ.

PER CURIAM.

Judgment, so far as appealed from, affirmed with costs. Order filed.

All concur except BREITEL, I., who dissents in part, votes to affirm judgment in favor of defendant as against plaintiff Abbott and otherwise reverse and dismiss complaint of remaining plaintiffs.

BREITEL, Justice (dissenting in part).

Plaintiffs, former employees, sued for wrongful discharge. All recovered a verdict for damages against the employer. As to plaintiff Abbott, the verdict was set aside and his complaint dismissed. As to the remaining plaintiffs, judgment was rendered in their favor. Defendant appeals from the judgment in favor of plaintiffs, and plaintiff Abbott appeals from dismissal of his complaint.

The court is in agreement that the disposition as to plaintiff Abbott should not be disturbed. There is disagreement with respect to the recovery in favor of the remaining plaintiffs. The majority has voted to affirm the judgment, while the view expressed herein is that the judgment in favor of plaintiffs should be reversed and their complaints dismissed.

Plaintiffs are a number of supervisory employees, who, under identical written contracts, had been engaged to direct construction work in the rehabilitation of a coal mine in Turkey. The contract is of a kind of overseas employment agreement that has become common in the postwar years. The contract provided

Page 814

for the transportation of the employee and at least one dependent member of his family. It also provided, in addition to extended salary rights, for various arrangements for re-transportation of the employee and the family member in the event the employment ceased, depending upon the ground for such cessation.

After the work commenced in Turkey, plaintiffs, as a body, except for plaintiff Abbott, called on Mr. Stuck, the project manager, made to him complaints concerning safety conditions in the mine and also repeated complaints they had made earlier to the new general superintendent of the project, one Mr. Goodfield. Mr. Stuck, after deliberating on the matter, decided that the men who had called on him should be discharged. When the plaintiff Abbott learned of this, he asked to be discharged too, alining himself with the group that had called on Mr. Stuck.

The issue in the case is whether there was any evidence in the record to support the jury's finding that the men were not discharged in good [141 N.Y.S.2d 895] faith, that is, as a result of a genuine dissatisfaction with the work or conduct of the men, rather than for some other reason not authorized by the contract. It is submitted that there is no such evidence in the record and that the judgment in favor of ...


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