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BROWN v. SAFEWAY STORES

December 19, 1960

Frank J. BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
SAFEWAY STORES, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MISHLER

This action is brought by plaintiff for breach of alleged contract of employment. The complaint states four claims as follows:

(1) Breach of a contract for life employment which contract plaintiff alleges was amended to provide for employment until such time as plaintiff attained the age of 65 years. Pursuant to paragraph three of a pre-trial order, made April 22, 1959, the Court directed that the allegations of the claim be interpreted to allege in the alternative, an employment from year-to-year.

 (2) The second stated claim is similarly phrased except that the gravamen alleges that defendant '* * * violated, breached and repudiated * * *' representations and warranties.

 (3) For punitive damages arising out of the facts alleged in claims 1 and 2.

 (4) Breach of contract and violation of representations and warranties set forth in claims 1 and 2 and for punitive damages for the '* * * wilful, vicious, malicious and unlawful acts * * *' in discharging plaintiff.

 The answer generally denies the claims and affirmatively sets forth the following defenses:

 1. The employment was terminable at will.

 2. The employment was terminable for cause.

 3. Payment.

 4. Statute of frauds.

 5. Laches.

 This case together with a companion action William P. Reidy against Safeway Stores, Inc., Civil No. 15373, was tried before the Court without a jury pursuant to the aforementioned pre-trial order.

 Primary Issues

 A. Was an oral contract for life employment entered into, or for any other definite period or term?

 B. Were the agents or employees of the defendant corporation authorized to enter into the alleged contract of employment?

 Facts

 Defendant hereinafter referred to as 'Safeway' is a national food chain, organized under the laws of the State of Maryland, with its principal office in Oakland, California.

 Plaintiff for many years prior to August 1941, was a District Supervisor for a retail food chain known as Daniel Reeves, Inc., hereinafter referred to as 'Reeves'. In August 1941, Safeway merged with Reeves. After the merger, the plaintiff became an employee of Safeway, performing substantially the same work under the title of District Manager. On ...


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