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EDWARDS v. UNITED STATES FID. & GUAR. CO.

March 25, 1994

MARILYN EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES FIDELITY AND GUARANTY COMPANY, Defendant.


Williams


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPENCER WILLIAMS

Plaintiff Marilyn Edwards brought this action against defendant United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company ("USF&G"), alleging various causes of action arising from USF&G's decision to rescind an offer of promotion and transfer she had accepted. USF&G now moves for summary judgment. For the reasons expressed below, USF&G's motion is GRANTED.

 BACKGROUND

 Marilyn Edwards was employed by USF&G as a supervisor/underwriter in the company's San Jose branch office. In April, 1992, Edwards became aware of an opening for a project manager in the company's Information Services Department located in Baltimore, Maryland. Edwards was coincidentally scheduled for training in Baltimore and was interviewed for the position while she was there. A few weeks later, she was orally offered the position, which she accepted. In anticipation of the transfer, Edwards and her husband listed their house for sale and her husband gave notice to his employer that he would be moving to Baltimore.

 After arranging a starting date for the new position, Edwards was involved in an incident with Shawn DuCommun, a commercial lines technician in Edwards' department. According to USF&G, Edwards humiliated DuCommun in front of other employees by talking down to her regarding DuCommun's thoughts about a form DuCommun was helping to prepare. Specifically, USF&G contends that Edwards told DuCommun, "I probably should not say this because you're going to take offense, and it is rude, but, as far as what management requires, I don't care what you think, or the techs think or need."

 Edwards' supervisor, Laura DuBois, observed the incident and, after meeting with two other employees who overheard the conversation, reported what had happened to Al Meier, the San Jose branch manager. Meier and DuBois decided to formally counsel Edwards and place her on 60 days probation, as Edwards had previously been counseled regarding problems communicating with subordinates. In addition, Meier informed the Baltimore office about the incident. Consequently, managers in the Baltimore office rescinded the offer they had made to Edwards.

 Upon receiving word of the rescission, Edwards and her husband removed their house from the market and he advised his employer of the changed circumstances. Mr. Edwards' employer allowed him to withdraw his resignation and he continued to work without losing any time.

 After Edwards enlisted the assistance of an attorney, the company offered to give her a "fresh start" in San Jose by taking her off probation and removing any negative comments about her from her personnel file. Because the offer did not reinstate the promotion and transfer, Edwards refused it.

 Edwards continued to work in her position at the San Jose branch office until April 15, 1993, when she was discharged during a reduction in force. Prior to being discharged, she filed this action, alleging breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She also filed a workers compensation claim related to the last of these causes of action.

 DISCUSSION

 I. LEGAL STANDARD

 A court may grant a motion for summary judgment if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

 1. Burdens

 The moving party bears "the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion . . . ." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The moving party must demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists for trial. Id. at 322. However, the moving party is not required to negate those ...


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