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GASS v. NATIONAL CONTAINER CORPORATION

March 11, 1959

WILLIAM J. GASS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATIONAL CONTAINER CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, AND LEONARD MOORE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Poos, District Judge.

I.

The plaintiff, William J. Gass, filed a complaint consisting of three counts against National Container Corporation and Leonard Moore, defendants.

The first count charges that the plaintiff had a written contract of employment for a period of five years from September 1, 1952 to August 31, 1957, in which the, plaintiff was to perform services as a salesman and sales manager for defendant. The contract had an automatic renewal clause for an additional five years, from the termination date or any renewal, thereof. This contract could be cancelled, by written notice of intention not to renew sent by registered mail at least six, months prior to the then termination date.

The plaintiff alleges in Count I that the, contract was executed in the City of New York, and to be carried out within the metropolitan St. Louis, Missouri territory, and that the contract was automatically renewed on August 31, 1957, and the obligations thereunder were performed by plaintiff until on or about September 19, 1957, at which time defendants discharged plaintiff in breach of the contract.

The further allegation is that on July 29, 1957, defendants, National Container Corporation and Leonard Moore, a Vice President thereof, desiring to cancel said contract and to dispense with the services of plaintiff, falsely and fraudulently represented to plaintiff that it was unnecessary for him to have the security of written contract to work for defendants; that plaintiff would have a job with defendants as long as plaintiff lived and wanted it, and that if he, plaintiff, would cancel and physically surrender his duplicate original of said written contract defendants would then and there simultaneously, with the surrender of the written contract, employ plaintiff, under all the terms and conditions as contained in said written contract, for as long as plaintiff shall live and for so long as defendant, Leonard Moore should be an employee of the defendant, National Container Corporation; that defendant Leonard Moore was an officer and Vice President of defendant corporation and was highly placed in the management and direction of the Corporation; that he was in charge of the entire central division which included the Madison Division where plaintiff was employed, and was the person to whom plaintiff was directly responsible; that plaintiff had a right to believe and rely on the truth of the representations so made by defendant; that plaintiff did believe and rely on the truth of said statements and representations, and so believing did on or about July 29, 1957, in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, cancel said written contract and physically surrender his duplicate original to defendants in accordance with the statements and representations so made to him; that the representations made to plaintiff were false and fraudulent and were known by defendants to be false and fraudulent at the time they were made, and were made by defendants with the intention and purpose of inducing plaintiff to cancel and surrender his written contract, which he did; that plaintiff did not know said statements were false, but believed in them and believed them to be true, and that defendants, after the surrender and on September 17, 1957, orally discharged the plaintiff; that all the statements and representations of defendants were made deliberately, wilfully, intentionally and maliciously.

The complaint prayed judgment for actual damages and punitive damages in the amount of $100,000.00 each.

II.

Count II of the Complaint alleges for cause of action breach of the contract, the pertinent provisions of which are as follows:

    ¶ 1 "The said employer hereby hires the said employee, who
  hereby accepts such employment, as a salesman within the
  Metropolitan St. Louis territory, of the corrugated and solid
  fibre paper products manufactured and dealt in by the said
  employer, its subsidiaries and affiliates, for the term and
  period of five (5) years commencing September 1, 1952, and
  terminating August 31, 1957."
    ¶ 4 "(a) For the services to be rendered by the said employee
  hereunder, the said employer shall pay to the said employee
  selling commissions calculated at the following rates upon
  the net amount of all sales personally effected by the said
  employee, the term `net sales' being defined herein as the
  gross amount of all invoices less appropriate deductions for
  freight, discounts, allowances and bad debts.

On the first $100,000.00 of net sales —

Four Per Cent (4%)

On the second $100,000.00 of net ...


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