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HAUPT v. INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER CO.

March 2, 1984

HAROLD HAUPT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER CO. AND MICHAEL MCGRATH, DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Harold Haupt ("Haupt") originally sued International Harvester Company ("IH," his former employer) and Michael McGrath ("McGrath," his former supervisor) in connection with Haupt's discharge from IH's employment. This Court's earlier opinion, 571 F. Supp. 1043 (N.D.Ill. 1983) dismissed IH as a defendant for Haupt's failure to sue within the limitations period of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621-634. That left pending a single state-law count against McGrath, charging tortious interference with Haupt's employment contract.*fn1

McGrath now moves for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56, arguing:

    1. Haupt cannot establish the elements of tortious
  interference with contract under Illinois law.
    2. McGrath was privileged to advise IH to lay off
  Haupt.

McGrath has also moved to strike much of Haupt's evidence for failure to comply with Rule 56's evidentiary standards. McGrath's motion to strike is well taken in part, but his summary judgment motion is denied.

Facts*fn2

IH employed Haupt from October 1964 to November 1980. Beginning in January 1974 Haupt was "pallet pool coordinator" in a two-person department. He monitored the quality of pallet and container parts used in IH's operations and contracted with various suppliers for IH's requirements of those items. McGrath became Haupt's supervisor in October 1977. At McGrath's request Haupt added Jackson, Inc., which later became Buckeye Wood Products (for convenience simply "Buckeye"), as a pallet supplier. McGrath increased Buckeye's share of IH's pallet business until April 1980, when he authorized Buckeye to communicate directly with IH's material suppliers to fulfill their pallet needs. Buckeye's increasing importance as a pallet supplier, and Haupt's complaints about its performance, led to disputes between Haupt and McGrath.

Haupt contends McGrath intentionally and maliciously caused Haupt's discharge to preserve McGrath's improper favoritism toward Buckeye. In support of that view Haupt presents evidence showing:

    1. In May 1978 McGrath caused or approved the
  reduction in Haupt's job classification from Grade 12
  to Grade 6, which did not change his duties or salary
  but made him a prime candidate for layoff. Haupt Aff.
  ¶¶ 31-34.
    2. In April 1980 Haupt wrote a memo to McGrath's
  supervisor Philip Gigliotti ("Gigliotti") opposing
  McGrath's proposal to confer all IH's pallet business
  on Buckeye and to authorize Buckeye's direct
  solicitation of IH's material suppliers. McGrath
  prohibited Haupt from sending future memos without
  prior approval. Haupt Aff. ¶¶ 67-72. Only a few days
  later McGrath gave Haupt the first written
  performance appraisal ever given Haupt during his
  tenure as pallet pool coordinator — and the appraisal
  was substandard (Haupt's prior performance
  evaluations had been favorable). Haupt Aff. ¶¶ 36-38
  and App. E.
    3. McGrath's April 1980 plan, when implemented,
  reduced the importance of Haupt's job and entrenched
  Buckeye as a pallet supplier.
    4. Haupt noted various complaints with Buckeye's
  performance, Haupt Aff. ¶¶ 46-53, and on one occasion
  detailed the defects of one shipment in a memo, Haupt
  Aff. ¶¶ 54-57 and App. O. McGrath advised Haupt not
  to circulate the memo. Haupt Aff. ¶¶ 58-59. Haupt
  noted and reported a whole series of indications of
  dissatisfaction with Buckeye pallets, but McGrath
  never took any action against Buckeye. Haupt Aff. ¶¶
  65-66.
    5. McGrath's superior Gigliotti inquired of McGrath
  about the feasibility of eliminating Haupt's
  position, and McGrath responded May 9, 1980 he did
  not believe the position could be eliminated unless
  he could get a computer to assist him with
  recordkeeping. Robert Andrews ("Andrews") Feb. 3,
  1984 Aff.Ex. B. Shortly thereafter however McGrath
  reversed himself and advised Gigliotti Haupt's
  position could be eliminated. Gigliotti Jan. 23, 1984
  Aff. ¶ 5.
    6. When Haupt was discharged he brought McGrath's
  relationship with Buckeye to the attention of IH's
  management. When confronted with evidence of
  impropriety McGrath resigned. ...

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