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PARR v. TRIPLETT CORP.

September 27, 1989

EDWARD M. PARR, Plaintiff,
v.
TRIPLETT CORPORATION, Defendant


Marvin E. Aspen, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:

 Plaintiff Edward M. Parr brings this diversity action against his former employer defendant Triplett Corporation. Parr seeks recovery for the tort of retaliatory discharge. Each party has filed a motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, we deny both of these motions.

 Background

 Edward Parr was first employed by Triplett in December 1985 as an operations manager at Alltest, a division of Triplett. He was promoted to Vice President of Sales in October 1986. Parr was an employee "at-will"; his employment was pursuant to an oral contract with no stated duration.

 Parr's supervisor at Alltest was Jack Paul. According to Parr, Paul engaged in various activities designed to defraud Alltest. In their respective motions, the parties focus on one scheme in particular. Paul, along with an Alltest salesman and distributor, allegedly created a company known as Automotive Equipment Services ("AES"). Paul would allegedly divert orders intended for Alltest to AES. In this manner, Paul obtained sale profits that rightfully belonged to Alltest. Parr argues that this scheme "crossed the line into overt criminal activity, namely conspiracy, theft, mail and wire fraud."

 Paul allegedly described the scheme to Parr and asked him to participate. Parr refused to take part in the AES distributorship. Instead, Parr decided to inform Triplett management officials of the AES scheme, as well as Paul's other "dubious" activities.

 As a result of Parr's report, Triplett investigated Paul's alleged criminal activities. Triplett states that it found no significant improprieties and decided to take no action against Paul. However, subsequent to making his report, Parr was discharged by Triplett.

 Parr maintains that he was discharged because he refused to participate in the criminal scheme and reported Paul's activities to management. Triplett claims that Parr's termination was unrelated to his report or relationship with Paul. Triplett explains that Parr was discharged because upper management was overstaffed and because Parr had failed to generate increased sales activity.

 Standard of Review

 "A motion for summary judgment should be granted only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Checkers, Simon & Rosner v. Lurie Corp., 864 F.2d 1338 (7th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). The moving party bears the burden of establishing the absence of any disputed facts. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). If, however, the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving an issue at trial, it also bears the burden of presenting sufficient facts on summary judgment from which a trier of fact could find in its favor, and the moving party need only "[point] out to the District Court . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. 106 S. Ct. at 2554; Beard v. Whitley County REMC, 840 F.2d 405, 410 (7th Cir. 1988). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must read all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2513, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986); Richardson v. Penfold, 839 F.2d 392, 394 (7th Cir. 1988).

 Discussion

 There are three elements of a cause of action for retaliatory discharge under Illinois law. *fn1" First, an employee must establish that she has been discharged. Second, the employee must prove that the discharge was in retaliation for her activities. Finally, a plaintiff must show that the discharge violates a clear mandate of public policy. Hinthorn v. Roland's of Bloomington, 119 Ill.2d 526, 519 N.E.2d 909, 911, 116 Ill. Dec. 694 (1988); Palmateer v. International Harvester Co., 85 Ill.2d 124, 421 N.E.2d 876, 878, 52 Ill. Dec. 13 (1981).

 Triplett argues that Parr has not established that his discharge violates a clear mandate of public policy, even if Parr's allegations are accepted as true for the purposes of Triplett's motion. When Parr learned of the allegedly criminal scheme, he reported the wrongdoing solely to Triplett officials. Triplett states that, under Illinois law, public policy would only be implicated if Parr was discharged after reporting the wrongdoing to law enforcement officials. According to Triplett, a ...


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