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Geary v. United States Steel Corp.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

September 26, 1972, Argued ; March 25, 1974, Decided

No. 3, March T., 1973

Opinion

 [*173]   [**175]  This appeal comes to us from an order of the trial court sustaining appellee's preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer and dismissing with prejudice appellant's amended complaint in trespass. The Superior Court affirmed per curiam, without opinion, and we granted allocatur to consider the novel and farreaching arguments advanced by appellant in support of his alleged cause of action. 1

 [***2]  The complaint avers that appellant, George B. Geary, was continuously employed by appellee, United States Steel Corporation (hereinafter "company"), from 1953 until July 13, 1967, when he was dismissed from his position. Geary's duties involved the sale of tubular products to the oil and gas industry. His employment was at will. The dismissal is said to have stemmed from a disagreement concerning one of the company's new products, a tubular casing designed for use under high pressure. Geary alleges that he believed the product had not been adequately tested and constituted a serious danger to anyone who used it; that he voiced his misgivings to his superiors and was ordered to "follow directions", which he agreed to do; that he nevertheless continued to express his reservations, taking his case to a vice-president in charge of sale of the product; that as a result of his efforts the product was reevaluated and withdrawn from the  [*174]  market; that he at all times performed his duties to the best of his ability and always acted with the best interests of the company and the general public in mind; and that because of these events he was summarily discharged without notice.  [***3]  Geary asserts that the company's conduct in so acting was "wrongful, malicious and abusive," resulting in injury to his reputation in the industry, mental anguish, and direct financial harm, for which he seeks both punitive and compensatory damages. 2

] The case having been dismissed on a demurrer, all properly pleaded facts are taken as admitted for the purpose of testing the sufficiency of the complaint. Balsbaugh v. Rowland, 447 Pa. 423, 290 A.2d 85 (1972); Engel v. Parkway Co., 439 Pa. 559, 266 A.2d 685 (1970); Fawcett v. Monongahela R. Co., 391 Pa. 134, 137 A.2d 768 (1958). 3

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456 Pa. 171 *; 319 A.2d 174 **; 1974 Pa. LEXIS 511 ***; 115 L.R.R.M. 4665

Geary, Appellant, v. United States Steel Corporation

Subsequent History:  [***1]  Reargument Refused May 29, 1974.

Prior History: Appeal from order of Superior Court, April T., No. 513, affirming order of Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, April T., 1971, No. 1920, in case of George B. Geary v. United States Steel Corporation.

Disposition: Order affirmed.

CORE TERMS

employees, cause of action, discharged, public policy, wrongful discharge, courts, termination, withdrawn, cases, notice, circumstances, malicious, products, employment relationship, specific intent, best interest, without cause, steel pipe, motive, suits, business relationship, retaliatory discharge, legitimate interest, employment at will, dangerous product, personnel, parties

Civil Procedure, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Demurrers, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Labor & Employment Law, Employment Relationships, At Will Employment, General Overview, Real Property Law, Estates, Future Interests, Torts, Business Torts, Duration of Employment, Exceptions, Tort Exceptions, Public Policy Violations, Wrongful Termination, Public Policy