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Janes v. Blodgett

filed: April 3, 1992.

ROBERT B. JANES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
J. ALAN BLODGETT, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. D.C. No. CV-89-838-JU. Owen M. Panner, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Hall, O'scannlain, and Leavy, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM

J. Alan Blodgett was the President and CEO of American Savings and Loan Association ("American"). He discharged Robert B. Janes, an American vice-president. Janes brought this action alleging that Blodgett interfered with Janes' contractual and economic interests with American. The district court granted summary judgment to Blodgett, and Janes appeals.

I

To prevail against Blodgett's summary judgment motion, Janes is required to come forward with sufficient evidence demonstrating to the district court that there were genuine issues of material fact to be decided by a trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e).

Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, . . . against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be "no genuine issue as to any material fact," since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

We are not persuaded that Janes presented sufficient evidence demonstrating disputed issues of fact requiring a trial in this case; Janes merely offered his own allegations and theories regarding Blodgett's motive and means. Cf. Foster v. Arcata Associates, Inc., 772 F.2d 1453, 1459 (9th Cir. 1985) ("Mere assertions of discriminatory motive and intent, however, are inadequate."), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1048 (1986). He failed "to make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine dispute of fact with respect to the existence of [an] element" of his claim. California Architectural Bldg. Products, Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, Inc., 818 F.2d 1466, 1468 (9th Cir. 1987), cert denied, 484 U.S. 1006 (1988). Janes failed to establish an essential element of his claim that Blodgett acted out of an improper motive or used improper means.

Blodgett's motion and the supporting evidence demonstrated the absence of genuine issues of fact for trial. Janes was then required to "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Janes did not produce evidence showing the existence of controverted genuine issues. Hence, summary judgment for Blodgett was appropriate.

II

Assuming arguendo that there were genuine issues of fact as to whether Blodgett interfered with Janes' contract, we would then be required to decide whether Blodgett's interference was privileged. Top Serv. Body Shop, Inc. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 582 P.2d 1365, 1371 (Or. 1978). Oregon defines the privilege: "So long as the person inducing the breach of a corporate contract is an officer or employe [sic] acting for the benefit of the corporation and within the scope of his authority, the plaintiff cannot . . . maintain an interference with contract action." Wampler v. Palmerton, 439 P.2d 601, 607 (Or. 1968) [footnote omitted].

A. Scope of Authority

As the President and CEO, Blodgett was acting within the scope of his employment in discharging one of American's employees. Furthermore, Blodgett cautiously sought and secured the approval of the Board and the federal regulators before firing Janes. American's Board voted unanimously to allow Blodgett to fire Janes because it was in American's ...


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