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The Wisconsin Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to reinstate a $26.6 million verdict against Miller Brewing Co. and two Miller employees in an action brought by a former Miller worker who was fired after discussing a racy episode of “Seinfeld” with a co-worker. The court affirmed the previous reversal of the verdict by the Wisconsin State Court of Appeals, agreeing that plaintiff Jerold Mackenzie had no valid tort cause of action in charging Miller and a Miller executive with intentional misrepresentation of his job status prior to his dismissal. The supreme court found that recognizing such a cause of action would be a violation of Wisconsin’s employment-at-will doctrine and would have “profound economic ramifications.” The precipitating incident in the case — which drew national attention — occurred in March 1993 when Mackenzie discussed with co-worker Patricia Best an episode of “Seinfeld,” in which star Jerry Seinfeld could not remember the name of a woman he was dating. He could only remember the woman’s name rhymed with a female body part. Best informed Mackenzie that she was embarrassed by the discussion and later made a formal complaint of sexual harassment. “She never asked that he be fired,” said Miller appellate counsel Frank J. Daily of Milwaukee’s Quarles & Brady. Mackenzie sued Miller, charging wrongful termination and intentional misrepresentation. He also sued Miller executive Robert L. Smith for intentional misrepresentation and tortious interference and Best for tortious interference. The wrongful-termination claim was dismissed before trial and the primary claim was that Miller and Smith had lied to Mackenzie before the dismissal about the status of his employment. The plaintiff charged that had he been fully informed of his status, he would have left Miller long before the “Seinfeld” incident. In July 1997, a Milwaukee jury awarded Mackenzie $26.6 million, which was eventually reduced to $24.7 million. The defense concentrated the appeal on the claim that there was no cause of action and that even if there were a cause of action, there was no misrepresentation. The appellate court reversed in February 2000, as a matter of law. The plaintiff may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, said his attorney, Michael Whitcomb of Milwaukee.

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