Demoinerie v.  Emball’iso

$675,000 Verdict

Date of Verdict:

Oct. 25.

Court and Case No.:

Philadelphia CP 160403190.

Judge:

Ann M. Butchart.

Type of Action:

Wrongful termination.

Injuries:

Loss of employment.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Lawrence R. Woehrle of Bodell Bove, Berwyn.

Defense Counsel:

Sean P. McDevitt, Pepper Hamilton, Philadelphia.

Comment:

A French citizen who moved to the United States from China and was terminated shortly after the packaging plant he worked in relocated from Shanghai to Philadelphia has been awarded $675,000 in his case against the company.

After a four-day trial in front of Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Ann M. Butchart and an hour-and-a-half of deliberations, a Philadelphia jury on Oct. 25 handed up the award to Julien Demoinerie, who worked as a plant manager at defendant Emball’iso’s Shanghai production plant.

Emball’iso, a manufacturer of temperature-controlled packaging for use in shipping pharmaceuticals, closed down the plant in Shanghai and relocated to Philadelphia. According to Demoinerie’s court papers, Demoinerie and his wife moved to the United States after obtaining visas, but after only three months of work, he was terminated.

The company claimed that Demoinerie was an at-will employee and acknowledged that he could be terminated at any time.

However, Demoinerie’s lawyer said that was no excuse for cutting Demoinerie so soon after arriving in a new country.

“‘At will’ employee defense isn’t the suit of armor that many employers believe,” Lawrence R. Woehrle of Bodell Bove said. “An employer who induces someone to leave a current job and relocate should be cognizant of what that potential employee is sacrificing, because implied breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation are extraordinarily viable theories for recovery.”

Sean P. McDevitt of Pepper Hamilton represented the defendant and did not return a call seeking comment.

According to Demoinerie’s court papers, the former plant manager’s job prospects in the United States outside of Emball’iso were slim.

Since the terms of Demoinerie’s visa only allowed to work in Emball’iso’s Philadelphia factory his “alternate employment opportunities in the United States were limited solely to a senior management position in one of the relatively few United States companies which were at least 50 percent French-owned,” court papers said.

Demoinerie now lives in France and is unemployed.

Emball’iso’s pretrial memorandum claimed that Demoinerie was fired because he failed to complete assignments and did not get along with upper management.

The company also alleged that he signed into an agreement with his eyes open to the fact that he could be terminated how and when the company saw fit.