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Feinberg v. Pfeiffer Co.

Missouri Court of Appeals
322 S.W.2d 163 (1959)


Facts

Feinberg (plaintiff) was an employee of Pfeiffer Co. (Pfeiffer) (defendant) for thirty-nine years. Feinberg acquired significant amounts of stock during her tenure and received large bonuses in addition to her salary in her later years of employment. Two years before her retirement, Pfeiffer’s board of directors adopted a resolution designed to thank Feinberg for her years of service to the company. Her salary was increased from $350.00 per month to $400.00 per month. Upon retiring, Feinberg would be paid $200.00 per month for life. The terms of the resolution did not change Feinberg’s ability to retire or leave her position at will, however, or Pfeiffer’s ability to discharge her at any time. On the day the resolution was passed, Feinberg was informed by Pfeiffer’s president of her new salary increase and lifetime pension. Feinberg then continued her employment with Pfeiffer for an additional two years, at which time she retired. She immediately began receiving payments of $200.00 per month pursuant to the resolution. A few months after Feinberg’s retirement, Pfeiffer’s president died and was succeeded by his widow and then his son-in-law. Both successors viewed the payments to Feinberg as unnecessary gifts, and ultimately decided to reduce the payments to $100 per month. Feinberg declined to accept the reduced amount, and brought suit to enforce the former Pfeiffer president’s promise. The trial court ruled for Feinberg and awarded damages. Pfeiffer appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Doerner, Commissioner)

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