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Fortune v. National Cash Register Co.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
364 N.E.2d 1251 (1977)


Facts

Orville E. Fortune (plaintiff) was a salesman for the National Cash Register Company (NCR) (defendant). Fortune’s employment contract provided that his employment was terminable at will and that he would be entitled to commissions on sales within his territory. The contract also provided for bonus credits based on the price of products sold in his territory. Fortune would receive 75% of the bonus credits for sales within territory assigned to him at the time the order was placed. Fortune would receive 25% of the bonus credits for sales within territory assigned to him at the time the order was delivered and installed. Fortune would receive 100% of the bonus credits for sales within territory assigned to him at the time the order was placed, delivered, and installed. On November 29, 1968, First National Stores Inc. (First National), a company within Fortune’s territory, purchased about $5 million worth of cash registers, to be delivered over a four-year period. On January 6, 1968, Fortune received a termination notice dated December 2, 1968. Notwithstanding the notice, Fortune was allowed to remain employed in a sales support position. Beginning May or June of 1969, Fortune began receiving commissions representing 75% of the bonus credits for machines that had been delivered and installed to First National. In June 1970, Fortune was terminated. Fortune brought suit to recover unpaid commissions due under his employment contract or, in the alternative, to recover under quantum meruit the reasonable value of his services relating to the First National order. After a jury trial, the Superior Court found in favor of Fortune. The Appeals Court reversed.

Rule of Law

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Holding and Reasoning (Abrams, J.)

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