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Gallon v. Lloyd-Thomas Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
264 F.2d 821 (1959)


In 1949, Gallon (plaintiff) was hired by Lloyd-Thomas Co. (defendant) in a sales capacity. He was promised a 15 percent commission and allowed a weekly draw. In 1952, Gallon was transferred to a different territory where he was less successful. Lloyd-Thomas decreased his draw. On October 12, 1954, Gallon met the president and vice president of Lloyd-Thomas at a hotel. Over the course of a couple hours, the executives told Gallon that he was being investigated by the government for bigamy and that he was likely to be deported to his native England. Gallon had been married four times and never naturalized. The executives told Gallon he was a bad person and made other vexing statements that caused him severe anxiety to the point of breakdown. The executives led Gallon to believe that they would stop the government investigation if Gallon signed a new employment contract. He signed it despite its harsh terms. Gallon continued his employment with Lloyd-Thomas until the company again reduced his weekly draw, in the summer of 1955. During the period between executing the new contract and his resignation, Gallon never complained about or sought to void the agreement even though he was represented by an attorney during such period. In September 1955, he filed suit to rescind or cancel the agreement on the basis of duress. The jury found in Gallon’s favor, but the trial court granted Lloyd-Thomas’s judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the grounds that the contract, though procured through duress, had been ratified by Gallon. He appealed.

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