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Gardner v. Loomis Armored, Inc.

Supreme Court of Washington
913 P.2d 377 (Wash. 1996)


Facts

Kevin Gardner (plaintiff) was the guard and driver of an armored car for Loomis Armored, Inc. (Loomis) (defendant). Pursuant to strict company policy, armored-car drivers were forbidden from leaving their cars unattended. The purpose of this rule was to protect both the driver and the driver’s partner, who was responsible for entering businesses to make pickups or deliveries. A violation of this rule was punishable by termination. On March 10, 1994, Gardner and his partner, Steffon Sobosky, stopped at Seafirst Bank. Sobosky entered the bank while Gardner remained in the truck. Gardner subsequently saw the bank’s manager run out of the bank screaming for help and being pursued by a man with a knife. As the man and the manager passed Gardner’s car, Gardner exited the car to assist the manager. The manager was able to reach safety, at which point the man grabbed another woman who was walking into the bank. Gardner followed the man and woman into the bank and, together with Sobosky, disarmed the man. Pursuant to company policy, Loomis terminated Gardner’s employment for leaving the armored car unattended. Gardner sued Loomis in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, claiming that his discharge was wrongful and in violation of public policy. The district court certified to the Supreme Court of Washington the question of whether an employer violates public policy by terminating an at-will employee who violates the employer’s rule to assist a person in danger of serious physical injury or death.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Dolliver, J.)

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Concurrence (Guy, J.)

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Dissent (Madsen, J.)

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