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Hillesland v. Federal Land Bank Association of Grand Forks

Supreme Court of North Dakota
407 N.W.2d 206 (1987)


Facts

Hillesland (plaintiff) was a long-term senior employee of Federal Land Bank Association of Grand Forks (Association) (defendant). Through his position, Hillesland learned that Ray and Eva Westby, customers of the Association, wanted to sell their property to a third party. Hillesland contacted the Westbys to offer financial counseling. Through a series of events, the Westbys ended up selling their property to Hillesland’s sons. The Federal Land Bank of St. Paul (the Bank) (defendant) launched an investigation of the circumstances based on an apparent conflict of interest cause by Hillesland. When the investigation concluded, the Bank informed Hillesland that his employment was being terminated because he had violated written standards of conduct, had damaged the image and reputation of the Association and the Bank, and had exercised poor business judgment. Hillesland brought suit in North Dakota state court alleging violation of provisions of the Farm Credit Act, breach of contract, age discrimination, and tortious interference by the Bank with Hillesland’s employment contract with the Association. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Association and the Bank on all of Hillesland’s claims. Hillesland appealed. On appeal, the appellate court first dismissed all Hillesland’s claims involving the Farm Credit Act, age discrimination, and tortious interference by the Bank with Hillesland’s employment contract. The appellate court then considered in depth Hillesland’s breach of contract claim.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Erickstad, C.J.)

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Dissent (Pederson, J.)

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