Morgan v. American University

534 A.2d 323 (1987)

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Morgan v. American University

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
534 A.2d 323 (1987)

Facts

Phillip Morgan (plaintiff) was hired by American University (AU) (defendant) as an assistant professor on a tenure track. After three consecutive one-year appointments, AU learned that Morgan was a full-time professor at another university, a fact that he did not disclose during his appointment process. Morgan’s one-year contract was immediately rescinded. AU did not conduct a hearing as required by § 19 of the faculty manual, which provided that adequate cause had to be shown if a faculty member was terminated before the end of his or her contract. The faculty manual defined adequate cause as something related to a professor’s fitness or performance. Morgan filed a breach-of-contract claim against AU, contending that AU was required to afford him a hearing, as required by his contract. AU argued that it had the right to rescind his contract because Morgan made a material misrepresentation prior to its formation. A jury returned a verdict for AU, finding that AU had shown that it had a right to rescind the contract and, therefore, Morgan was not entitled to any protections afforded by his contract. Morgan filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which was denied. Morgan then appealed, arguing that, as a matter of law, the contract language, which included § 19 of the faculty manual, was unambiguous and afforded him the right to a hearing.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Steadman, J.)

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