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Skagerberg v. Blandin Paper Co.

266 N.W.2d 872 (1936)

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Skagerberg v. Blandin Paper Co.

Minnesota Supreme Court

266 N.W.2d 872 (1936)

Facts

Rutcher Skagerberg (plaintiff) was a consulting engineer who specialized in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Skagerberg was self-employed and had an established clientele. Blandin Paper Company (Blandin) (defendant) had retained Skagerberg on two occasions to consult on certain projects at a plant Blandin owned. During the second project, the parties discussed the possibility of Skagerberg becoming Blandin’s employee. At the time, Skagerberg was also negotiating with Purdue University for an associate professorship. Skagerberg received an offer from Purdue that required an immediate response, and he telephoned one of Blandin’s officers to discuss the terms of Blandin’s job offer. The Blandin representative agreed that if Skagerberg would reject Purdue’s offer, Blandin would give Skagerberg permanent employment as its power superintendent and mechanical engineer at a rate of pay that was higher than Purdue had offered but considerably lower than Blandin would have had to pay outside consultants for supervising planned improvements to its plant. Skagerberg then declined the Purdue offer and wrote a letter to Blandin confirming the terms discussed in the telephone conversation. The letter reiterated that the job would be a permanent one and also noted that Skagerberg had turned down Purdue’s offer of employment in reliance on Blandin’s representations and that as an accommodation to Blandin’s departing power superintendent, Skagerberg would purchase the superintendent’s house. Skagerberg went to work for Blandin and bought the house. Approximately two years later, Blandin terminated Skagerberg’s employment. Skagerberg sued Blandin for wrongful discharge and breach of contract. The trial court sustained a demurrer to Skagerberg’s complaint, and Skagerberg appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Olson, J.)

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