Business Law Term Paper
Bell Microproducts Inc.
284 F.3d 86 (Massachusetts)
ISSUE OF THE CASE
Bell Microproducts, Inc. mailed to McGurn an offer of employment that stated that if McGurn were terminated without cause during the first 12 months of employment, he would receive a severance package of $120,000. McGurn crossed out 12 and replaced it with 24, and signed the contract. Bell did not acknowledge the change that had been made to the contract and hired the applicant. McGurn was terminated without cause 13 months later.
Bell Microproducts is a distributor of semiconductor parts and components with headquarters in San Jose, California. McGurn is a resident of Massachusetts. In March of 1997, Bell's President, Donald Bell, met with …show more content…
The Human Resources Department did receive the letter, but Teague testified that she herself would only have been notified if the letter had not been received, as McGurn could not have been paid unless a countersigned copy of the offer letter was in Bell's files. Although there is no direct evidence that anyone in the Human Resources Department examined the returned letter, there was evidence that it was Bell's practice to check that returned offer letters had been signed by the employee.
In or around April of 1998, Brian Clark (Murphy's successor at Bell) concluded that McGurn's performance was not satisfactory. At some point after Clark made this determination, but before he fired McGurn on August 3, 1998, Murphy discovered McGurn's alteration of the offer letter, and discussed it with Teague and Donald Bell. Upon learning of his termination on August 3, 1998, after approximately 13 months at Bell, McGurn conveyed to Clark his belief that his contract included a two-year termination clause. Clark disagreed, and Bell refused to pay the amounts specified in the termination clause.
McGurn sued Bell for breach of contract in the Superior Court of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Based on diversity of citizenship, Bell removed the case to federal district court. The parties filed