Wesson v. Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, LLC
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 9/25/2015. (KEK)
2015 Sep-28 AM 08:53
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
KAREN E. WESSON,
Case No.: 2:12-CV-02818-MHH
In this fraud and breach of contract action, plaintiff Karen Wesson alleges
that the defendant, Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, LLC, made promises to her to
induce her to leave her job as a pharmacist at K-Mart and then broke those
promises. Based on her discussions with a Walgreens’s pharmacy supervisor, Ms.
Wesson anticipated that if she accepted a position with Walgreens, she would
become the pharmacy manager at the store that Walgreens planned to open in
Chelsea, Alabama. When the Chelsea store opened, the Walgreens pharmacy
supervisor decided to hire someone other than Ms. Wesson as the store’s pharmacy
manager. Ms. Wesson worked at various Walgreens stores until she eventually
became the Chelsea pharmacy manager in 2010. In August 2010, Ms. Wesson
surrendered her pharmacy license following an investigation by the Alabama State
Board of Pharmacy.
Walgreens terminated Ms. Wesson shortly afterwards
because she no longer could work as a pharmacist in Alabama.
Ms. Wesson alleges that Walgreens breached her contract and committed
fraud by not offering her the position of pharmacy manager at the Chelsea location
when that store first opened and by not paying her certain income, including a
pharmacy manager bonus.
(Doc. 10, pp. 9–10).1
Walgreens has moved for
summary judgment on Ms. Wesson’s claims. For the reasons discussed below, the
Court grants the motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). To demonstrate that there is a genuine
dispute as to a material fact that precludes summary judgment, a party opposing a
Ms. Wesson’s amended complaint also contains an FLSA claim against Walgreens. Ms.
Wesson concedes that she is not entitled to relief on that claim because as a professional
employee, she was exempt from overtime pay. (Doc. 28, p. 23). The Court will dismiss with
prejudice Ms. Wesson’s FLSA claim. The only remaining claims are Alabama state law claims
for breach of contract and fraud.
The Court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over these state law claims, but the
Court has discretion to and will retain jurisdiction over Ms. Wesson’s breach of contract and
fraud claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367; Camp v. City of Pelham, --- Fed. Appx. ----, 2015 WL 5042720,
at *3, n.8 (11th Cir. 2015) (“The district court had federal question jurisdiction based on the
FLSA claim, and it exercised supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. 28 U.S.C. §
1367(a). When the FLSA claim settled, and only the state law claims remained, the district court
could have declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C., but it had discretion to
and did retain jurisdiction.”) (citing Palmer v. Hosp. Auth. of Randolph Cnty., 22 F.3d 1559,
1568 (11th Cir. 1994)). Because of the age of this case, the Court retains jurisdiction over Ms.
Wessons’s state law claims.
motion for summary judgment must cite “to particular parts of materials in the
record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information,
affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the
motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(c)(1)(A). When considering a summary judgment motion, the Court must
view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and must draw reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. White v.
Beltram Edge Tool Supply, Inc., 789 F.3d 1188, 1191 (11th Cir. 2015). “The court
need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the
record.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3).
Ms. Wesson worked at K-Mart from 2003 until 2007. (Doc. 26-1, p. 9).
When she left K-Mart in August 2007 to work for Walgreens, she was a pharmacy
manager at the K-Mart store in Pell City, Alabama. (Doc. 26-1, p. 9). K-Mart’s
2007 Separation Report states that Wesson’s final salary at K-Mart was $2170.00
per week. (Doc. 26-3, p. 32).2 According to K-Mart’s records, Ms. Wesson lost
her job at the company because she did not return to work following a medical
leave of absence. (Doc. 26-1, p. 10; Doc. 26-3, p. 32).
The report that Sears Holdings HR Support Center issued confirms Ms. Wesson’s K-Mart
salary. The report states that when Ms. Wesson left K-Mart, she was earning $54.23 per hour.
(Doc. 26-3, p. 3). If Ms. Wesson worked a forty-hour week, she would have been earning
$2,169.20 per week.
Ms. Wesson applied to Walgreens in 2007. (Doc. 26-1, pp. 9–10; Doc. 26-3,
p. 4). Walgreens sent Ms. Wesson an automated email, electronically signed by
pharmacy supervisor Tammie Koelz, to request a meeting to discuss employment
opportunities at Walgreens. (Doc. 26-9, p. 17).3 A Walgreens recruiter arranged a
meeting between Ms. Wesson and Melissa Cochran, the pharmacy supervisor for
the Birmingham North District. (Doc. 26-1, pp. 11–12).
At that meeting, Ms.
Wesson expressed her interest in working at the store that Walgreens was building
in Chelsea if she could “get enough money.” Ms. Wesson acknowledges that the
Chelsea store was not in the district that Ms. Cochran supervised. Instead, Tammie
Koelz supervised that district, and Ms. Wesson did not talk to Ms. Koelz before
Ms. Wesson accepted a job with Walgreens. (Doc. 26-1, p. 12).
On July 25, 2007, Ms. Cochran provided a written job offer to Ms. Wesson
for a position as a pharmacy manager in Walgreens’s Birmingham North District.
(Doc. 26-3, p. 4). The written offer states that Ms. Wesson would earn $4,645.00
biweekly. (Doc. 26-3, p. 4). The offer included a $20,000 incentive bonus, but
provided that Ms. Wesson would have to forfeit the bonus if she worked for
Walgreens for less than two years. (Doc. 26-3, p. 6). The offer letter stated:
“[y]ou should not consider our offer of employment to be a contract or guarantee
Ms. Koelz explained that a recruiter working in the Birmingham office created the email.
(Doc. 26-6, p. 21).
of indefinite employment. Employment at Walgreens is at will, is for no definite
term, and is subject to Walgreens policies, which can be changed from time to
time.” (Doc. 26-3, p. 4). Ms. Wesson signed the offer letter on July 27, 2007.
(Doc. 26-1, pp. 30–31).
Ms. Wesson acknowledges that Walgreens hired her to work at the Pell
City location, which at that time was in the Birmingham North District under the
supervision of Melissa Cochran. (Doc. 26-1, pp. 12, 21). Ms. Wesson contends
though, based on the conversation she had with Ms. Cochran when she interviewed
with Walgreens, that she understood that she eventually would become the
pharmacy manager of the Chelsea store. Ms. Wesson explained:
[while Ms. Cochran] wasn’t actually the supervisor for the South, 
[Ms. Cochran and Ms. Koelz] did hire for each other, and  [Ms.
Cochran] would be talking to [Ms. Koelz] and that, once [Ms.
Cochran] found out what dollar amount she could get approved, that
she would let me know, but that she definitely wanted to hire me as
pharmacy manager for [the Chelsea] store.
(Doc. 26-1, p. 12). Ms. Cochran remembers that when she and Ms. Wesson met,
Ms. Wesson mentioned her interest in working at the Chelsea location when it
opened, but Ms. Cochran denies that she promised the position to Ms. Wesson.
(Doc. 26-8, p. 35).
While training at the Doug Baker store shortly after starting at Walgreens,
Ms. Wesson met Ms. Koelz. (Doc. 26-6, p. 12). Ms. Wesson told Ms. Koelz that
she (Ms. Wesson) expected to become the pharmacy manager at the Chelsea store
when it opened. (Doc. 26-1, p. 15). Ms. Koelz told Ms. Wesson that Walgreens
had not decided who it would hire as the Chelsea pharmacy manager, but Ms.
Wesson could apply for the position. (Doc. 26-6, p. 12). Ms. Wesson told Ms.
Koelz that Ms. Cochran had discussed the Chelsea position with her. (Doc. 26-6,
p. 12). According to her deposition testimony, Ms. Koelz told Ms. Wesson that
Ms. Cochran did not have the authority to place Ms. Wesson in a pharmacy
manager position in a store outside of Ms. Cochran’s district. (Doc. 26-6, p. 12).
Ms. Wesson testified, based on her limited memory of the conversation, that Ms.
Koelz “didn’t mention the Chelsea store at all,” but that she responded to Ms.
Wesson’s assertion that Cochran had hired her to eventually become the pharmacy
manager at the Chelsea Store by “reassur[ing] [Ms. Wesson] that [Ms. Koelz]
would have hired [Ms. Wesson] anyway and that she would let [Ms. Wesson]
know what [Ms. Koelz] could do.” (Doc. 26-1, p. 15).
Shortly after Ms. Wesson began working for Walgreens, she became a
“floater.” (Doc. 28, p. 9). A floating pharmacist worked in various stores in a
particular geographical location covering for pharmacists who were out on leave.
(Doc. 26-6, p. 7). In September 2007, Ms. Wesson emailed Ms. Cochran to
express her displeasure at having “been put on market scheduling as a floater
instead of the pharmacy manager at Pell City like we discussed.” (Doc. 26-3, p.
12). Ms. Wesson also complained about her vacation time and her limited work
hours as a floater. (Doc. 26-3, p. 12). Walgreens paid Ms. Wesson $4,645
biweekly when she was a floater, the amount that Walgreens stated it would pay
Ms. Wesson in her written job offer. ((Doc. 26-3, p. 4; Doc. 26-10, ¶ 5).
In October 2007, Walgreens moved the Pell City store from the Birmingham
North District to the Birmingham South District, and Ms. Koelz became Ms.
Wesson’s pharmacy supervisor. (Doc. 26-6, p. 6). At some point in October 2007,
Ms. Wesson told Ms. Koelz that she did not want to be a floating pharmacist. Ms.
Koelz informed Ms. Wesson that she would have to wait for a permanent position
to open up. (Doc. 26-6, pp. 6, 14). Ms. Wesson reminded Ms. Koelz that she (Ms.
Wesson) wanted to be the pharmacy manager at the Chelsea Walgreens when the
store opened. (Doc. 26-6, p. 14).
In December 2007, Ms. Koelz asked Ms. Wesson to work at the Pelham
store to fill a vacancy left by a staff pharmacist who was on medical leave. (Doc.
26-6, p. 6). Ms. Wesson agreed. (Doc. 26-6, p. 6). While Ms. Wesson worked at
the Pelham store, Walgreens paid her $4,520.00 biweekly, rather than $4,645.00
biweekly, the salary amount in Ms. Wesson’s job offer letter. (Doc. 26-6, p. 6;
Doc. 26-10, ¶ 5). According to Ms. Koelz, the Pelham store paid its employees on
a pay scale different from the pay scale at the Pell City store for which Ms.
Cochran had hired Ms. Wesson to work. (Doc. 26-6, p. 6). Walgreens paid
Wesson the lower biweekly amount from December 2007 until June 2008. (Doc.
26-10, ¶ 5).
When Walgreens opened its Chelsea store in April 2008, Ms. Koelz and
another Walgreens store supervisor chose someone other than Ms. Wesson to be
the pharmacy manager at the store. (Doc. 26-1, pp. 32–33). Ms. Koelz offered
Ms. Wesson the option of either becoming the pharmacy manager at Walgreens’s
Sylacauga store or working as a staff pharmacist at Walgreens’s Chelsea store.
(Doc. 26-6, p. 18). Ms. Wesson chose to work as a staff pharmacist at the Chelsea
store. (Doc. 26-6, p. 18).4 In June 2008, Walgreens increased Ms. Wesson’s pay
to $4715.00 biweekly. (Doc. 26-10, ¶ 5). Sometime before January 29, 2009, Ms.
Koelz offered and Ms. Wesson declined the pharmacy manager position at
Walgreens’s Bessemer store. (Doc. 26-1, pp. 26–27). Ms. Wesson remained at the
Chelsea store. Walgreens increased Ms. Wesson’s pay to $4,895.00 biweekly in
June 2009. (Doc. 26-10, ¶ 5).
In the summer of 2009, Ms. Koelz asked Ms. Wesson to move from Chelsea
to the Sylacauga store as the pharmacy manager. (Doc. 26-1, pp. 27–29). This
time, Ms. Wesson agreed to move. (Doc. 26-6, p. 18). Ms. Koelz agreed to allow
Ms. Wesson to transfer back to her staff pharmacist position in Chelsea after two
While she worked as a staff pharmacist at the Chelsea store, Ms. Wesson was coded in
Walgreens’s system as a pharmacy manager, and she received pharmacy manager pay. Ms.
Wesson did not have pharmacy manager responsibilities while she worked at the Chelsea store.
(Doc. 26-6, p. 18).
months of working in Sylacauga. (Doc. 26-1, p. 28).5 Ms. Wesson returned to the
Chelsea store in February 2010 as a pharmacy manager. (Doc. 26-1, p. 7; Doc. 262, p. 21; Doc. 26-6, p. 19).
Ms. Wesson voluntarily surrendered her pharmacy license in August 2010 in
response to an investigation by the Alabama Board of Pharmacy.
investigation concerned whether Ms. Wesson had violated Alabama law by filling
her own prescriptions without authorization. (Doc. 26-4, pp. 3–6). The Alabama
Board of Pharmacy issued a final order suspending Ms. Wesson’s license to
practice pharmacy and requiring her to pay a fine in June 2011. (Doc. 26-4, pp. 2–
After surrendering her license, Ms. Wesson could no longer work as a
pharmacist in Alabama.
(Doc. 26-4, pp. 1–10).
Walgreens terminated her
employment in August 2010. (Doc. 26-2, pp. 21–22).
Ms. Wesson filed this
lawsuit on August 27, 2012. (Doc. 1).
The statute of limitations bars Ms. Wesson’s fraud claim.
Under Alabama law, the statute of limitations for a fraud claim is two years
from the date a claim accrues. A claim “must not be considered as having accrued
until the discovery by the aggrieved party of the fact constituting the fraud, after
Mr. Koelz testified that she did not specify the amount of time that Ms. Wesson would work in
the Sylacauga store. (Doc. 26-6, p. 18). Construing the facts in the light most favorable to Ms.
Wesson, the Court accepts as true for summary judgment purposes Ms. Wesson’s testimony that
Ms. Koelz told Ms. Wesson that she would return to the Chelsea store in two months.
which he must have two years within which to prosecute his action.” Ala. Code. §
6-2-3 (1975). “The two-year limitations period begins to run when a plaintiff is
privy to facts which would ‘provoke inquiry in the mind of a [person] of
reasonable prudence, and which, if followed up, would have led to the discovery of
the fraud.’” Sirmon v. Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc., 922 F. Supp. 2d 1261,
1272 (N.D. Ala. 2013) (alteration in original) (quoting Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v.
Abston, 822 So. 2d 1187, 1195 (Ala. 2001)).
Ms. Wesson’s fraud claim rests on two alleged misrepresentations. Ms.
Wesson contends that Walgreens promised that she would become the pharmacy
manager of the Chelsea location when that store opened and that the company
would not pay her less than $4,645.00 biweekly for a period of two years. Ms.
Wesson admits that when the Chelsea store opened in early 2008, she learned that
she would not become the pharmacy manager at the store because Ms. Koelz had
selected Ken Horton to fill the position. (Doc. 26-1, p. 32; Doc. 26-2, p. 20). Ms.
Wesson was aware that Walgreens reduced her pay from $4,645.00 biweekly to
$4,520.00 biweekly no later than February 2008 when Ms. Wesson emailed Ms.
Koelz and questioned the change in pay. (Doc. 26-1, pp. 8, 22–23; Doc. 26-2, p.
20; Doc. 26-3, pp. 19–20). Thus, Ms. Wesson knew of the facts constituting the
alleged fraud by early 2008. (Doc. 26-2, p. 25). Ms. Wesson did not file her
lawsuit until August 27, 2012, more than four years after Ms. Wesson discovered
facts constituting the purported fraud. Therefore, Alabama’s two-year statute of
limitations bars Ms. Wesson’s fraud claim unless Alabama law provides relief
from the statute of limitations.
Under Alabama law, a defendant may not rely on a statute of limitations
defense to a fraud claim if the defendant induced the plaintiff to forego a lawsuit
by promising to remedy the alleged fraud. See Birmingham v. Cochrane Roofing
& Metal Co., Inc., 547 So. 2d 1159, 1167 (Ala. 1989) (“[I]f a defendant either
fraudulently or innocently represents to the plaintiff that he will remedy a problem,
and relying on these representations the plaintiff is induced not to file a lawsuit or
take any action, the defendant may be estopped from raising the statute of
limitations as a defense.”).
Vague assurances to remedy a problem are not
sufficient to prevent a defendant from relying on a statute of limitations defense.
Moore v. Nat’l Sec. Ins. Co., Inc., 477 So. 2d 346, 348 (Ala. 1985) (“In general,
conduct which is sufficient to give rise to an estoppel against the pleading of the
statute of limitations must amount to an affirmative inducement to the plaintiff to
delay bringing the action.”).
In applying estoppel to a statute of limitations
defense, the Alabama Supreme Court has held that reliance on the promise to
remedy must be reasonable. Cochrane, 547 So. 2d at 1167 (“. . . [W]e limit [the
estoppel] doctrine by requiring a standard of reasonable reliance.”).
Ms. Wesson argues that Walgreens is estopped from raising the statute of
limitations as a defense because Walgreens “continually represented” that “there
was a possibility that the fraud would be remedied.”
(Doc. 28, p. 19–20).
Specifically regarding Ms. Wesson’s desire to become the pharmacy manager at
the Chelsea store, Ms. Wesson points to three statements that Ms. Koelz allegedly
made in the fall of 2007 as evidence to support her estoppel argument. First, when
Ms. Koelz met Ms. Wesson for the first time, Ms. Koelz told Ms. Wesson “that,
with [Ms. Wesson’s] credentials, [Ms. Koelz] would have hired [Ms. Wesson]
anyway . . . and that [Ms. Koelz] would do what she could to put [Ms. Wesson] in
a store.” (Doc. 26-1, pp. 14–15). Second, when Ms. Wesson complained about
being scheduled as a “floater” instead of as the pharmacy manager at the Pell City
store, Ms. Koelz told Ms. Wesson that Ms. Wesson would have to “float until a
position opens up.” (Doc. 26-6, p. 14).
Finally, Ms. Koelz told Ms. Wesson in
October 2007 that Ms. Wesson “would be given the opportunity to apply at
Chelsea, but [Ms. Wesson] would also be competing against people who are
already pharmacy managers for Walgreens.” (Doc. 26-6, p. 6).
None of these statements rises to the level of a promise or assurance to Ms.
Wesson that she would become the Chelsea pharmacy manager. To the contrary,
Ms. Koelz’s first two statements generally allude to Ms. Wesson’s placement “in a
store” or “in a position,” and the third statement affirmatively indicates that Ms.
Wesson was not assured of the pharmacy manager position at the Chelsea store.
Ms. Wesson could not have reasonably relied on these statements as a basis for
delaying legal action based upon Walgreens’s purported fraudulent promise that
she would become the pharmacy manager at the Chelsea store when the store
Regarding Ms. Wesson’s pay, Ms. Wesson does not identify specific
promises or assurances that Walgreens made regarding her income. Ms. Wesson
emailed Ms. Koelz in February 2008 to ask why her salary was reduced from
$4,645.00 biweekly to $4,520.00 biweekly. Ms. Koelz responded that Ms.
Wesson’s new salary was tied to her new geographic region and that “the system
did a payroll adjustment to the [Birmingham] rates.” (Doc. 26-3, p. 19). Ms.
Koelz told Ms. Wesson “the only way that [Ms. Wesson] could take the salary that
was originally offered would be to transfer [from Pelham] back to the Pell City
store.” (Doc. 26-6, p. 7). This statement is not a promise to remedy an alleged
false promise regarding Ms. Wesson’s pay. Instead, Ms. Koelz informed Ms.
Wesson that if Ms. Wesson remained in the Birmingham South district, her pay
would not increase.
Ms. Wesson relies on another email in which Ms. Koelz told Ms. Wesson
that she (Ms. Koelz) would “check into” the salary issue. (Doc. 26-3. p. 18). Ms.
Koelz’s statement that she would “check into” Ms. Wesson’s concerns about the
reduction in pay is the type of vague assurance that does not constitute sufficient
inducement to give rise to estoppel. See Moore, 477 So. 2d at 348 (statements
from the defendant that it was “checking into the problem” or that it “was still
checking” were not sufficient to induce the plaintiffs to refrain from pursuing their
Because Walgreens is not estopped from asserting the statute of limitations
and because Ms. Wesson waited more than two years before filing her fraud claim,
the Court will enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of Walgreens on that
Ms. Wesson’s breach of contract claim fails as a matter of law.
To establish a breach of contract under Alabama law, a party must show “(1)
the existence of a valid contract binding the parties in the action, (2) [the party’s]
own performance under the contract, (3) [the opposing party’s] nonperformance,
and (4) damages.” GE Capital Aviation Serv’s, Inc. v. Pemco World Air Serv’s,
Inc., 92 So. 3d 749, 763 (Ala. 2012) (quoting Employees’ Benefit Ass’n v. Grissett,
732 So. 2d 968, 975 (Ala. 1998)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Ms. Wesson
alleges that Walgreens breached its promises that she would become the pharmacy
manager at the Chelsea store when the store opened and that she would receive
certain income including pharmacy manager bonuses. Ms. Wesson also claims
that Walgreens wrongfully terminated her employment.
Ms. Wesson’s breach of contract claim fails because Ms. Wesson was an atwill employee. The July 25, 2007 written offer of employment that Walgreens
provided to Ms. Wesson states: “You should not consider our offer of employment
to be a contract or guarantee of indefinite employment. Employment at Walgreens
is at will, is for no definite term, and is subject to Walgreens policies, which can be
changed from time to time.” (Doc. 26-3, p. 4). Similarly, the terms of Ms.
Wesson’s sign-on incentive bonus state: “This incentive payment arrangement
shall not be considered a contract or guarantee of employment for a definite period.
As always, either Pharmacist or Walgreens may terminate the relationship for any
reason at any time with or without notice.”
(Doc. 26-3, p. 6).
documents emphasize that Ms. Wesson was an “at-will” employee, and the offer
letter makes clear that Walgreens could change the terms of employment
unilaterally at any time. Therefore, Walgreens and Ms. Wesson did not enter into
an enforceable employment contract. See Jackson v. Cintas Corp., 391 F. Supp. 2d
1075, 1102 (N.D. Ala. 2005) (granting summary judgment in favor of the
employer and finding that no valid employment contract existed between the
employee and employer because the employer’s partner reference guide “expressly
disavow[ed] any contractual agreement as to the terms of employment and
emphasize[d] that all employment [was] ‘at will’”); Wade v. Chase Manhattan
Mortgage Corp., 994 F. Supp. 1369, 1377 (N.D. Ala. 1997) (stating that an at-will
employee has “no claim for breach of any employment contract.”) (citing Smith v.
Reynolds Metals Co., 497 So. 2d 93 (Ala. 1986)); see generally White Sands Grp.,
L.L.C. v. PRS II, LLC, 998 So. 2d 1042, 1051–53 (Ala. 2008) (under Alabama law,
whether a contract “fails for indefiniteness is properly a question of law.”).
To the extent Ms. Wesson bases her breach of contract claim on Ms.
Cochran’s pre-employment promises that Ms. Wesson would be the pharmacy
manager at the Chelsea store when the store opened or that she would receive
certain pharmacy manager bonuses, Ms. Wesson has not provided any evidence
that these statements “constituted any agreement separate or distinct from the terms
and conditions of [her] at-will employment arrangement with [Walgreens].”
Wade, 994 F. Supp. at 1378. Ms. Cochran’s promises to Ms. Wesson before she
started working for Walgreens in August 2007 that Ms. Wesson would be the
pharmacy manager of the Chelsea store when the store opened and that Ms.
Wesson would earn certain income, including pharmacy manager bonuses
“necessarily defined the conditions of [her] employment with any breach only
occurring during the employment relationship.” Id. Therefore, “any claim for the
breach of such promises would be barred by the at-will employment doctrine.” Id.
Ms. Wesson’s arguments that she was not an at-will employee are
unpersuasive. To show that her employment relationship with Walgreens was one
other than at-will, Ms. Wesson must demonstrate “(1) that there was a clear and
unequivocal offer of lifetime employment or employment of definite duration, . . .
(2) that the hiring agent had authority to bind the principal to a permanent
employment contract, . . . and (3) that [she] provided substantial consideration for
the contract separate from the services to be rendered.” Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. v.
Campbell, 512 So. 2d 725, 728 (Ala. 1987). If Ms. Wesson fails to meet any one
of these three requirements, the Court need not examine the others. See Ex parte
Michelin North Am., Inc., 795 So. 2d 674, 678 (Ala. 2001).
The record contradicts Ms. Wesson’s assertion that Walgreens’s offer of
employment was one for a definite duration.
Ms. Wesson has not produced
evidence demonstrating that Ms. Cochran orally offered Ms. Wesson employment
of a definite duration.
Instead, Ms. Wesson “thought that she had a contract to
work with Walgreens for a period of two years” because Ms. Cochran’s offer letter
was accompanied by a sign-on bonus incentive payment that Ms. Wesson had to
repay if she worked for Walgreens for less than two years. (Doc. 28, p. 19). But
the terms of the pharmacy incentive program refute Ms. Wesson’s belief that she
received the payment in exchange for a two-year contract. The incentive payment
terms expressly provide that the “incentive payment arrangement shall not be
considered a contract or guarantee of employment for a definite period.” (Doc. 263, p. 6). And the offer letter also contained language explaining that Ms. Wesson’s
employment with Walgreens was for “no definite term” and was “subject to
Walgreens policies, which can be changed from time to time.” (Doc. 26-3, p. 4).
Because Ms. Wesson was an at-will employee and because the terms of the
employment relationship between Ms. Wesson and Walgreens were not definite
but instead were subject to revision by Walgreens “from time to time,” Ms.
Wesson’s contract claims fail as a matter of law.
For the reasons discussed above, there is no genuine issue of material fact
for a jury to resolve in this case. Instead, Walgreens is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law on Ms. Wesson’s fraud and breach of contract claims. Therefore, the
Court GRANTS Walgreens’s motion for summary judgment. The Court will enter
a separate order consistent with this memorandum opinion dismissing this action
DONE and ORDERED this September 25, 2015.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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