Cornwell et al. v. Boston et al.

Repo Man gets the boot

Problem: Steve’s client, WIRB, Inc., a regional automobile repossessing business, terminated a manager of its Portland office, citing financial irregularities. There was no written employment contract. The business had always considered the manager an independent contractor. The manager claimed he was a partner in the Portland part of the repossessing business and brought a seven-figure damage claim for alleged injury to his share in the business.

Solution: Steve, a stickler for careful case preparation, took an intensive deposition of the terminated manager. He questioned the plaintiff closely about a variety issues, in particular the manager’s conduct as well as details about the manager’s unwritten relationship with WIRB. Steve then filed a motion for summary judgment, primarily to force the plaintiff’s lawyers to divulge specifics of their legal theories for recovery. The case ended there. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Steve’s client, holding the manager had no partner or other special relationship with WIRB.