Appeals court affirms big judgment against Ford over manager's reassignment claim

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has unanimously sided with a former Ford Motor Co. manager who sued the auto manufacturer for more than $650,000.

Earl Thomas Burgess had sued Ford in 2007 after his supervisors refused to let him return to an hourly job — in his management role, he was set to move to another company that was buying a Ford division — thereby making him ineligible for a retirement buyout. Burgess claims the company previously promised him a return to an hourly position. However, after requesting the move several times, he was denied.

The Court of Appeals agreed with a jury's previous decision that Ford failed to live up to a “clear and definite promise.” The present-day value of Burgess's denied retirement buyout would be nearly $750,000, according to court filings. The appeals court's opinion is available here.