Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
CHRYSLER GROUP, L.L.C. PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
DARLENE DIXON DEFENDANT-APPELLANT
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Richard O. Mazanec Richard O. Mazanec
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Russell T. Rendall Bruce G. Hearey
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
BEFORE: E.T. Gallagher, J., Kilbane, P.J., and Jones, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
T. GALLAGHER, JUDGE.
Defendant-appellant, Darlene Dixon ("Dixon"),
appeals an order granting summary judgment in favor of
plaintiff-appellee, Chrysler Group, L.L.C. She raises two
assignments of error:
1. The trial court erred in granting Chrysler's motion
for summary judgment holding that Dixon's counterclaim is
barred by the doctrines of judicial and equitable estoppel
and that Dixon lacks standing to bring her counterclaim.
2. The trial court erred in granting Chrysler's motion
for summary judgment holding that Dixon's counterclaim
fails as a matter of law because Dixon cannot prove a prima
facie case of wrongful discharge based on Dixon's
We find no merit to the appeal and affirm the trial
court's judgment. I. Facts and Procedural
Dixon started her employment with Chrysler at a plant in
Twinsburg, Ohio in 1997. In January 2010, Chrysler closed the
Twinsburg plant, and Dixon signed a "Relocation
Repayment Agreement, " in which she agreed to move to
Warren, Michigan to work as a production control supervisor
at Chrysler's Warren Truck Assembly Plant. (Pardun
Affidavit ¶ 3.) The agreement provided, in relevant
I understand that the relocation benefits that have been
and/or are extended by Chrysler to me or on my behalf are
conditional upon my continued employment with Chrysler for a
minimum of one (1) year from my effective transfer date to
the new location.
I understand that in the event that I am separated from
Chrysler's employ for any reason other than death,
layoff, or retirement within this one year period from my
effective transfer date, I hereby promise to reimburse
Chrysler for the relocation expenses paid to me or on my
behalf for my relocation within 30 days after I have
terminated my employment.
to the agreement, Chrysler paid Dixon $41, 873.95 in
relocation benefits in January 2010. In February 2010,
Chrysler issued a second payment to Dixon in the amount of
$36, 866.25 by mistake. This sum was not included in the
parties' relocation agreement.
Dixon began working at the Michigan plant on January 11,
2010. However, on January 25, 2010, Dixon went on a
short-term medical leave under Chrysler's Disability
Absence Plan ("DAP"). Both her physician and
Chrysler's doctor approved the medical leave, and an
independent medical examiner later cleared Dixon to return to
work in May 2010. Accordingly, Chrysler informed Dixon that
(1) she must report to work by November 2010, and (2) she
must bring a certified check in the amount of $36, 866.25 to
repay the amount Chrysler paid to Dixon by mistake.
Desiree Nash ("Nash"), a Human Resources Generalist
at Chrysler, averred in an affidavit submitted in support of
Chrysler's motion for summary judgment that "Dixon
failed to report to work as instructed." (Nash Affidavit
¶ 9.) Nevertheless, Chrysler extended her report date to
December 6, 2010. (Nash Affidavit ¶ 9.) Dixon reported
for work on December 6, 2010, but failed to repay the $36,
866.25. Accordingly, Chrysler terminated her employment.
(Nash Affidavit ¶ 10.)
Chrysler subsequently commenced this action to recover the
$41, 873.95 that it paid to relocate Dixon to Warren,
Michigan, claiming it was entitled to reimbursement of funds
paid for a job relocation that Dixon never exercised.
Chrysler also sought to recover the $36, 866.25 that Chrysler
paid to Dixon in error. Dixon filed counterclaims for breach
of implied contract, ...