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Quigley v. KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP

    Brief Fact Summary.

    When Quigley was terminated from KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP he sued for age discrimination.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A party has to commit an unlawful act that deprived another party of his will for a contract to be unenforceable based on the defense of economic duress.

    Facts.

    Quigly signed an employment agreement with KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP (KPMG) as a condition of his continued employment. When Quigley signed the agreement he entered “U.D.” to indicate that the agreement was signed under duress. The agreement included an arbitration clause. When Quigley was terminated from KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP he sued for age discrimination. The trial court dismissed the claim and forced arbitration.

    Issue.

    Whether a party had to commit an unlawful act that deprived another party of his will for a contract to be unenforceable based on the defense of economic duress.

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. Quigley did not prove economic duress because he only showed normal pressure to continue employment.

    Discussion.

    The threat of termination for failing to sign a contract would ordinarily be considered economic duress rendering a contract unenforceable. The normal pressure of employees to continue employment is not enough to render a contract unenforceable under the defense of duress.


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