made by various Allied officials that becoming a TQ Facilitator would enhance Fischer's career. Because these representations cannot, as a matter of law, be understood to have constituted any definite promise of continued employment for an indefinite term, Fischer's promissory estoppel claim must be dismissed.
Quasi-contractual liability such as promissory estoppel is based on the equitable principle that a person should not be allowed to enrich himself unjustly at the expense of another. See Shalita v. Township of Washington, 270 N.J. Super. 84, 90, 636 A.2d 568 (App. Div. 1994).
Under New Jersey law, the elements of a promissory estoppel claim are: (1) a clear and definite promise; (2) the promise is made with the expectation that the promisee will rely on it; (3) the promisee in fact reasonably relies on the promise; and (4) the promisee suffers a definite and substantial detriment as a result of the reliance such that the promise should be enforced to avoid injustice. See Royal Assocs. v. Concannon, 200 N.J. Super. 84, 91, 490 A.2d 357 (App. Div. 1985).
In support of his promissory estoppel claim, Fischer relies upon the advice he allegedly received from Blackwood and Gruebel that becoming a TQ Facilitator would enhance Fischer's career and provide promotional opportunities for Fischer at Allied. In addition, Fischer relies upon the memorandum distributed to all TQ Facilitators from the CEO of Allied which stated that becoming a TQ Facilitator would help accelerate career growth. Fischer apparently contends that these statements should bar Allied from selecting him for termination during a reorganization.
In fact, these alleged promises are too vague to constitute the basis for a promissory estoppel claim. The statements promise neither to protect Fischer from termination, nor to immunize him from the effects of a reorganization. The statements cited by Fischer do not constitute a clear and definite promise, as required by New Jersey law, and any reliance by Fischer on those statements was unreasonable.
Because Fischer cannot show the existence of any clear and definite promise guaranteeing him continued employment with Allied, his claim for promissory estoppel must fail. Accordingly, the Court will grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment on Count III of Fischer's Complaint.
For the reasons expressed herein, the Court will grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment.
An appropriate order is attached hereto.
Dated: September 4, 1997
ALFRED M. WOLIN, U.S.D.J.
In accordance with the Court's Opinion filed herewith,
It is on this 4th day of September, 1997
ORDERED that defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.
ALFRED M. WOLIN, U.S.D.J.