Question: Brian Olander became a State Farm insurance agent in 1981
Brian Olander became a State Farm insurance agent in 1981. In August 1996, Olander was charged with murder after a violent altercation with a neighboring landowner. When Olander refused to take a leave of absence until the criminal charges were resolved, State Farm terminated his agency agreement and assigned other agents to serve the State Farm policyholders previously served by Olander's agency. In 1999, Olander brought suit against State Farm, alleging wrongful termination of the agency agreement. The district court granted State Farm's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Section III.A of the written State Farm Agent's Agreement unambiguously made the parties' contractual relationship terminable at will. On appeal, a divided panel of the court reversed. State Farm appealed. The issue on appeal may be quickly summarized: If the agreement was terminable at will by either party, then Olander has no wrongful-termination claim and his related claims were properly dismissed as well. Was the agency agreement one that could be terminated by either party? What duties did State Farm owe Olander when it terminated their agency agreement?
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