<i>Seinfeld </I> Suit Reversed On Appeal

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A state appeals court Tuesday reversed a $25 million judgment awarded to a man fired by Miller Brewing Co.

Jerold Mackenzie's case received national attention because a female Miller employee said Mackenzie harassed her by talking to her about a racy episode of the Seinfeld television show.

Mackenzie said Miller executives assured him his status with the company was safe, despite their plans to fire him from his $95,000-per-year job.

Miller appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeals, claiming it had no legal obligation to tell Mackenzie anything about his job status.

The company filed the appeal to clarify state employment law, which Miller said was made unclear by the case.

In Tuesday's decision, the appeals court said Mackenzie failed to prove that Miller intended to deceive him or that he was financially damaged as a result of any alleged misrepresentation.

The lawsuit argued Miller officials should have told Mackenzie in 1989 that his position had been downgraded, especially since he had been fighting for years to win a promotion.

Miller claimed Milwaukee County Circuit Court jurors were misled and inflamed during the 1997 trial when they were told Mackenzie was fired after he related an off-color incident from the show to a woman employee who accused him of harassment.

The Seinfeld element eventually became secondary and the circuit court dismissed a wrongful-firing claim. The jury award was based on his argument that he was not informed about the status of his job reclassification.

The case drew the interest of several parties, including Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business group.

The business association filed a friend of the court brief with the state Court of Appeals after Miller Brewing Co. requested it, which said employees do not need to know if they will have a job tomorrow, if they have been demoted or what the future holds.