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A FARM DISPUTE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8787, 6 February 1914
A FARM DISPUTE.
OWN ER AN D MANAGER
At the Ashburton Magistrate's Court to-day, before Mr V. G. Day, S.M., and Mr G. W. Andrews, J.P., David Patullo (Mr Purnell) claimed from John Morley Leigh (Mr Beswick), the suni of £75, for damages for wrongful dismissal. . David Patullo, the plaintiff, said he was a farm manager by occupation. The defendant was the owner of the Homestead block at Laghmor, and witness was verbally engaged as manager. No one was present when the engagement was made. He commenced work on August 5 of last year. When he first saw the defendant, the latter had stated that he wanted a man to take over the sole management, buying and selling, etc. Witness had been told that he was to have full charge. The defendant said that he had a friend, Mr J. Cow, and he hoped he (witness) would not mind Mr Cow going to 'Laghmor and looking over his work. He also said that he would like any suggestions made by Mr Cow to be acted upon. Witness had stated that he would not mind seeiug Mr Cow on the place. Witness was to receive £140 per year, a^'ffee house, vegetables, the milk of two cows, and meat for his household at the rate of 2d per lb. After witness had been at Lagbmor for two months, Mr Leigli had said to him that although he had engaged him for one year, there was nothing stipulated as to when the bargain ceased. Witness.retorted thai it had been made for one year) and terminated at the end of that, time. The defendant then-sug-, gested that it would be better to have a three-months' notice on either side, and to that witness replied that he did-riot care to have the bargain : interfered with. The next morning witness again met Mr Leigh, who said to witness that he would think it was a very stupid conversation, that they had had the previous evening. Witness agreed, and Mr Leigh asked hi m not to take any notice of it. Mr Leigh then stated that he was well satisfied with witness's work. Witness continued to work until January 8, when he received a letter from Mr Leigh, in consequence of which he left the position, much against his will. . He-was paid his salary up to January 5, and his disburseihents up to the same day. He had not been able to get any employment since. Witness was sub j ected to a _ lengthy cross-examination by Mr Beswick. William Cooper, a ploughman, said that he was Working for the plaintiff. He left because lie was dissatisfied with the job. Other, men on the place were also dissatisfied, and gave notice. The men had nothing against the plaintiff.- .: f .. , \ ■■; ■
By Mr Beswick,: The reason he was dissatisfied was because of wages. He was getting a fair wage for a ploughman, but he could earn more at harvesting. He was not aware of any "row" between, the .plaintiff and the defendant. When he was, engaged, the plaintiff did not say who he should take orders .from. Other men had also left to go harvesting. For the defence, John Morley Leigh deposed that he engaged the plaintiff through Labatt's Agency. When he engaged him he emphasised the point that he wanted a working manager. He told plaintiff that he (defendant) would be down te give orders every week, and he said he would superintend the garden work Jhiniself. On one occasion at Laghmor a conversation had taken place between the plaintiff and himself, in which it was arranged that a three-months' notice should terminate the engagement. On another occasion, when witness had paid a visit to the place, he noticed a horse mower at work on the lawn,, and the machine was tearing arid cutting up the turf.- He instructed the man to use a hand-mower, which he did. When witness spoke to the plaintiff about it the latter flew into a towering passion, and said that he would not allow witness to give orders' to the men, and would not be dictated to. The plaintiff" had been' very violent and threatened, to " chuck the place up." Disagreements which. , happened after that made it quite impossible for the relations between the plaintiff and witness to continue. Witness had not arranged for Mr Cow to go over the place or to act in any way as a supervisor. The plaintiff's evidence in regard to ,the alleged "stupid conversation" was contrary to fact. Plaintiff had repeatedly disobeyed "his orders.
By Mr Purnell: He had not told the plaintiff that he was to have sole charge of the place. He had emphatically told plaintiff that he (defendant) would be down every week from Christchurch to give orders. He did not engage the plaintiff for one year. He had not admitted in a conversation that the plaintiff was engaged for one year. The plaintiff had come to him without any recommendations, and it was not likely' that he would engage a man that he knew nothing of for that time.
John. Jackson, a taxi-cab proprietor, said he recollected going to Laghmor' to bring the defendant to Ashburton. Whilst he was waiting for him he noticed the plaintiff and the defendant in conversation. The plaintiff was speaking very heatedly- and he heard the plaintiff say'to'" the defendant: -"I have, had enough of this. 1 am not going to have you interfering with the men any more." . - By Mr Pirrnell: He was a few yards away froih the pair. The defendant had spoken to witness about the conversation, and asked if he remembered it.The remarkable behaviour of the plaintiff had fixed the incident in , his mind.
By Mr Beswick: The defendant had not prompted witness as to what he should say in his evidence. Henry Adam Mackay said he was an officer in the Public Trustee's Office. Wellington. Ho had been a guest of the defendant's at Laghmor. On one occasion when he was there his attention was attracted by the manner in which the main lawn was being cut. , The machine was making a mess of the lawn. On the same day, after dinner in the -evening, he was iii company with the defendant, and they noticed a person in the conservatory,' whom, later, he knew to be the manager of the place. The defendant spoke to this person about the lawn, and the manager replied in a very heated fashion. He got very angry, and said he would not have the defendant interfering" with the men. An arrangement was then apparently made between the two that in future the manager should have charge of the garden. Witness also heard" a remark made by the plaintiff that hewould not leave the situation unless the defendant paid him salary equal to a year's employment. The plaintiff's attitude towards the defendant was not as rit should be between emnloyi-p and employer. Late**. wi!i>'-ss-had spoken to the plaintiff 'about 'the matter in a friendly kind of fashion. The plaintiff said that the defendant knew nothing
about farming, and witness retorted, that he knew the defendant well, and he certainly had, had a good deal of practical farming experience. Later, the plaintiff was responsible for the remark that "Mr Leigh was only a, sleeping partner and he (the plain tin*) would only take orders from MrCow." By Mr i'miKil]: The defendant told him'that he was going to discharge theplaintiff from his employ. Thomas Hales said he was employed 1 at Laghmor about the end of last year. He was mowing tiie lawn, and'the horsemower had made a very bad job of" ■it. The plain i" ill their showed him the way to do it. The attitude of the plaintiff .towards the defendant' suggested to ■ ■ witness that ihe former, and' not thedefendant, was ihe owner of the place. The plaiiitill" told witness not to take orders from the defendant. Reginald Coward also gave evidence, and after both the plaintiff and the defendant had been recalled and crossI examined, the Magistrate said he would: reserve-' his decision.
A FARM DISPUTE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8787, 6 February 1914
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