When a corporation and one of its executives end their relationship, the split all too often becomes acrimonious. High stakes, intense personal feelings, and the risk of significant injury to reputations on both sides make for highly-charged disputes. Susman Godfrey is among the most experienced firms in the country at handling severance disputes involving corporate executives. As with other types of litigation, we do not limit ourselves to either plaintiffs or defendants, and we have represented both executives and corporations with great success. We have handled executive compensation matters involving many public and private companies, including members of the Fortune 500. A number of our engagements in this area are protected by strict confidentiality agreements. Representative cases that we can describe include the following:
- Susman Godfrey represented Perry Cohan, the former co-owner and CEO of a company purchased by Fiserv, Inc., a publicly-traded financial services company. After Fiserv terminated his employment, Susman Godfrey filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles seeking damages in excess of $30 million. The case settled after mediation for a substantial figure.
- Susman Godfrey represented three senior executives against Cambrian Capital Partners, a mezzanine finance venture owned by Mirubeni Corp., Dominion Capital, and Jeffries & Co. After a one-week trial, the executives succeeded on their claim that Cambrian had breached their equity participation agreement. They were awarded more than $3 million.
- Susman Godfrey represented a major investment management firm accused of the wrongful termination of an employment contract that triggered a stock buy-back at an artificially low price. The amount in controversy exceeded $100 million. Susman Godfrey settled the case on terms favorable to the employer.
- Susman Godfrey represented David Siegel, former president of Budget Group Inc., the car rental company. Siegel brought claims against Budget for breach of contract, and Budget made claims against Siegel. Siegel prevailed after a one week trial and was awarded $5.7 million. All of Budget's claims against Siegel were rejected.
- Susman Godfrey represented engineering firm Stone & Webster in a dispute with a former executive over golden parachute benefits. The case settled before trial on terms favorable to Stone & Webster.
- Susman Godfrey represented John Dalton, who had been fired as president of World Port, Inc., in claims against his former employer. On the first day of trial, WorldPort agreed to give Dalton stock worth $7.2 million in settlement of his claims.
- Susman Godfrey represented Elizabeth Miller, a founder of Big Ball Sports, an apparel company. After being fired, Miller sued the company and its other co-founders for shareholder oppression and breach of fiduciary duty. After a three- week trial in Houston, the jury found for Miller on all of her claims and valued her interest in the business at $3.3 million, which the judge then ordered the company to pay her for her stock.
- Susman Godfrey represented Jonathan Carroll, former president of Enserch Energy Services Inc., in a breach of contract case stemming from Enserch's firing of Carroll. After a five-day trial, Carroll won on all issues and received $5.9 million from Enserch.
- Susman Godfrey represented Dan Pena, who had been fired as president of Great Western Resources, in claims against his former employer. When Pena sued for breach of contract, Great Western sued him for breach of fiduciary duty. After a three-week trial in Houston, the jury found that Great Western had breached Pena's contract, rejected all of Great Western's claims against Pena, and awarded him $3.1 million.