Trey Cox and Jason Dennis Win Multi-Million Dollar Verdict in Arbitration
Construction Media Company Hanley-Wood Ordered to Pay Texas Executives $2.9 Million
Washington, D.C.-based construction media company Hanley-Wood has been ordered to pay $2.9 million in salaries, bonuses, interest and fees in a contract dispute with two former company executives from Southlake, Texas.
Following an arbitration proceeding in Dallas, Hanley-Wood was found to have breached the contracts of former Hanley-Wood Exhibitions Division President Galen Poss and its Executive Vice President, Michael Green.
Both men were hired in 2000 to create the company's Exhibitions Division, headquartered in Irving, Texas. Contracts the men signed called for them to earn bonuses based on the division's performance and, after a record year in 2008, Mr. Poss and Mr. Green said they were due bonuses they had earned. The contracts also called for Poss and Green to receive raises in salary.
But Hanley-Wood refused to pay their bonuses or increase their salaries, arguing that the bonuses and raises were discretionary and that the economic crisis of 2009 made payment impossible. The company also said the men had retained some Hanley-Wood documents. Mr. Poss and Mr. Green later left the company and invoked a contract clause that called for them to receive not only their bonus payments, but also a year's worth of salary and other benefits.
In his ruling, the arbitrator found that the company had breached the contracts and that payment of the bonuses and salary adjustments was mandatory rather than discretionary. In addition, the arbitrator said that even if the company were experiencing financial hardship, that didn't constitute an excuse to avoid paying the men the money owed.
"This is about making a promise and then failing to follow through on it – that's what the company did,” says attorney Trey Cox of Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox, who, along with attorney Jason Dennis, represents Mr. Poss and Mr. Green. "These guys did such a good job that their division became Hanley-Wood's key profit center. For the company to refuse payment was wrong and the arbitrator's decision fixes that.”
The arbitrator's decision awards money for the bonuses each man earned, the salary adjustments they should have received, and 12 months' severance pay. The decision also orders Hanley-Wood to pay pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees and arbitration costs. Mr. Cox has asked the state court to enter judgment for the full amount of the arbitrator's decision.
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