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Court correctly ruled man with terminated employment contract could retire

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An employment contract between a certified public accountant and his employer did not prohibit the CPA from retiring from his position after the company announced it would not be renewing his contract, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Wednesday.

Bruce Buchan, who worked as a CPA for an independent accounting firm, had performed services for Dennis Tippmann Sr. and his son. Later, the Tippmanns decided to hire Buchan to work for Cherokee Family Limited, various business entities owned by the Tippmann family.

Buchan began working in 2005 for the company, but an employment contract wasn’t signed until December 2007. The terms of the contract said Buchan would work for five-year periods, with either party able to not renew the contract by providing a 90-day written notice prior to the expiration of the current term. The contract was made retroactive so that Buchan’s first five-year term would expire Dec. 31, 2010. In September 2010, Cherokee informed Buchan it would not renew his contract. Buchan in October informed the company he would be retiring effective Dec. 31, 2010. Cherokee sent a letter to him saying it did not recognize his ability to retire after receipt of the notice of non-renewal and the company considered him to be employed on Dec. 31, 2010.

Buchan sued, alleging he did not receive timely compensation for accrued paid vacation days and the company breached the contract by not paying him the remaining portion of his bonus upon retirement. Cherokee counterclaimed alleging, among other things, breach of duty of loyalty and  breach of contract. Buchan filed for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether he could retire; the trial court ruled in his favor.

On interlocutory appeal in Cherokee Air Products, Inc., Cherokee Family Limited Partnership, Tippmann Industrial Products, Inc., Dennis Tippmann, Sr. Family Partnership, LLP, and Tippmann Farms, LLC v. Bruce E. Buchan, 02A05-1312-PL-635, the Court of Appeals affirmed.

“The trial court correctly concluded that Buchan was entitled to retire. …According to the terms of the contract, that notice merely notified Buchan that his contract would not be renewed at the end of the year for an additional term. The notice of non-renewal did not affect Buchan’s employment status for the remainder of the contract term. He remained employed under the contract, with all its rights and obligations until the term expired. Had Cherokee wished to terminate Buchan’s employment, Paragraph 4 was the appropriate provision in that circumstance. It is uncontradicted that Buchan was still employed and continued to work for Cherokee until the end of business on December 30, 2010,” Senior Judge William Garrard wrote.
 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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