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Settlement talks set for Don Marsh severance dispute

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Lawyers for Marsh Supermarkets Inc. and its former CEO are set to meet Monday in hopes of finally ending their years-long court battle in which the company already has notched a partial victory.

Following a two-week civil trial last month, a federal jury ordered Don Marsh, 75, to pay the local grocery chain $2.2 million, finding that he used company money to finance global travels and other unnecessary expenses.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker now must rule separately on whether Marsh Supermarkets can recover roughly $2.1 million in severance it has paid to Don Marsh. The original severance agreement called for a $4.2 million payment.

But first the two sides will attempt to settle the severance dispute on their own. According to a recent court document, each side was set to file by noon Friday “a brief confidential settlement statement” outlining their positions.

The settlement conference is set for 8:30 a.m. Monday.

David Herzog, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP who is representing Marsh Supermarkets, told IBJ in an email that “the company has always been eager to resolve its dispute with Mr. Marsh and looks forward to another opportunity to try.”

Marsh’s lawyer, Andrew McNeil, a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, declined to comment on the settlement proceedings.

A settlement could be critical for Don Marsh, who could end up owing his former company as much as $4.3 million if he is forced to pay the jury's $2.2 million judgment plus the $2.1 million in severance he’s already received.

After Marsh Supermarkets sued him in federal court in 2009, he countersued, asserting the company improperly halted his post-retirement payouts in 2008 and still owed him about $2.1 million. The jury denied his counterclaim.

Marsh left the company he had led since 1980 following its purchase in September 2006 by Sun Capital Partners, a Florida private equity firm.

Marsh Supermarkets stopped the severance payments after it said an Internal Revenue Service audit found “disallowed deductions” for personal expenses he racked up from April 2004 to September 2006. The company ultimately paid the IRS a $616,000 penalty.

Don Marsh's attorneys insisted his globe-trotting trips were business-related and within the bounds of his employment contract.

The nine-member jury last month found that Don Marsh committed breach of contract and fraud, but stopped short of delivering Marsh Supermarkets a total victory.

Although the grocery chain had asked for $1.6 million to cover expenses and penalties related to the IRS audit, the jury awarded the company half that amount, saying it shared responsibility.

Besides the $2.1 million in severance Marsh Supermarkets also is hoping to recover, the company believes it’s entitled to $1.8 million in life insurance policy premiums paid on Marsh's behalf.
 

IBJ is a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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