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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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