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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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