Man suing for unpaid wages awarded thousands more in appeal

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part a judgment issued to a former medical device company employee, granting him an additional award for unpaid wages and remanding for the calculation of additional attorney fees it concluded he is entitled to.

DeGood Dimensional Concepts, Inc., a North Webster-based orthopedic medical device manufacturer, appealed a trial court’s judgment in favor of its former employee, John Wilder, for unpaid sales commissions and attorney fees.

In a span of two years working for DeGood, Wilder was accused of repeatedly violating his employment agreement by working for other companies, taking extended breaks and working fewer hours than agreed. The company also argued he was uncommunicative and had failed to meet with any clients for the first three months of his employment.

Wilder filed a complaint against DeGood for unpaid salary, commissions, vacation, sick time and bonuses after he was issued a notification of termination. DeGood countersued for damages and injunctive relief.

Specifically, DeGood argued that it had acted in good faith by not paying Wilder a portion of the company’s commissions and that it could not be held liable for unpaid wages, attorney fees, court costs or liquidated damages. It likewise alleged that Wilder committed civil theft by taking excessive unauthorized time off and not working a minimum 40-hour work week.

The Kosciusko Circuit Court ultimately entered judgment for Wilder in the amount of $24,537.48 with statutory interest but stated in its final judgment that court costs were assessed against him. The trial court also ordered DeGood to pay the costs of the action and Wilder’s attorney fees in the amount of $15,250 pursuant to the Wage Claim Statute, finding it failed to prove the company had overpaid Wilder and was not entitled to damages on its stolen wages claim.

In Degood Dimensional Concepts, Inc. v. John D. Wilder, 19A-PL-00141, http://media.ibj.com/Lawyer/websites/opinions/index.php?pdf=2019/november/DeGood.pdf the company argued the judgment should be set aside because the company never agreed to modify the agreements and that it could not be liable for damages under the statute, among other things. Wilder cross-appealed, arguing he was entitled to amounts for under- and unpaid wages, liquidated damages and prejudgment interest and costs.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in part the trial court’s decision, finding neither party was precluded from enforcing the terms of the agreement against each other. The appellate court also found DeGood’s claim as to Wilder’s negligence to follow proper procedures under the statute failed.

Additionally, it declined to disturb the trial court’s award of $9,287.48 in commissions to Wilder on the finding that the unpaid commission award was within the scope of the evidence presented at trial. It also determined the trial court properly found Wilder had not committed theft of his wages and that DeGood was not entitled to damages under the Crime Victims Relief Act.

In addressing Wilder’s cross appeal, the appellate court held Wilder’s claim that he was entitled to an additional $32,300 failed when it concluded he had been given three months’ notice of termiantion. It did, however, remand the case for the trial court to enter an additional award of $3,329 to Wilder for unpaid wages and to calculate a reasonable amount of attorney fees in accordance with the Wage Claim Statute. But the appellate court declined to order DeGood to pay liquidated damages, concluding it did not commit bad faith in withholding those wages.

Lastly, the appellate court found Wilder was entitled to prejudgment interest on his unpaid commissions and salary amounts which, on remand, was ordered to be calculated at the statutory rate. It further remanded for the trial court to calculate the costs of the matter and enter an order against DeGood for that amount.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}