Senior executive's duties materially changed, triggering separation payment
Employment Law - Breach of Contract
Business Litigation - Severance Agreement
Los Angeles County Superior Court
A senior executive for ICN Pharmaceuticals was employed under a written agreement providing for a payment in the event his title or duties were materially changed. Defendant refused to make the payment, claiming a position it created for him was substantially similar.

Plaintiff alleged both his title and duties were materially changed by ICN when it changed his title to "Executive Assistant," and removed from him his day-to-day duties.  Plaintiff contended that this purported "promotion" as characterized by the Defendant was a sham meant to avoid triggering the separation payment due to him under his contract.  Defendant claimed that Plaintiff had actually been elevated in his position, rather than demoted, and that there had been no material diminution in his duties as he was required to be available to the company and handle sensitive and complex tasks.  

Plaintiff was entitled to a $2 million payout under his contract.  During the course of the litigation, Plaintiff showed that the alternative position offered to him by ICN was meaningless, that he had no real duties, and that his position as "Executive Assistant" amounted to little more than a crossing guard.  The case proceeded to trial and a verdict was entered in the amount of $8,700,000, which included contractual attorneys' fees, prejudgment interest, and costs.