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Stock awards are an integral part of compensation packages at many companies, but allocation of payments can become contentious when company officers leave.
A lawsuit filed by W.R. Berkley in federal court in Delaware in January seeking the return of almost a half-million dollars in stock from a former employee after he left to join a competitor attracted plenty of reader interest.
Berkley said it issued Bruce E. Stanley a total of 14,217 shares, valued at $473,620, between August 2004 and August 2017 that had vested, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington in W.R. Berkley Corp. v. Bruce E. Stanley.
The story about the filing of the lawsuit was the sixth most read risk management-related story on Business Insurance’s website in 2022.
The complaint said the stock agreements granting Mr. Stanley the shares stipulated that if he engaged in a “competitive action” within one year after termination of his employment, the insurer had the right to demand repayment of an amount equal to the stock’s value.
The complaint said Berkley’s board of directors’ compensation committee had the “sole and absolute discretion” to determine whether he had engaged in a competitive action in breach of the stock agreements’ applicable provisions, and it determined he had.
At the time he left the insurer in June 2021, Mr. Stanley was an assistant vice president and controller-finance with Continental Western Group, an operating unit of a Berkley subsidiary.
He later joined Des Moines, Iowa-based EMC Insurance Cos. as vice president, financial planning and analysis, according to the complaint.
In June, Berkley voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit with the district court, stating Mr. Stanley “has repaid the recapture amount sought in the complaint.”