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Valentine v. Carlisle Leasing International - 6/2/2000

Case Summary: In this case, the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, based in Syracuse, New York, denied Carlisle Leasing International's motion for summary judgment to dismiss our client Walter Valentine's claims for an equity ownership interest in the company. Carlisle is a refrigerated equipment leasing company. As part of his job offer to join the company as president, Mr. Valentine was offered the opportunity to earn up to five percent of the company's outstanding equity. The company ultimately implemented a plan by which Mr. Valentine would earn up to five percent of the company over six years. The plan provided, however, that if an employee were terminated for cause he would forfeit vested and unvested equity participation. The company ousted Mr. Valentine from his position as president in 1996. Mr. Valentine sued the company for deprivation of benefits under Section 510 of ERISA. The Court concluded that Mr. Valentine had established a question of fact for a jury to determine whether he had been forced from the company in order to deprive him of benefits under the equity participation plan, and thus denied Carlisle' s request for the court to dismiss the case. Mr. Valentine and Carlisle subsequently settled the case.

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