SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Nov. 08, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Louderback Law Group led by founder Charles M. Louderback recently secured a major trial victory on behalf of plaintiff Steven Buster in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Mr. Buster the former CEO/President of Mechanics Bank, filed various causes of action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) against his former employer following the denial of his supplemental executive retirement plan (“SERP”) benefits by the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors of the Bank. The case raised important issues regarding the limits on an employer in presenting a release to a departing employee which purports to release a fully earned retirement benefit despite the contrary understanding of the parties. The win has implications for executives in the banking industry and beyond when it comes time for preparing for retirement. 

Following a federal court trial before the Honorable William H. Alsup, the Court ruled that the Bank’s Compensation Committee abused its discretion in its denial of Mr. Buster’s claim for SERP benefits. In reaching this conclusion, the Court found that both the Bank and Mr. Buster understood the retirement agreement and release in question to preserve Mr. Buster’s entitlement to the SERP benefit despite the broad release language. The Court further found that the Bank’s Compensation Committee was operating under a severe conflict of interest when it refused to consider or even investigate Mr. Buster’s claim that he did not knowingly waive his SERP benefits in connection with the retirement agreement and release. The Court ultimately awarded Mr. Buster the full reinstatement of his SERP benefits.

Mr. Louderback summarized the award as follows: “The award by the Court of Mr. Buster’s SERP benefits of approximately $1.3 million dollars compensates him for his hard-earned retirement benefits which were wrongfully denied by the Bank. We fully expect that the Court will award Mr. Buster all of his attorneys’ fees, meaning that he will not be penalized financially for asserting his rights in Federal court.” It is anticipated that Mr. Buster’s recovery of his attorneys’ fees, litigation costs and pre-judgment interest which will substantially increase the total award well-beyond $2 million.

The Louderback Law Group specializes in fighting for executives and employees who have been denied their compensation or subjected to discrimination at work. This trial victory is just the latest in a career marked by successful multi-million dollar trial results for Charles M. Louderback on behalf of plaintiffs across California. Some notable examples of the successful results achieved during Mr. Louderback’s three decades of trial work include a $289 million dollar class action victory on behalf of the consumers of the State of California and $7.3 million dollar jury verdict on behalf of an individual plaintiff.

ryan@louderbackgroup.com / 415-615-0200