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Moore v. Waterstone Capital Management L.P.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

August 26, 2013

William H. Moore, Relator,
v.
Waterstone Capital Management L.P., Respondent, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Respondent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Department of Employment and Economic Development, File No. 30023754-3

Jasper D. Berg, IAJ Law, LLC, Woodbury, Minnesota (for relator)

Waterstone Capital Management, L.P., Plymouth, (respondent employer)

Lee B. Nelson, Amy R. Lawler, Department of Employment and Economic Development, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent Department)

Considered and decided by Chutich, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Kirk, Judge.

CHUTICH, Judge

On certiorari appeal from an ineligibility determination, relator William Moore contends that the unemployment-law judge erred by concluding that a deferred-bonus payment and a settlement agreement delayed his eligibility for unemployment benefits under Minnesota Statutes section 268.085, subdivision 3 (2012). We conclude that the unemployment-law judge correctly determined that Moore's benefits are delayed based on the deferred bonus, but erred by determining that benefits are delayed based on the settlement agreement. Because the judge's error has no bearing on the final determination that Moore was ineligible for benefits during his benefit year, however, we affirm as modified.

FACTS

Moore worked for Waterstone Capital Management (Waterstone) from March 9, 2009, until Waterstone terminated his employment without cause on February 1, 2012. Moore's yearly salary at the time of his termination was $175, 000 plus a performance bonus, the amount of which was in the sole discretion of Waterstone's Chief Executive Officer.

Waterstone utilizes a deferred payment structure for its employee bonuses. An employee is eligible for a performance bonus for each calendar year "to be payable on a date within the first 60 days of the following calendar year." But "[o]ne third of each year's bonus up to $150, 000 and fifty percent thereafter will be deferred over a three year period." Waterstone then pays the employee one-third of the deferred amount on the anniversary date of the respective bonus payment for the next three years. If an employee is terminated without cause, "all deferred and unpaid compensation will become fully vested, and be due and payable within five (5) business days" after the net value of the deferred compensation is calculated.

Moore established an unemployment-benefits account with respondent Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (department) and received a weekly benefit of $597 beginning the week of February 5, 2012.

About two weeks after terminating his employment, Waterstone paid Moore $559, 610.30 as a deferred payment from the 2009 and 2010 bonuses. Approximately two months later, Moore and Waterstone entered into a settlement agreement and Waterstone paid Moore an additional $100, 000 to settle "all payments under [Moore's] Employment Agreement" and to release Waterstone "from any and all claims, damages and expenses whatsoever arising under, or in connection with, [Moore's] Employment Agreement."

In July 2012, Waterstone informed the department that it had made two payments totaling $659, 610.30 to Moore. The department determined that the $100, 000 settlement payment was severance and delayed Moore's eligibility for unemployment benefits until September 8, 2012. The department did not make a ...


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