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Jury awards $6.6 million to executive as compensation for sale of old Sparrow Point steel mill to developers

A federal district court jury awarded damages totaling over $6.6 million to the former vice president for leasing and development of the company that sold Sparrows Point, site of the former Bethlehem Steel mill, agreeing his employers did not pay him a commission he earned on the $110 million sale in 2014.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Northern Division) jury found in favor of John H. Macsherry, Jr. for violation of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law (MWPCL), breach of contract and other causes of action, awarding damages against each of the three defendants, Commercial Development Company, Inc. (CDC), Sparrow Point, LLC (SP) and their controlling executive, Michael Roberts.  The jury also found that all three defendants did not act in good faith under the MWPCL, which by statue allows Macsherry to collect his attorneys’ fees and costs.

Macsherry was represented by Thomas & Libowitz, P.A. attorney Andrew O’Connell of Baltimore. One of several multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements O’Connell has to his credit, the verdict is one of the largest ever for a single plaintiff under Maryland’s wage payment laws.

“Macsherry was hired as the necessary ‘boots on the ground’ in Baltimore for the project’s St. Louis-based developers,” O’Connell said.  “The agreement he was presented with and relied upon called for a $77,000 base salary, plus a commission of seventy-five basis points on the total value of the sales price.”

The 3,100-acre former steel plant was bought by CDC out of RG Steel’s bankruptcy in 2012 with its title placed in the name of SP. Roberts is the principal, vice president and co-owner of CDC as well as the managing member of SP.  When the property was sold, Roberts refused to pay Macsherry’s commission, leading Macsherry to sue after several attempts to collect.  The MWPCL covers employees who believe their employer has wrongfully withheld or refused to pay the full amount of wages, overtime, bonuses, fringe benefits or other compensation due for work performed.

Contact information:
Andrew O’Connell, Esq.
Thomas & Libowitz, P.A.
100 Light Street, Suite 1100
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 752-2468 (O)
(410) 591-7658 (C)
aoconnell@tandllaw.com

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