Walsh v. Zurich American Insurance Co., No. 15-2245 (1st Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
After James Walsh’s (Plaintiff) employment with Zurich American Insurance Company (Defendant) was terminated, he filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging breach of contract, willful violation of New Hampshire’s wage and hour law, and other claims based on Defendant’s substantial reduction of his incentive pay for a lucrative deal and failure to pay incentive on another deal. A jury found that Defendant willfully and without good cause withheld the compensation owed to Plaintiff and awarded him double damages and attorney’s fees. The First Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment insofar as it incorporated the jury’s verdict on one deal (the Great American Insurance Company, or GAIC, deal) and affirmed the judgment with respect to the other deal (the Automobile Protection Corp., or APCO, deal), holding (1) Defendant was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the breach of contract and wage claims; (2) the jury’s breach and willfulness findings stemming from Defendant’s withholding of incentive compensation for a deal made with GAIC were not in error; but (3) the district court erred in concluding that, if Plaintiff had an enforceable incentive plan when the deal was struck with APCO, Defendant lacked discretion as a matter of law to change Plaintiff’s incentive formula for that deal. Remanded.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on March 20, 2017.