Balles v. Babcock Power Inc.Annotate this Case
At issue in this case was the meaning and application of the stockholders’ agreement between Babcock Power Inc. and its former executive, Eric Balles. Babcock terminated Balles’ employment after discovering that he was engaged in an extramarital affair with a female subordinate. Concluding that Balles had been terminated “for cause” under the terms of his stockholders’ agreement with the company, the company’s board of directors “repurchased” Balles’ stock at a minimal price, withheld subsequent dividends, and refused to pay Balles any severance. Balles sought declaratory relief seeking that the stock be returned to him along with the withheld dividends. Balles prevailed at a jury-waived trial on his claim for declaratory relief but was unsuccessful in his request to receive severance pay. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial judge properly reviewed the board’s decision on a de novo basis; (2) the judge did not err in determining that Balles’ conduct did not constitute “cause” as defined in the stockholders’ agreement; and (3) Balles was not precluded from seeking relief pursuant to the terms of the stockholders’ agreement.