Consol Energy, Inc. v. Hummel (Signed Opinion)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs worked in coal mining operations under Consolidated Coal Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CONSOL Energy, Inc. In 2013, CONSOL sold Consolidated Coal Company to Murray Energy Corporation. Prior to the sale, Plaintiffs’ terms of employment included CONSOL’s Equity Incentive Plan that provided for the award of CONSOL common stock to Plaintiffs in Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). The award of RSUs was subject to a vesting schedule. Pursuant to an Award Agreement, the vesting of RSUs would accelerate upon the occurrence of certain events. The acceleration event in controversy was the phrase “change in control.” At the time of the sale, Plaintiffs had been awarded RSUs. Plaintiffs argued that they were entitled to accelerated vesting of the unvested portion of the RSUs pursuant to the Award Agreement because a “change in control” occurred when CONSOL sold Consolidated Coal Company. CONSOL failed to accelerate the RSUs and asserted that Plaintiffs’ unvested RSUs were forfeited. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the phrase “change in control” under the Award Agreement necessarily included CONSOL’s subsidiary, Consolidated Coal Company; and (2) the sale of Consolidated Coal Company to Murray Energy Corporation triggered the accelerated vesting of Plaintiffs’ RSUs.