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Vol. III, Issue No. 5
June 13, 2014
Dear ,

This month's Briefing features a few interesting cases. A court found that a Walgreen pharmacist who fired his gun at armed robbers was properly terminated for his actions.  A recent Michigan case highlighted a new type of family fight that can arise when a loved one dies without an estate plan. Last, a corporation's former employee was found to still be a shareholder over 20 years after his employment ended because proper redemption procedures weren't followed by the company.

Thanks to the State Bar of Michigan for publishing John and Eric's Trial Practice article on closing arguments! A copy of it was featured in this month's State Bar Journal.

Enjoy the summer!

Can You Fire Your Employee Because He Fired at Armed Robbers? Sixth Circuit Says Yes! 


In 2011, a Walgreen pharmacist with a valid concealed weapon permit shot at armed robbers during an attempted theft. He was working at the Walgreen store in Benton Harbor, Michigan, at the time of the incident.  A video of the incident is available by clicking the picture at right. No one was shot in the incident but several days later, he was terminated for violating Walgreen's non-escalation policy which prohibits arguing, pursuing or even calling police until after thieves leave the store.


In the June 2, 2014, decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Hoven v. Walgreen Co., the Court rejected the pharmacist's claim that his termination based on carrying a concealed weapon and engaging in self-defense violated public policy. Because Michigan law presumes employment relationships are terminable at will, a proper employment policy was in place and no public policy was violated, the Court affirmed the dismissal of the suit.


Although the termination in this case may have been a harsh result under the circumstances, well-drafted and consistently applied employee policies remain important for employers.

Think Your Dying Verbal Wishes Will Be Honored?  Think Again 

A recent Michigan case highlights yet another type of fight that can pit family members against each other when a 
relative dies without a will. 
In the case of In re Filbeck, the decedent was diagnosed with cancer several months prior to his death.  Because of insurance issues, the prescribed treatment would be expensive for him. One of the decedent's daughters from a prior marriage spearheaded a very successful fundraising campaign for the purpose of defraying medical expenses. At the time of death, approximately $30,000.00 remained in the account and neither a will nor any type of trust for the fundraiser proceeds existed. Although the court determined that the decedent had verbally advised his daughter to divide the remaining funds between her and a sister, the Court disregarded this wish. The Court held that "unfortunately, Stephen left no written instruction to that effect and there is no evidence that Stephen made any kind of delivery" of the funds to the daughters. The Court agreed with the decedent's second wife that the funds would be required to remain in his estate and at least partially pay off the mortgage on the house in which the second wife resided.
If you have questions about how to ensure your estate plans will be followed, contact Mark Snitchler.
How The Employee You Terminated 20 Years Ago Can Still Be a Shareholder in Your Company
Close up of pen on employment contract

Is it possible that the employee you terminated 20 years ago retains an ownership interest in your company? 


In the recent case of Turner v. J&J Slavik Inc., the Michigan Court of Appeals found that because an employee's shares were not redeemed pursuant to the procedures in the parties' stock redemption agreement when his employment terminated in 1992, he still holds an ownership interest in the company. The stock agreement provided that in the event of termination, the company would purchase all of the employee's shares of stock at a purchase price to be determined by a valuation procedure. However, no valuation occurred because the company simply represented to the employee that the shares were worthless.  The Court ruled that because the redemption procedure was not followed, the employee's stock was not canceled, and the employee did not lose his status as a shareholder. 


Employee termination procedures are critically important and errors can result in unintended consequences. Contact Eric Parzianello with any employee termination questions.

On Our Plate
- We were recently retained to provide litigation counsel to a United Kingdom corporation engaged in the medical equipment business in connection with a distributorship agreement dispute.  
- John Hubbard and Kenny Lee are currently representing a plaintiff in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration relating to a broker's failure to follow investment directions.

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