Defending a client’s good name

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In 2010, in what became one of the largest jury verdicts in the state, Zuckerman Spaeder took on and successfully defended Matthew Lawlor, the former CEO of Virginia-based Online Resources Corporation. Lawlor sued the company after he was forced out of his position as CEO in December 2009.

Lawlor was the founder of online banking pioneer Online Resources, which he led for 20 years. Lawlor alleged that after a large investor in Online Resources gained a seat on its board of directors, the company forced him out as CEO and refused to pay his severance. Upon forcing him into retirement, the company’s directors said his termination was based on performance, despite the fact that the company’s earnings-per-share were up 50 percent in 2009 in the midst of a national recession.

Achieving a record-setting win

After a three-week trial, a jury found in Mr. Lawlor’s favor on four of the five claims made against the company. The jury awarded $5.3 million in damages, finding that the company had breached contracts with Mr. Lawlor and that the company was unjustly enriched by not having paid the full value for his services.

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Two years later, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the trial court decision that, based on the evidence, Online Resources breached Mr. Lawlor’s severance agreement.

The win at trial was ranked one of Virginia’s largest verdicts in 2011. But more importantly, the Zuckerman Spaeder team was able to vindicate Mr. Lawlor after his two decades successfully leading the company and three years litigating in court.

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