United States District Court, District of Columbia
RONALD E. PECK, Plaintiff,
SELEX SYSTEMS INTEGRATION, INC. et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION [Dkts. ## 65, 66, 67]
RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge
Peck ("plaintiff or "Peck") has sued SELEX
Systems Integration, Inc. ("Selex") and SELEX
Sistemi Integrati, Inc. Key Employee Deferred Compensation
Plan (the "Plan") for benefits and compensation
that he alleges he accrued during his employment as an
executive for Selex. Counts I and III allege state law breach
of contract claims seeking severance pay and relocation
expenses, whereas Count II seeks deferred compensation
benefits from the Plan under the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act ("ERISA"). Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 33]. In
March 2016, I granted summary judgment to the defendants on
Count II of the Amended Complaint. See 03/24/16 Mem.
Op. and Order [Dkts. ## 52, 53].
2017, I held a bench trial and heard oral arguments on Counts
I and III of the Amended Complaint. After the trial, the
parties presented proposed findings of facts and conclusions
of law on Counts I and III. [Dkts. # 66, 67] In July,
plaintiff moved the Court to reconsider its March 2016
decision granting summary judgment to the defendants on Count
II. [Dkt. # 65] Upon careful consideration of the record, the
proposed findings of fact, and the plaintiffs motion to
reconsider, I find that Mr. Peck is not entitled to severance
pay under the terms of his at-will employment agreement, but
is entitled to the closing costs from the sale of his home
under the relocation agreement he entered with Selex. As a
result, I will enter judgment for Selex on Count I and
judgment for plaintiff on Count III. In addition, I find that
plaintiff has not met the burden of showing that justice
requires me to reconsider my earlier judgment for defendants
on Count II and will therefore DENY his Motion for
Reconsideration of Count II.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Selex is a company based in Overland Park, Kansas, that
manufactures aviation navigation, landing, and surveillance
systems. 03/24/16 Mem. Op. at 2; 06/02/17 Trial Tr. at
43:15-25 [Dkt. # 62]. Plaintiff Ronald Peck is an engineer
who worked for Selex in both its Kansas and Washington, D.C.
offices from 1997 until 2012. 03/24/16 Mem. Op. at 2;
06/01/17 Trial Tr. at 64:13-17, 94:21-95:5 [Dkt. # 61]. In
September 2012, Selex terminated Peck, Selex's then-Vice
President of Business Development, after he declined to
return to the Overland Park, Kansas office to serve as the
Vice President of Quality Control and Business Improvement.
Pl's Trial Ex. 18, 10/01/12 Letter from Selex to Peck
his termination, Peck sued Selex for benefits he alleges he
accrued during his employment. In the operative Amended
Complaint he filed in this Court, Peck seeks:
nine months of severance pay totaling $151, 549 he claims he
was entitled to under the company's severance policy; (2)
$57, 020 in deferred compensation he claims he accrued under
the company's "top hat" deferred compensation
plan, and to which he claims he is entitled under ERISA; and
(3) a sales commission of $25, 195 paid on the sale of his
Overland Park, Kansas home. As mentioned above, I already
granted summary judgment to defendants on Peck's claim
for deferred compensation under ERISA, on the grounds that
the committee tasked with administering the deferred
compensation plan reasonably construed the plan's terms
when it determined that he had been terminated for cause.
See 03/24/16 Mem. Op. at 9-12.
1 and 2, 1 held a bench trial where I heard evidence and
testimony from the parties on Counts I and III of the Amended
Complaint. In addition to Mr. Peck himself, I heard witness
testimony from Gary Stevens, Selex Chief Financial Officer,
and Mike Warner, Selex Chief Executive Officer at the time of
Peck's termination. I heard closing arguments on June 5
and received proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law
on July 11. On July 11, the plaintiff also submitted his
motion to reconsider Count II of the Amended Complaint.
FINDINGS OF FACT
carefully considering the record and the parties'
proposed findings of fact, I find that the following facts
have been established by a preponderance of the evidence.
Systems Integration, Inc. is a company with headquarters in
Overland Park, Kansas, that manufactures aviation navigation,
landing, and surveillance systems. 06/02/17 Trial Tr. at
43:15-25, 44:18-20. Plaintiff Peck worked at Selex from April
1997 until September 2012. 06/01/17 Trial Tr. at 65:7-8,
March 2008, Peck became Selex's Vice President of
Business Development, where he was responsible for
Selex's efforts to expand its market in the United
States. Id. at 65:20-23, 66:22-67:3. As part of
those efforts, Selex opened a Washington, D.C. office in
August 2010 to ensure that Selex employees would be closer to
the Federal Aviation Administration and other potential
clients in the U.S. market. Id. at 67:6-17, 68:1-2.
At that time, Peck formally transferred his work to the
Washington, D.C. office from the Kansas office. Pl.'s
Trial Ex. 11, Peck Change of Status Form. From August 2010
until October 2011, Peck commuted from Kansas to the
Washington office on a weekly basis. 06/01/17 Trial Tr. at
February 2012 Relocation Agreement
October 2011, Peck and his wife moved to the Washington, D.C.
area, and they signed a lease for an Alexandria townhome in
December 2011. Id. at ...