Thursday December 3, 2020
In 2018, Brandon Perthuis sued his former employer, Baylor Genetics Miraca Laboratories, for breach of contract, alleging that Baylor Genetics owed him over $1.5 million in sales commissions on sales that Baylor Genetics made after Perthuis was no longer employed (and had gone to work for Baylor Genetics’ competitor). According to Perthuis, if he procured a customer for Baylor Genetics during his employment, he was entitled to commission on all sales Baylor Genetics made to that customer “in perpetuity.”
Representing Baylor Genetics at the jury trial, SKV partners Land Murphy and Jarod Stewart pointed to the unambiguous terms of the employment contract that governed Perthuis’ commissions, explaining that the parties did not agree that Perthuis would receive commission on sales made after his employment ended. Nevertheless, the trial court instructed the jury that Perthuis could receive commissions on such sales if he was their “procuring cause.” The jury then rendered a nearly $1M verdict for Perthuis.
On December 3, 2020, Houston’s First Court of Appeals reversed and rendered judgment that Perthuis take nothing. Following briefing by SKV’s Michelle Stratton, the appellate court saw no need for oral argument, agreeing with Baylor Genetics that the employment contract unambiguously promised commissions only on sales Perthuis made during his employment. The court further agreed that “nothing in the language of the [contract] indicated that the parties intended to pay commissions under a procuring-cause standard.” The court then concluded that Baylor Genetics had not breached the employment contract because it undisputedly paid Perthuis all commissions he earned during his employment.
“Baylor Genetics takes great pride in how well we reward our employees,” said Vice President and General Counsel Maryam Tabatabai. “We are grateful that with SKV’s representation the court of appeals recognized Perthuis was paid in full pursuant to the terms of his agreement.”
Baylor Genetics is a joint venture of Baylor College of Medicine and H.U. Group, Inc., a Japanese public company.