News and Results : Michelle Stratton Argues Contract Dispute in the Texas Supreme Court News and Results : Michelle Stratton Argues Contract Dispute in the Texas Supreme Court

Michelle Stratton Argues Contract Dispute in the Texas Supreme Court

Michelle Stratton Argues Contract Dispute in the Texas Supreme Court

On February 2, SKV counsel Michelle Stratton argued on behalf of Respondent Baylor Miraca Genetics Laboratories in the Supreme Court of Texas.  In 2018, Brandon Perthuis sued Baylor Genetics, his former employer, 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 potential customer for Baylor Genetics during his employment, he is entitled to commission “in perpetuity” on all sales Baylor Genetics ever makes to that customer.

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 could earn 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.” So instructed, the jury rendered a nearly $1M verdict for Perthuis. Following appellate briefing led by Ms. Stratton, Houston’s First Court of Appeals reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment, agreeing with Baylor Genetics that the employment contract unambiguously promised commissions only on sales Perthuis made during his employment. The court held that Baylor Genetics had not breached the employment contract because it paid Perthuis all commissions he earned during his employment. The case has now reached the Texas Supreme Court, where the justices will decide whether “procuring cause” is the correct earnings standard or whether, as the court of appeals held, the parties had a different agreement about when and on what commission was earned.

SKV’s lawyers have significant federal and state appellate experience. Our team has briefed and argued cases in the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and other federal appellate courts, the Texas Supreme Court, and intermediate Texas courts of appeals. Additionally, over half of our lawyers completed judicial clerkships in federal appellate courts.  

To view the briefing video, visit the link below: 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pWtuziF30jM