In their motion, filed with the court late Monday afternoon, attorney Dwight Davis argues that the salary information is not part of the matter raised in the underlying lawsuit, nor part of enforcing the settlement that was to resolve the suit.
“The compensation is irrelevant to enforcing the agreement settling the lawsuit because that agreement contains no provision relating to Mr. Brown’s employment … before February 28, 2011,” according to the motion. Further, Judge Schuster apparently acted on his own accord in demanding the information.
In a telephone interview, Davis said, “At some point you have to ask: Is there any authority for the judge to be running this company? What is the authority for some of these disclosures? We’ve tried to be good citizens about this. He ordered all 10 directors to his courtroom, even though not all 10 directors are defendants in the lawsuit.
“By taking the dates he has picked, it is terribly misleading. He was an employee there for 37 years, and as part of the settlement, his retirement plan was bought out. … This is unnecessary, trying to dredge up all the things that came out of the settlement, and things that were fully vetted in ’08. … To now, on the eve of these elections, order regurgitation of all that seems unfair to me,” Davis said.
In 2008, before the settlement was reached, the plaintiffs estimated that Brown, who was then president and CEO of both Cobb EMC and the for-profit Cobb Energy, earned $1.6 million annually in salary, stock dividends, retirement and other benefits.
Pitts Carr, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs who brought suit in October 2007, said he disagrees that the salary information is outside the court’s jurisdiction. He plans to file a response today.
“An important part of the (settlement) agreement was that they were to provide to the court information on the details of the implementations of the various provisions of Dwight Brown’s employment contract on a monthly basis. They have never provided any data at all on the resolution of his contract claims, and clearly the court is entitled to see that under the agreed provision,” Carr said.
Bo Pounds, one of the six plaintiffs, said the EMC doesn’t want to disclose Brown’s compensation because “it’s sizable.”
“Why shouldn’t we know? They don’t want anybody to know anything,” Pounds said. “The EMC is owned by the people, and we should know what they make, no matter what.”
Judge Schuster’s office has not said when he will rule on the motion, though the sides are due in his chambers on Sept. 28 to discuss the salary issue and to update the judge on the status of dissolving spin-off companies created under the for-profit Cobb Energy.
Judge Schuster also ordered Cobb EMC to disclose how much Brown was paid as a consultant after he retired on Feb. 28, and Davis said he intends to provide that information, though he declined to divulge that figure just yet.
“It is what it is,” he said.