$143 Million Awarded for Wrongful Termination

Man hitting gavel

James Duke VanLue had proof of his ideas to develop Downhole Technology, a manufacturing company that several years later obtained an offer from a foreign buyer for $103 million. This month, a Houston judge ruled in VanLue’s favor and awarded him $143 million compensation for damages and will soon consider Porter Hedges request for attorney’s fees which will add millions more to the judgement.

Allegedly, VanLue’s leadership led to Downhole’s profits between 2016 and 2018 increased by more than 700 percent. Two year after the acquisition, Downhole’s board of directors wrongfully terminated VanLue for no cause at first, then, several months later, for cause. By fall 2018 the company gained VanLue’s ownership interest without compensating him. VanLue’s character has been damaged and he has lost wages for this wrongful termination.

VanLue claimed that the company’s reasons for termination was due to “a failed SBA gamble” to buy him out at a lower price. When the company’s performance exceeded the board’s expectations, VanLue argued, SBA developed a scheme to stunt the company’s EBITDA growth and to push him out in the process. The board changed the termination “for cause” after an investigation “revealed a complex fraud created by VanLue,” during the trial Downhole and SBA failed to come up with any meaningful evidence substantiating claims. On November 12, Judge Caroline Baker sided with VanLue on all the issues including that Downhole had no contractual right to change VanLue’s termination to “for cause” nor to seize his ownership interest.

If you feel that you have been wrongfully terminated, or you have been discriminated against because of your disability and would like to know your rights as an employee in the state of California, please contact the attorneys at the California Employment Legal Group today for a free consultation with an experienced employment lawyer.