LOS ANGELES - A jury has awarded $2 million to a man who developed a unique fuel additive several years ago and claimed his employer improperly phased him out of millions of dollars he was owed in a profit-sharing agreement.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury reached its verdict Thursday in favor of George Sturges Jr. and against Casey Co. Sturges alleged the firm initially adhered to the profit-sharing agreement, then later unlawfully reneged on the terms of the contract.
Casey Co., which has its principal location in Long Beach, is the parent corporation for Kern Fuels Research, LLC, and Kern Oil & Refining Company. Both are located in Kern County near Bakersfield.
Sturges was an employee with the company since 1983. He sued Casey Co. in January 2011 for breach of contract.
In the mid-1990's, Sturges developed a formula for a diesel fuel additive. He maintained he was primarily responsible for marketing and selling the diesel fuel additive, resulting in millions of dollars a year in profits for the company.
After nearly 10 years of these efforts and responsibilities, Casey Co. offered to compensate Sturges with a profit-sharing agreement, and as part of company restructuring, offered him a new position as vice president, the suit stated.
Under this new profit-sharing arrangement, Sturges began selling the additive, generating over $70 million in net profits in 2007 and 2008 for the company, according to the suit.
After two years of honoring the agreement, in early 2009, Casey Co. demoted Sturges and reduced his profit-sharing percentage by half, the suit stated.
"'George Sturges loyally worked for the company, earning it over $70 million in profits over two years," said his attorney, Ricardo Echeverria. "They had no good faith reason to demote him. We were very pleased that the jury held the company accountable to their original promise."
Defense attorneys maintained Sturges did not have a contract with the company and that he suffered no damages.
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(Originally published July 27, 2012, in the Press-Telegram>)