Sunday, March 25, 2007

Weaver v. Schartiger (Maryland U.S.D.C.) (Not approved for publication)

Signed March 23, 2007. Memorandum and Order by Judge Catherine C. Blake (not approved for publication)

Upon consideration, the motion for partial summary judgment of the defendant ("Schartiger") is GRANTED except as to any claim for compensation due under the terms of the Agent Agreement, and the motion to compel of the plaintiff ("Weaver") is DENIED.

This case arose out of the termination of an Agency Agreement (the "Agreement") between Schartiger, owner of an insurance company, and Weaver, a former agent of the company. The Agreement was entered into to define the relationship of Weaver as an independent contractor working with, but not for, Schartiger, and set forth formulas for compensation, both during and after the term of the Agreement. The Agreement was to be "continuous", and contemplated annual review of the Agreement by the parties. When negotiations initiated by Schartiger to end the Agreement and move Weaver into an employee status were resisted by Weaver, Schartiger unilaterally terminated the Agreement, and Weaver filed suit.

The judge found that, under Maryland law, an employment contract without a stated duration is at will, terminable by either party, and thus Weaver's request for a declaratory judgment that the Agreement was not terminable must fail.

Likewise, Weaver's claim that she possessed an ownership interest in the business must fail, in light of explicit language in the agreement that Weaver was to be an independent contractor and that all policies and business produced were the exclusive property of Schartiger. Any implication that a provision in the Agreement that Weaver might receive 25% of the sale price of the company indicated an ownership interest was negated by the right of first refusal provision in the Agreement, which would require Weaver to pay the same price as a third-party bidder, indicating no such ownership interest.

The judge concluded that, except for any compensation due to Weaver under the Agreement, for which calculation sufficient information has already been provided, negating the need for further discovery, all her claims were denied.

The Memorandum and Order are available in PDF format.

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