Lawsuit alleges Mercury failed to pay bonuses

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Mercury Marine is being sued for allegedly failing to pay bonuses that were promised to about 100 managers if they achieved significant cost savings across the company.

The suit was originally filed last month in Wisconsin's Fond du Lac County Circuit Court by Henry Hegel, a Mercury manager who lives in North Carolina. The company filed papers this week to have the case transferred to Federal District Court in Green Bay, Wis.

Mercury officials could not be reached this morning for comment.

According to court documents, Mercury executives met with about 100 management employees in April 2008 to discuss a bonus incentive plan aimed at reducing costs. The managers were asked "to take difficult and aggressive steps, which required above and beyond their normal duties to achieve company-wide cost savings."

In exchange, the managers were promised a bonus at the end of calendar year 2008 amounting to 10 percent of the cost savings achieved. Those cost savings totaled about $78 million. However, in early 2009, Mercury notified plan participants that it had decided not to pay out any bonuses, according to the suit.

The complaint alleges breach of unilateral contract, wage claim, quantum meruit, unjust enrichment and breach of an implied duty of good faith and fair dealing.

The complaint seeks recovery of allegedly owed wages on behalf of Hegel and the purported class. This includes $7 million for the bonuses, plus a civil penalty of 50 percent, bringing the total award request to more than $10 million.

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