Mercury managers file $10 million lawsuit

FOND DU LAC, Wis. – Nearly 100 managers at Mercury Marine have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging their parent company failed to pay them $7 million in bonus money they are due for helping it save $78 million in 2008, the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper reported in a story yesterday.

The suit seeks class-action status of the managers and payment of the $7 million bonus, plus an enhanced $3.5 million penalty, for a total of $10.5 million, according to the story.

The complaint alleges that during a meeting in April 2008, Mercury announced a cost-reduction program to the managers, asking them to take aggressive measures over and above usual efforts to trim operating costs for the remainder of the year. In exchange, the managers would receive at year-end an equal and fixed bonus of nearly 10 percent of the amount saved, the newspaper reported.

The managers took aggressive cost-savings measures in 2008 and achieved cost reductions of $78 million. However, despite repeated demands to pay the bonus, the company refused, according to the story.

The suit was originally filed in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court in August by a Mercury manager living in Pinehurst, N.C. But, in an action filed Monday, Mercury is seeking to have the case moved to federal district court in Green Bay. If the plaintiffs do not contest that action, the suit will be a federal case, the newspaper reported.

Mercury released a statement saying it does not respond to pending lawsuits, but noted that Brunswick did not pay bonuses in 2009 because of the weak market conditions.

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