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Arbritration Panel Awards Former Executives of Applied Biosystems $17.4 Million for Lost Benefits

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – An arbitration board has awarded five former employees of Applied Biosystems $17.4 million in "unpaid change in control benefits" resulting from the merger of that firm with Invitrogen in 2008, resulting in the formation of Life Technologies.

The board has ordered Life Tech to pay Dennis Winger; Thomas Livingston; John Ostaszewski; Barbara Kerr; and Ugo DeBlasi a total of $6.8 million in damages, as well as $10.6 million in excise and income tax gross-ups after the board found that Life Tech breached their employment agreements.

The claimants were employees of ABI when it merged with Invitrogen. Winger was senior vice president and CFO; Kerr was senior vice president of human resources; Livingston was vice president and secretary; DeBlasi was vice president and controller; and Ostaszewski was vice president and treasurer.

Each was involuntarily terminated by Life Tech following the merger and claimed that their incentive compensation became due from Life Tech after the Carlsbad, Calif.-based firm assumed the obligations of the executives' employment agreements.

Life Tech claimed that the executives misread their agreements and were not entitled to continued stock-based benefit awards.

In its finding, though, the arbitration board found that Life Tech "made no effort to provide [the claimed benefits] and the claimants are entitled to them."

The board awarded Dennis Winger a total of about $7.0 million; Livingston $1.9 million; Ostaszewski $1.8 million; Kerr $4.7 million; and DeBlasi $2.1 million.

"This ruling resolves a contractual dispute with former executives of ABI and will have no ongoing impact on our business," Life Technologies said in a statement to GenomeWeb Daily News.