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Barton v. Hewlett-Packard Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 9, 2014

CARL J. BARTON, Plaintiff,
v.
HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

CATHY BISSOON, District Judge.

I. MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Carl J. Barton ("Plaintiff") filed the instant lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County asserting a breach of contract action under Pennsylvania law for failure to pay incentive compensation. (Doc. 1-2). Defendant Hewlett-Packard Company ("Defendant"), properly removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). (Doc. 1). Presently pending before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 19), which, for the reasons stated below, will be granted.

A. Background [1]

Defendant is a global technology company that provides a full array of technology-related products and services, including information technology and enterprise software. (Doc. 36 at ¶ 1).[2] Plaintiff began working for Vertica Systems, Inc. ("Vertica"), an analytical database software company, in February 2011 as a sales representative, and his territory included several Midwestern states, including Michigan. ( Id. at ¶¶1-2). Shortly thereafter, Defendant acquired Vertica, and Plaintiff became a salesperson for Defendant assigned to the same Midwestern territory. ( Id. at ¶ 3).

Plaintiff was issued a "Sales Letter" at the end of April 2012, effective February 1, 2012, which set forth the parameters upon which his incentive compensation calculation would be based. (Doc. 22-1 at p. 2; Doc. 36 at ¶ 5). Plaintiff's prorated quota for fiscal year 2012 was $1.3 million. (Doc. 22-1 at p. 2; Doc. 36 at ¶ 7). Plaintiff's quota was set based on a multitude of factors, including an analysis of what had been sold in the territory previously, what his "pipeline" looked like, and his skill set. (Doc. 36 at ¶ 7). If Plaintiff matched his quota, he would be paid a 6.52% base commission rate up to the quota amount, resulting in a sales commission of approximately $84, 760. ( Id. at ¶ 8). Plaintiff's Sales Letter also included accelerated commission rates, ranging from 7.82% to 18.25% if he exceeded his quota amount. ( Id. at ¶ 9).

Plaintiff's Sales Letter expressly incorporated, through an electronic link, Defendant's Global Sales Compensation Policy, which stated, inter alia :

HP reserves the right to adjust or cancel the terms of Sales plans, or Sales letters with or without notice at any time, including but not limited to adjusting accounts, goals/quotas, target incentive amount (TIA) or to address changing or unforeseen business conditions or to correct administrative errors. HP also reserves the right to change or discontinue this Policy, with or without notice, at any time.

(Doc. 22-1 at p. 3; Doc. 22-2 at p. 6). Plaintiff's Sales Letter contained similar language:

HP reserves the right to adjust the terms of the Sales Plan or to cancel at any time. To the extent allowed by law, the various components of your compensation are subject to change in accordance with the governing policies described above.

(Doc. 22-1 at p. 4).

Defendant's Global Sales Compensation Policy included a Management Incentive Performance Review ("MIPR") policy. (Doc. 22-2 at p. 22). The stated purpose of this policy was "to evaluate Sales employee performance significantly above quota or for the evaluation of credit for large' deals." (Doc. 22-2 at p. 22). The MIPR provided, in pertinent part that:

[A] management review may occur for large transactions, including groups of related transactions. The Sales employee should have no expectation of receiving incentive payments in connection with these large transactions where the credit is disproportionate to the employee's assigned quota or to the employee's ...

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