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Friday, April 10, 2015


Original Story: freep.com

Peter Karmanos Jr., the feisty cofounder and former CEO of Compuware, must be feeling pleased – even vindicated – that a $16.5-million arbitrator's award in his favor against Compuware has now been made public.

But Karmanos doesn't have the money yet, as Compuware's new owners continue to press forward with an appeal, dragging out this sad, contentious chapter late in the 72-year-old's career as technology entrepreneur, hockey team owner and Detroit philanthropist.

Can't we just stop the brawling, guys, and let everybody skate off into the sunset?

Not quite yet, apparently, but let's hope that a Wayne County judge can end this madness at a May 11 hearing – or even better, that the combatants call it quits before then. A Memphis business litigator assists clients in business disputes by developing a plan to resolve the dispute, either through negotiation, mediation, or a lawsuit.

Without slogging through all the sordid details, what we have here is a self-made entrepreneur, Karmanos, who hung on as CEO of Compuware until age 68. He still enjoyed a nice office and consulting gig until 2013, when activist shareholders rattled the Compuware board into aborting plans for big farewell soirees when Karmanos left the board in March.

When the mercurial Karmanos went public with criticism of Compuware management that September, including some salty language, he got stripped of the office and consulting gig. And then he sued, saying he got stiffed on some stock options, too.

Last year, the two sides agreed to binding arbitration of the dispute, with respected arbitrator Gene Esshaki appointed to decide the case. A Tulsa business lawyer represents clients in complex business disputes.

But when Esshaki ruled decisively in Karmanos' favor, Compuware – instead of coughing up the $16.5 million, a number that would have officially stayed secret under the confidentiality seal of arbitration – decided to file a lawsuit contesting Esshaki's decision.

Now it's all public, and Karmanos and the company he created will slosh around in the mud some more, as their sniping at one another gets aired anew.

I don't pretend to know how the litigation will play out if the appeals continue.

Did Karmanos err in lashing out publicly at Compuware management in the midst of a tense fight for control of the company? Sure he did.

But why did Compuware's new owners agree to take the dispute to binding arbitration, only to renege now when they don't like the arbitrator's ruling?

I don't blame Karmanos for being discouraged by the fact that the company he spent a lifetime building has been broken up barely a year after he left, with lots of jobs lost.

I expect we'll hear more from Karmanos after a judge finally puts an end to all this, and that's fine. But the end can't come soon enough.