S&C Wins Tenth Circuit Reversal for Spirit AeroSystems in Dispute with Ex-CEO

March 8, 2023

Spirit AeroSystems prevailed in its appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, as the court reversed a $45 million judgment against the company in a breach of contract case filed by its former CEO, Larry Lawson.
The dispute arose after Lawson left Spirit and tried to become CEO of a competitor, Arconic, which Spirit considered a breach of the agreement that Lawson and Spirit reached when Lawson stepped down as CEO. Spirit stopped paying him under that agreement and Lawson sued.
After Lawson prevailed in a bench trial in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, Sullivan & Cromwell briefed and argued the Tenth Circuit appeal. In its February 27 ruling, the appellate panel agreed with Spirit that Lawson had violated the contract and reversed the $45 million judgment. It remanded for the district court to decide whether the contract provisions conditioning Spirit's payments on Lawson's compliance are enforceable under Kansas law.
The S&C team representing Spirit is Jeff Wall, Morgan Ratner and Zoe Jacoby.