An attorney fighting to retain former New York Stock Exchange chairman Richard Grasso’s $100 million compensation package told a higher court Wednesday that a fully informed “blue chip” board of directors approved the compensation and he should not be forced to give it back.
Grasso’s attorney, Gerson A. Zweifach, is seeking to have a lower court’s ruling for partial summary judgment issued last October thrown out and a jury trial ordered to hear all factual issues in the case.
In his arguments before a four-judge panel of the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, Zweifach contended that NYSE directors who approved Grasso’s compensation each year were a group of “highly sophisticated, highly willful executives.”
“If they felt hoodwinked they could have spoken out,” he said, or voted down the compensation plan.
“It was not like the compensation formula was hidden,” Zweifach said. “It was in his contract, which they approved each year.”
Assistant State Attorney General Avi Schick argued that the summary judgment ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos should stand.
Schick said that many of the board members did not know about Grasso’s Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan, or if they did know, they were not aware of the pension consequences that accrued each year.