The agreement, reached April 17, stipulates HIGPA pay Betz an undisclosed amount to settle the lawsuit filed by Betz in June 2006.
Neither HIGPA officials nor Betz would comment on details of the settlement, saying confidentiality clauses precluded them from revealing the terms. But in a written statement issued by HIGPA officials last week in response to inquiries, Chairman Darrel Weatherford said the Washington-based organization was pleased to have reached a settlement, and that the groups board of directors wishes Robert Betz and Associates all the best.
According to the court documents, Betz sued HIGPA on June 28, 2006, for room commissions that were supposed to be paid to him by the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, Calif.the host of HIGPAs 2006 National Pharmacy Forum. Betz negotiated the agreement before leaving the organization in 2005, but when he called on the Ritz-Carlton to collect an expected $6,476.20 in commissions, he learned HIGPA officials were blocking payment of the fees, according to Betzs lawsuit.
I had approval from a previous chairman to collect the (10%) fee, and its standard practice in the travel industry, said Betz in an interview. He declined to say which former chairman approved the oral contract alleged by his lawsuit.
A HIGPA countersuit alleged, however, that Betz did not have permission to collect hotel commissions on HIGPA events, and doing so was a violation of the contract. According to countersuit claims filed in Arlington County (Va.) Circuit Court, Betzs contract stipulated an annual salary of $566,000 plus cost-of-living increases. He also received an incentive compensation of 25% of the net earnings of HIGPAs trade shows, exhibitions and educational conferences after the first $5,000.
Betzs arrangements to collect 10% commissions from host hotels were made in secrecy over a five-year period beginning in 2001, asserts the countersuit, and resulted in $250,000 in additional fees that should have gone to the organization. Betz disputed HIGPAs claims in his answer to the countersuit, and in a phone interview noted that the organization had, in fact, agreed to a settlement.
According to Betzs attorney, Charles Thomas of Bean, Kinney & Korman, an agreement to settle was reached earlier this year, but ended up back in court in April over the terms.
Betzs wife, Kathy Betz, also was named as a defendant in HIGPAs countersuit. She served as legal counsel to HIGPA during Robert Betz Associates 2000-2005 management contract with the organization, according to court documents.