Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chicago Cubs Sue Mark Guthrie to Recover on Payroll Error

Chicago National League Ballclub, Inc. v. Guthrie
Middlesex County, Connecticut, MMX-CV04-0104650-S

What happened?

Mark Guthrie was a big lefty reliever who pitched for 8 teams over the course of his 15-year Major League career, which included a World Series victory with the Minnesota Twins in 1991. He played for the Chicago Cubs from 1999 to 2000 and again in 2003. His salary in 2003, which was his last in the Majors, was $1.6 million.

A man with the same name, Mark Guthrie, delivered newspapers for The Courant newspaper in the tiny Connecticut town of Old Saybrook. He presumably made much less than the Cubs’ Guthrie.

The Tribune Company, based in Chicago, Illinois owned both the Chicago Cubs and The Courant newspaper at the time. Due to a mix-up, someone from the Tribune deposited over $300,000 into the wrong Mark Guthrie’s bank account. Suddenly, Connecticut’s Mark Guthrie was flush with cash.

Mr. Guthrie realized that he was paid in error and contacted the Tribune to straighten out the mix-up. He eventually returned all but $26,000, seeking assurances that he would not be liable for taxes on the mistaken payroll deposit into his account.

After Mr. Guthrie froze his account, however, the Chicago Cubs filed this lawsuit in an attempt to recover the amount that had been held back.

Who won?

A settlement was reached and the case was dismissed in January, 2005. The Cubs had filed a motion for summary judgment that was not heard. Mr. Guthrie was satisfied that the IRS would not have any issues with the sudden influx of cash to his account.

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