A Superior Court judge Monday denied a request by a group of shareholders of Home Depot to temporarily block the world's largest home improvement store chain from paying former Chief Executive Bob Nardelli any more of his $210 million severance package.
Judge Craig Schwall denied the request for a restraining order but did rule that several current and former senior officers and directors of the company, including Nardelli, will be subject to depositions, said Darren J. Robbins, a lawyer for the investors.
Robbins said Nardelli's attorney indicated during a hearing Monday that his client would not dissipate any more of the money from his severance until the lawsuit by the investor group is resolved. But Robbins acknowledged Nardelli could if he wanted.
Robbins suggested he likely would not appeal the judge's ruling not to issue the restraining order.
Atlanta-based Home Depot said in a written statement that "the court has denied the motion for a preliminary injunction and we will continue to cooperate with the court as the proceedings continue."
The request for a temporary restraining order was made in Fulton County Superior Court by the shareholders as part of a previously filed lawsuit alleging that Home Depot overpaid senior executives and backdated stock options in violation of their fiduciary duties.
Earlier this month, Home Depot announced that Nardelli had resigned after six years at Home Depot's helm amid a furor over his pay and Home Depot's lagging stock price. Nardelli was replaced by vice chairman Frank Blake.
As part of the resignation, the company said Nardelli would receive a severance package worth about $210 million. Some of the benefits have already been paid. Home Depot said Nardelli's departure was mutually agreed to by him and the company.
In the restraining order request, the shareholders group said the company "will suffer additional irreparable harm if Nardelli is allowed to receive the full benefit" of the severance package.
The lead plaintiff is the city of Pontiac, Mich.'s employee retirement fund, which holds Home Depot shares.