Employment Agreement dated June 8, 2021, between Registrant and Kevin Leon Cook

Contract Categories: Human Resources - Employment Agreements
EX-10.3 4 ex10-3.htm


Exhibit 10.3



EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT (this “Agreement”) is made June 8, 2021, by and between Lineage Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (“Company”), a California corporation, and Kevin L. Cook (“Executive”).


NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the terms and conditions hereinafter set forth, the parties hereto agree as follows:


1. Engagement; Position and Duties.


(a) Position and Duties. Company agrees to employ Executive in the position of Chief Financial Officer to perform the duties as outlined on Exhibit A and as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Board of Directors of the Company (the “Board of Directors”) may from time to time direct or require. Executive shall report to the CEO. Executive shall devote his best efforts, skills and abilities, on a full-time basis, exclusively to Company’s business. Executive covenants and agrees to faithfully adhere to and fulfill such policies as are established from time to time by the Board of Directors or Company (collectively, the “Policies”).


(b) No Conflicting Obligations. Executive represents and warrants to Company that Executive is under no obligations or commitments, whether contractual or otherwise, that are inconsistent with Executive’s obligations under this Agreement or that would prohibit Executive, contractually or otherwise, from performing Executive’s duties under this Agreement and/or the Policies.


(c) No Unauthorized Use of Third Party Intellectual Property. Executive represents and warrants to Company that Executive will not use or disclose, in connection with Executive’s employment by Company, any patents, trade secrets, confidential information, or other proprietary information or intellectual property as to which any other person has any right, title or interest, except to the extent that Company holds a valid license or other written permission for such use from the owner(s) thereof. Executive represents and warrants to Company that Executive has returned all property and confidential information belonging to any prior employer.


(d) Start Date. Executive shall commence employment with Company on June 21, 2021 or such other date as mutually agreed upon by Executive and Company (the date on which Executive actually commences employment with Company, the “Start Date”).


2. Compensation


(a) Salary. During the term of this Agreement, Company shall pay to the Executive an annual salary of $405,000.00 (minus applicable taxes, deductions and withholdings). Executive’s salary shall be paid in equal semi-monthly installments, consistent with Company’s regular salary payment practices. Executive’s salary may be adjusted from time-to-time by Company, in Company’s sole and absolute discretion, without affecting the rights or obligations of Executive or Company under this Agreement.


(b) Sign-on Bonus. Company shall pay Executive a one-time sign-on bonus of $15,000 (minus applicable taxes, deductions and withholdings) on the date of the first regular payroll following the Start Date.


(c) Relocation Expense Reimbursement. Company shall reimburse Executive up to $5,000 per month for rent actually paid by Executive for housing for Executive in San Diego County, California for up to 6-months following the date on which Executive signs a lease for such housing (“Rent Payments”). Company shall have no obligation to reimburse Executive for the Rent Payments unless Executive submits evidence to Company of the amount actually paid by Executive during such 6-month period.





(d) Bonus. Executive may be eligible for an annual bonus targeted at 40% of Executive’s annual salary, as may be approved by the Board of Directors (or the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors (the “Compensation Committee”)) in its discretion, based on Executive’s achievement of predetermined Company and/or individual objectives set by the Board of Directors or the Compensation Committee, from time to time. Executive also agrees that neither the Board of Directors nor Company is obligated to adopt any bonus plan, to maintain in effect any bonus plan that may now be in effect or that may be adopted during the term of Executive’s employment, or to pay Executive a bonus unless a bonus is earned under the terms and conditions of any bonus plan adopted by Company. The annual bonus for 2021 will be pro-rated by multiplying (i) the amount of the bonus earned by Executive for 2021, if any, by (ii) a fraction, the numerator of which is the number of days between the Start Date and December 31, 2021, and the denominator of which is 365.


(e) Expense Reimbursements. Company shall reimburse Executive for reasonable travel and other business expenses (but not expenses of commuting to a primary workplace) incurred by Executive in the performance of Executive’s duties under this Agreement, subject to, and in accordance with, the Policies and Company procedures in effect from time to time, and provided that Executive submits supporting vouchers.


(f) Benefit Plans. Executive may be eligible (to the extent Executive qualifies) to participate in certain retirement, pension, life, health, accident and disability insurance, equity incentive plan or other similar employee benefit plans (collectively, “Benefit Plans”), which may be adopted by Company from time to time for its executive officers or other employees, in each case, subject to the terms thereof, including any eligibility requirements thereof. Company has the right, at any time and without any amendment of this Agreement, and without prior notice to or consent from Executive, to adopt, amend, change, or terminate any and all Benefit Plans that may now be in effect or that may be adopted in the future, in each case without any further obligation (financial or otherwise) to Executive; provided that any such amendment, change or termination effected without the consent of Executive does not apply to Executive in a manner that is substantially different than it applies to other Company executives or employees of a comparable executive level, except for amendments, changes or terminations required by applicable federal, state or local law or regulation, or implemented in response to any change of federal, state or local law or regulation. Any benefits to which Executive may be entitled under any Benefit Plan shall be governed by the terms and conditions of the applicable Benefit Plan, and any related plan documents, as in effect from time to time. If Executive receives any grant of stock options or stock or stock related equity awards (“Awards”) under any stock option plan, stock purchase plan, or other equity incentive plan of Company (an “Equity Plan”), the terms and conditions of the Award, and Executive’s rights with respect to the Award, shall be governed by (i) the terms of the Equity Plan, as the same may be amended from time to time, and (ii) the terms and conditions of any stock option agreement, stock purchase agreement, or other agreement that Executive may sign or be required to sign with respect to any Award.


(g) Vacation; Sick Leave. Executive shall be entitled to 20 paid time off (“PTO”) days (accrued on a semi-monthly pay period basis and capped at 1.5 times the yearly accrual), 24 hours of annual sick leave, without reduction in compensation, during each calendar year, or as may be provided by the Policies. Executive’s vacation shall be taken at such time as is consistent with the Company needs and the Policies. All PTO days and sick leave hours shall accrue annually based upon days of service. Executive’s right to leave from work due to illness is subject to the Policies and the provisions of this Agreement governing termination due to disability, sickness or illness. The Policies governing the disposition of unused PTO days and sick leave hours remaining at the end of Company’s fiscal year shall govern whether unused vacation days or sick leave hours will be paid, lost, or carried over into subsequent fiscal years.


(h) Stock Option Grant. Executive shall be granted a stock option to purchase up to 750,000 shares of Company common stock (the “Option”). The Option: (1) will have an exercise price equal to the closing price of Company common stock on the grant date, (2) will vest as to ¼ of the shares subject to the Option on the first anniversary of the Start Date and the remainder of the shares will vest in a series of 36 successive substantially equal monthly installments thereafter, and (3) will be subject to the terms set forth in Company’s equity incentive plan pursuant to which the Option grant is made and to the terms of the stock option agreement Executive will be required to sign with respect to the Option.


(i) Withholdings. All compensation payable to Executive, including amounts payable under Section 5, if any, is subject to applicable taxes, deductions and withholdings.





3. Competitive Activities. During the term of Executive’s employment, and for 24 months thereafter, Executive shall not, for Executive or any third party, directly or indirectly employ, solicit for employment or recommend for employment any person employed by Company. During the term of Executive’s employment, Executive shall not, directly or indirectly as an employee, contractor, officer, director, member, partner, agent, or equity owner, engage in any activity or business that competes or could reasonably be expected to compete with the business of Company. Executive acknowledges that there is a substantial likelihood that the activities described in this Section would (a) involve the unauthorized use or disclosure of Company’s confidential information and that use or disclosure would be extremely difficult to detect, and (b) result in substantial competitive harm to the business of Company. Executive has accepted the limitations of this Section as a reasonably practicable and unrestrictive means of preventing such use or disclosure of Company confidential information and preventing such competitive harm.


4. Inventions/Intellectual Property/Confidential Information. Executive acknowledges the execution and delivery to Company of an Employee Confidential Information and Inventions Assignment Agreement” (the “Confidentiality and IP Agreement”), attached hereto as Exhibit B.


5. Termination of Employment. Executive understands and agrees that Executive’s employment has no specific term. This Agreement, and the employment relationship, are “at will” and may be terminated by Executive or by Company with or without cause at any time by notice given orally or in writing. Except as otherwise agreed in writing signed on behalf of the Company with the express authorization of the Board of Directors or the Compensation Committee or as otherwise provided in this Agreement, upon termination of Executive’s employment, Company shall have no further obligation to Executive, by way of compensation or otherwise.


(a) Payments Due Upon Termination of Employment. Upon termination of Executive’s employment with Company at any time and for any reason, in the event of the termination of Executive’s employment by Company for Cause, or termination of Executive’s employment as a result of death, Disability (as defined below), or resignation, Executive will be entitled to receive only the severance benefits set forth below, and Executive will not be entitled to any other compensation, award, or damages with respect to Executive’s employment or termination of employment.


  (i) Termination for Cause, Death, Disability, or Resignation. In the event of the termination of Executive’s employment by Company for Cause or as a result of the death or Disability of Executive or if Executive resigns , Executive will be entitled to receive payment for all accrued but unpaid salary actually earned prior to or as of the date of termination of Executive’s employment, and PTO accrued as of the date of termination of Executive’s employment. Executive will not be entitled to any severance benefits or additional vesting of any stock options or other equity or cash awards.


  (ii) Termination Without Cause, or Resignation for Good Reason. In the event of termination of Executive’s employment by Company without Cause or if Executive resigns for Good Reason, Executive will be entitled to: (A) the benefits set forth in paragraph (a)(i) of this Section; (B) 9 months’ base salary, paid in a lump sum or, at the election of Company, in installments consistent with Company’s payroll procedures; (C) payment of a prorated target bonus due, if any, for the year in which Executive was terminated without Cause; and (D) payment, for a period of 6 months, of any health insurance benefits Executive was receiving at the time of termination of Executive’s employment under a Company employee health insurance plan subject to COBRA.
  (iii) Change of Control. If Company (or any successor in interest to Company that has assumed Company’s obligation under this Agreement) terminates Executive’s employment without Cause or if Executive resigns for Good Reason, in each case, within the one-year period following the effective date of a Change in Control, Executive will be entitled to (A) the benefits set forth in paragraph (a)(i) and (a)(ii) of this Section, and (B) accelerated vesting of 100% of any then unvested options, restricted stock or restricted stock units as may have been granted to Executive by Company.





(b) Release. The Company’s obligation to make the payments and to provide the benefits under paragraphs (a)(ii) and (a)(iii) of this Section and to provide any other benefits contemplated herein is contingent upon:


  (i) Executive’s execution of a release in a form reasonably acceptable to the Company (the “Release”), which Release must be signed and any applicable revocation period with respect thereto must have expired by the 30th day following Executive’s termination of employment. The Release will not waive any of Executive’s rights, or obligations of Company or its successor in interest, regarding: (1) any right to indemnification and/or contribution, advancement or payment of related expenses Executive may have pursuant to the Company’s Bylaws or Articles of Incorporation or under any written indemnification or other agreement between Company and Executive, and/or under applicable law; (2) any rights Executive may have to insurance coverage under any directors and officers liability insurance, other insurance policies of the Company, COBRA or any similar state law; (3) any claims for worker’s compensation, state disability or unemployment insurance benefits, or any other claims that cannot be released as a matter of applicable law; (4) rights to any vested benefits under any stock, compensation or other employee benefit plan of the Company; (5) any rights Executive may have as an existing shareholder of the Company; and (6) any claims arising after the effective date of the Release. Nothing in the Release or any other agreement between Executive and Company will prohibit or prevent Executive from providing truthful testimony or otherwise responding accurately and fully to any question, inquiry or request for information or documents when required by legal process, subpoena, notice, court order or law (including, without limitation, in any criminal, civil, or regulatory proceeding or investigation), or as necessary in any action for enforcement or claimed breach of this Agreement or any other legal dispute with the Company. If the Release has been signed and any applicable revocation period has expired prior to the 30th day following Executive’s termination of employment, then the severance payments above may be made on such earlier date; provided, however, that if the 30th day following Executive’s termination of employment occurs in the calendar year following the year of Executive’s termination date, then the payments shall not be made earlier than January 1 of such subsequent calendar year; and
  (ii) Executive’s tendering a written resignation as a director, if serving as a director of Company, as provided in Section 7.


(c) Section 280G of the Code.


  (i) Notwithstanding anything in this Agreement to the contrary, if any payment, distribution, or other benefit provided by Company to or for the benefit of Executive, whether paid or payable or distributed or distributable pursuant to the terms of this Agreement or otherwise (collectively, the “Payments”), (x) constitute a “parachute payment” within the meaning of Section 280G of the Code, and (y) but for this Section 5(c) would be subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Code or any similar or successor provision thereto (the “Excise Tax”), then the Payments shall be either: (A) delivered in full pursuant to the terms of this Agreement, or (B) delivered to such lesser extent as would result in no portion of the payment being subject to the Excise Tax, as determined in accordance with Section 5(c)(ii).





  (ii) The determination of whether Section 5(c)(i)(A) or Section 5(c)(i)(B) shall be given effect shall be made by Company on the basis of which of such clauses results in the receipt by Executive of the greater Net After-Tax Receipt (as defined herein) of the aggregate Payments. The term “Net After-Tax Receipt” shall mean the present value (as determined in accordance with Section 280G of the Code) of the payments net of all applicable federal, state and local income, employment, and other applicable taxes and the Excise Tax.
  (iii) If Section 5(c)(i)(B) is given effect, the reduction shall be accomplished in accordance with Section 409A of the Code and the following: first by reducing, on a pro rata basis, cash Payments that are exempt from Section 409A of the Code; second by reducing, on a pro rata basis, other cash Payments; and third by forfeiting any equity-based awards that vest and become payable, starting with the most recent equity-based awards that vest, to the extent necessary to accomplish such reduction.
  (iv) Unless Company and Executive otherwise agree in writing, any determination required under this Section 5(c) shall be made by Company’s independent accountants or compensation consultants (the “Third Party”), and all such determinations shall be conclusive, final and binding on the parties hereto. Company and Executive shall furnish to the Third Party such information and documents as the Third Party may reasonably request in order to make a determination under this Section 5(c). Company shall bear all fees and costs of the Third Party with respect to all determinations under or contemplated by this Section 5(c).


(d) Definitions. For purposes of this Section, the following definitions shall apply:


  (i) “Affiliated Group” means (A) a Person and one or more other Persons in control of, controlled by, or under common control with such Person; and (B) two or more Persons who, by written agreement among them, act in conceit to acquire Voting Securities entitling them to elect a majority of the directors of Company.


  (ii) “Cause” means a termination of Executive’s employment based upon a finding by a majority of the Board of Directors of the Company or its successor, acting in good faith and based on its reasonable belief at the time, that Executive (a) has refused to perform the explicitly stated or reasonably assigned, lawful, and material duties required by Executive’s position (other than by reason of a disability or analogous condition); (b) has committed or engaged in a material act of theft, embezzlement, dishonesty or fraud, a breach of confidentiality, an unauthorized disclosure or use of inside information, customer lists, trade secrets or other confidential information; (c) has breached a material fiduciary duty, or willfully and materially violated any other duty, law, rule, or regulation relating to the performance of Executive’s duties to the Company or material policy of the Company or its successor; (d) has been convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to, misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a felony; (e) has willfully and materially breached any of the provisions of any agreement with the Company or its successor which causes material injury to the Company; (f) has willfully engaged in unfair competition with, or otherwise acted intentionally in a manner materially injurious to the reputation, business or assets of, the Company or its successor; or (g) has improperly induced a vendor or customer to break or terminate any material contract with the Company or its successor or induced a principal for whom the Company or its successor acts as agent to terminate such agency relationship. “Cause” shall only exist if Company first provides Executive with written notice of any claimed ground for Cause and an opportunity to cure such ground, if curable, for thirty (30) days. For purposes of this Agreement, no act or failure to act on Executive’s part will be considered “willful” unless it is done, or omitted to be done, by Executive intentionally, not in good faith or without reasonable belief that the action or omission was in the best interest of the Company.





  (iii) “Change of Control” means (A) the acquisition of Voting Securities of Company by a Person or an Affiliated Group entitling the holder thereof to elect a majority of the directors of Company; provided, that an increase in the amount of Voting Securities held by a Person or Affiliated Group who on the date of this Agreement beneficially owned (as defined in Section 13(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the regulations thereunder) more than 10% of the Voting Securities shall not constitute a Change of Control; and provided, further, that an acquisition of Voting Securities by one or more Persons acting as an underwriter in connection with a sale or distribution of such Voting Securities shall not constitute a Change of Control under this clause (A); (B) the sale of all or substantially all of the assets of Company; or (C) a merger or consolidation of Company with or into another corporation or entity in which the shareholders of Company immediately before such merger or consolidation do not own, in the aggregate, Voting Securities of the surviving corporation or entity (or the ultimate parent of the surviving corporation or entity) entitling them, in the aggregate (and without regard to whether they constitute an Affiliated Group) to elect a majority of the directors or persons holding similar powers of the surviving corporation or entity (or the ultimate parent of the surviving corporation or entity).
  (iv) “Disability” means Executive’s inability to perform the essential functions of Executive’s job responsibilities for a period of 180 days in the aggregate in any 12 month period.


  (v) “Good Reason” means the occurrence of any of the following events or circumstances without Executive’s written consent: (i) a material diminution in Executive’s base compensation; (ii) a material diminution in Executive’s authority, duties or responsibility; (iii) a material change in the principal geographic location at which Executive performs services; (iv) any requirement that Executive engage in any illegal conduct; or (v) a material breach by Company of this Agreement or any other material written agreement between Executive and the Company. “Good Reason” shall only exist if Executive first provides Company with written notice of any claimed ground for Good Reason within thirty (30) days of the first occurrence of such ground and an opportunity to cure such ground, if curable, for thirty (30) days.
  (vi) “Person” means any natural person or any corporation, partnership, limited liability company, trust, unincorporated business association, or other entity.
  (vii) “Voting Securities” means shares of capital stock or other equity securities entitling the holder thereof to regularly vote for the election of directors (or for person performing a similar function if the issuer is not a corporation), but does not include the power to vote upon the happening of some condition or event which has not yet occurred.


6. Turnover of Property and Documents on Termination. Executive agrees that on or before termination of Executive’s employment, Executive will return to Company, all equipment and other property belonging to Company, and all originals and copies of confidential information (in any and all media and formats, and including any document or other item containing confidential information) in Executive’s possession or control, and all of the following (in any and all media and formats, and whether or not constituting or containing confidential information) in Executive’s possession or control: (a) lists and sources of customers; (b) proposals or drafts of proposals for any research grant, research or development project or program, marketing plan, licensing arrangement, or other arrangement with any third party; (c) reports, notations of the Executive, laboratory notes, specifications, and drawings pertaining to the research, development, products, patents, and technology of Company; (d) any and all intellectual property developed by Executive during the course of employment; and (e) the manual and memoranda related to the Policies. To the extent there is a conflict between this Section 6 and the Confidentiality and IP Agreement executed by the Executive, the Confidentiality and IP Agreement provisions control.





7. Resignation as a Director on Termination of Employment. If Executive’s employment by Company is terminated for any reason or for no reason, whether by way of resignation, Disability, or termination by Company with or without Cause, and if Executive is then a member of the Board of Directors, Executive shall within two business days after such termination of employment resign from the Board of Directors by delivering to Company a letter or other written communication addressed to the Board of Directors stating that Executive is resigning from the Board of Directors effective immediately. A business day shall be any day other than a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday on which federal offices are closed.


8. Arbitration. Except for injunctive proceedings against unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, any and all claims or controversies between Company and Executive, including but not limited to (a) those involving the construction or application of any of the terms, provisions, or conditions of this Agreement or the Policies; (b) all contract or tort claims of any kind; and (c) any claim based on any federal, state, or local law, statute, regulation, or ordinance, including claims for unlawful discrimination or harassment, shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the then current Employment Dispute Resolution Rules of the American Arbitration Association. Judgment on the award rendered by the arbitrator(s) may be entered by any court having jurisdiction over Company and Executive. The location of the arbitration shall be San Diego, California. Unless Company or Executive mutually agree otherwise, the arbitrator shall be a retired judge selected from a panel provided by the American Arbitration Association, or the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service (JAMS). Company, shall pay the arbitrator’s fees and costs. Executive shall pay for Executive’s own costs and attorneys’ fees, if any. If Company is a party to an arbitration proceeding it shall pay for its own costs and attorneys’ fees, if any. However, if any party prevails on a statutory claim which affords the prevailing party attorneys’ fees, the arbitrator may award reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to the prevailing party.




9. Severability. In the event that any of the provisions of this Agreement or the Policies shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable in whole or in part, those provisions to the extent enforceable and all other provisions shall nevertheless continue to be valid and enforceable as though the invalid or unenforceable parts had not been included in this Agreement or the Policies. In the event that any provision relating to a time period of restriction shall be declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to exceed the maximum time period such court deems reasonable and enforceable, then the time period of restriction deemed reasonable and enforceable by the court shall become and shall thereafter be the maximum time period.


10. Agreement Read and Understood. Executive acknowledges that Executive has carefully read the terms of this Agreement, that Executive has had an opportunity to consult with an attorney or other representative of Executive’s own choosing regarding this Agreement, that Executive understands the terms of this Agreement and that Executive is entering this Agreement of Executive’s own free will.


11. Complete Agreement, Modification. This Agreement is the complete agreement between Executive and Company on the subjects contained in this Agreement. This Agreement supersedes and replaces all previous correspondence, promises, representations, and agreements, if any, either written or oral with respect to Executive’s employment by Company and any matter covered by this Agreement, including, to the extent the matter is addressed in this Agreement, the offer letter dated June 2, 2021 accepted by Executive. No provision of this Agreement may be modified, amended, or waived except by a written document signed both by Executive and Company, and with respect to the Company, with the express authorization of the Board of Directors or the Compensation Committee.


12. Governing Law. This Agreement shall be construed and enforced according to the laws of the State of California.





13. Assignability. This Agreement, and the rights and obligations of Executive and Company under this Agreement, may not be assigned by Executive. Company may assign any of its rights and obligations under this Agreement to any successor or surviving corporation, limited liability company, or other entity resulting from a merger, consolidation, sale of assets, sale of stock, sale of membership interests, or other reorganization, upon condition that the assignee shall assume, either expressly or by operation of law, all of Company’s obligations under this Agreement.


14. Survival. This Section 14 and the covenants and agreements contained in Sections 3, 4 and 6 of this Agreement shall survive termination of this Agreement and Executive’s employment.


15. Notices. Any notices or other communication required or permitted to be given under this Agreement shall be in writing and shall be mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, or sent by next business day air courier service, or personally delivered to the party to whom it is to be given at the address of such party set forth on the signature page of this Agreement (or to such other address as the party shall have furnished in writing in accordance with the provisions of this Section 15).


[Signatures to the Employment Agreement Are Found on the Following Page]





IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have executed this Agreement on the day and year first above written.


  /s/ Kevin Leon Cook  
  Kevin L. Cook  
Address: 2173 Salk Avenue, Suite 200  
  Carlsbad, CA 92008  


By: /s/ Brian M. Culley  
  Brian Michael Culley  
  Chief Executive Officer  
  Lineage Cell Therapeutics, Inc  
  2173 Salk Avenue, Suite 200  
  Carlsbad, CA 92008  


[Signature Page to the Employment Agreement]