Employment Agreement between CNS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Christopher Downs dated September 14, 2019

Contract Categories: Human Resources - Employment Agreements

Exhibit 10.10




This EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT (the “Agreement”) is entered into as of September 14, 2019, by and between CNS Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Nevada corporation (the “Company”) having its principal place of business at 2100 West Loop South, Suite 900, Houston, TX 77027, and Christopher S. Downs (“Executive”, and the Company and the Executive collectively referred to herein as the “Parties”) having his office at 478 Cynthia Way, North Salt Lake, Utah 84054, or such other location of his choosing.




WHEREAS, the Company desires to hire Executive and to employ him as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) commencing on the closing date of the Company’s initial public offering of common stock on the NASDAQ Stock Market (the “Effective Date”), and the Parties desire to enter into this Agreement embodying the terms of such employment; and


NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the premises and the mutual covenants and promises of the Parties contained herein, the Parties, intending to be legally bound, hereby agree as follows:


1.                  Title and Job Duties.


(a)                Subject to the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement, commencing on the Effective Date, the Company agrees to employ Executive as CFO. Executive shall report directly to the Board of Directors of the Company (the “Board”).


(b)               Executive accepts such employment and agrees, during the term of his employment, to devote his full business and professional time and energy to the Company, and agrees faithfully to perform his duties and responsibilities in an efficient, trustworthy and business-like manner. Executive also agrees that the Board shall determine from time to time such other duties as may be assigned to him. Executive agrees to carry out and abide by such directions of the Board.


(c)                Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, Executive shall not, without the written approval of the Company, render services of a business or commercial nature on his own behalf or on behalf of any other person, firm, or corporation, whether for compensation or otherwise, during his employment hereunder. The foregoing limitation shall not apply to Executive’s involvement in associations, charities and service on another entity’s board of directors, provided such involvement does not interfere with Executives responsibilities (and as it pertains to any service on another entity’s board of directors, provided such action is pre-approved by the Company).


2.                  Salary and Additional Compensation.


(a)                Base Salary. During the Term, the Company shall pay to Executive an annual base salary (“Base Salary”) of $300,000. The Board shall review the Executive’s Base Salary no less than annually and may increase (but not decrease) such Base Salary during the term of this Agreement. In addition, on the Effective Date, Executive shall receive a one-time relocation bonus of $15,000.


(b)               Annual Bonus. For each compensation year during the Term and commencing with the 2019 compensation year (which shall be prorated), Executive will be entitled to receive an annual cash bonus (the “Annual Bonus”), payable with respect to each compensation year completed during the Term, within ninety (90) days of the completion of such compensation year. The final determination on the amount, if any, of the Annual Bonus will be made by, and in the sole discretion of the Compensation Committee (or the Board, if such committee has been dissolved), based on goals and objectives approved by the Compensation Committee of the Board (or the Board, if such committee has been dissolved). The target Annual Bonus for the 2019 compensation year will be 35% of Base Salary. The term “compensation year” shall mean the Company’s fiscal year.






(c)                Option Grant. On the Effective Date, Executive will be entitled to receive an option grant (the “Option Grant”), to purchase 300,000 shares of Company common stock at an exercise price per share equal to the public offering price per share of the Company’s initial public offering. The Option Grant shall have a term of ten years and shall vest in four (4) equal installments on each of the succeeding four anniversary dates of the date of grant, provided Executive remains continuously employed by Company on and does not resign prior to each such vesting date. The Option Grant shall be made pursuant to the CNS Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2017 Stock Plan, and shall in all respects be subject to the terms and conditions of such plan.


3.                  Expenses. In accordance with Company policy, the Company shall reimburse Executive for all reasonable association fees, professional related expenses (certifications, licenses and continuing professional education) and business expenses properly and necessarily incurred and paid by Executive in the performance of his duties under this Agreement, upon his presentment of detailed receipts in the form required by the Company’s policy. Notwithstanding the foregoing, all expenses must be promptly submitted for reimbursement by the Executive. In no event shall any reimbursement be paid by the Company after the end of the year following the year in which the expense is incurred by the Executive.


4.                  Benefits.


(a)                Vacation. The Executive shall be entitled to reasonable vacation time and to utilize such vacation as the Executive shall determine; provided however, that the Executive shall evidence reasonable judgment with regard to appropriate vacation scheduling.


(b)               Health Insurance and Other Plans. Executive shall be eligible to participate in the Company’s medical, dental and other employee benefit programs, if any, that are provided by the Company for its employees at Executive’s level in accordance with the provisions of any such plans, as the same may be in effect from time to time.


5.                  Term. The term of employment under this Agreement (the “Term”) shall be for a three-year period commencing on the Effective Date.


6.                  Termination.


(a)                Termination at the Company’s Election.


(i)                 For Cause. At the election of the Company, Executive’s employment may be terminated at any time for Cause (as defined below) upon written notice to Executive given pursuant to Section 12 of this Agreement. For purposes of this Agreement, “Cause” for termination shall mean that Executive: (A) pleads “guilty” or “no contest” to, or is convicted of an act which is defined as a felony under federal or state law, or is indicted or formally charged with acts involving criminal fraud or embezzlement; (B) in carrying out his duties, engages in conduct that constitutes gross negligence or willful misconduct; (C) engages in substantiated fraud, misappropriation or embezzlement against the Company; (D) engages in any inappropriate or improper conduct that causes material harm to the reputation of the Company; or (E) materially breaches any term of this Agreement. With respect to subsection (E) of this section, to the extent such material breach may be cured, the Company shall provide Executive with written notice of the material breach and Executive shall have twenty (20) days to cure such breach.


(ii)               Upon Disability, Death or Without Cause. At the election of the Company, Executive’s employment may be terminated: (A) should Executive have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity and Executive is unable to perform the essential functions of his job with or without reasonable accommodation (“Disability”); (B) upon Executive’s death; or (C) with ninety (90) days prior written notice, at any time Without Cause for any or no reason.







(b)               Termination at Executive’s Election; Good Reason Termination. Notwithstanding anything contained elsewhere in this Agreement to the contrary, Executive may terminate his employment hereunder at any time and for any reason, upon thirty (30) days’ prior written notice given pursuant to Section 12 of this Agreement (“Voluntary Resignation”), provided that upon notice of resignation, the Company may terminate Executive’s employment immediately and pay Executive thirty (30) days’ Base Salary in lieu of notice. Furthermore, the Executive may terminate this Agreement for “Good Reason,” which shall be deemed to exist: (i) if the Company’s Board of Directors or that of any successor entity of Company, fails to appoint or reappoint the Executive or removes the Executive as the CFO of the Company; or (ii) a material breach by the Company of this Agreement. Good Reason shall not exist hereunder unless the Executive provides notice in writing to the Company of the existence of a condition described above within a period not to exceed ninety (90) days of the initial existence of the condition, and with respect to subsection (ii) of this section, to the extent such material breach may be cured, the Company does not remedy the condition within thirty (30) days of receipt of such notice.


(c)                Termination in General. If Executive’s employment with the Company terminates for any reason, the Company will pay or provide to Executive: (i) any unpaid Salary through the date of employment termination, (ii) reimbursement for any unreimbursed business expenses incurred through the termination date, to the extent reimbursable in accordance with Section 3, and (iii) all other payments or benefits (if any) to which Executive is entitled under the terms of any benefit plan or arrangement.


7.                  Severance.


(a)                Subject to Section 7(b) below, if Executive’s employment is terminated prior to the end of the Term, either by the Company without Cause or by Executive for Good Reason, Executive shall be entitled to receive a severance payment equal to six (6) months of Executive’s Base Salary. Such severance payment shall be made in a single lump sum sixty (60) days following such termination, provided the Executive has executed and delivered to the Company, and has not revoked a general release of the Company, its parents, subsidiaries and affiliates and each of its officers, directors, employees, agents, successors and assigns, and such other persons and/or entities as the Company may determine, in a form reasonably acceptable to the Company. Such general release shall be delivered on or about the date of termination and must be executed within fifty-five (55) days of termination.


(b)               Notwithstanding the foregoing, (i) any payment(s) of “nonqualified deferred compensation” (within the meaning of Section 409A of the Code and the regulations and official guidance issued thereunder (“Section 409A”)) that is/are required to be made to Executive hereunder as a “specified employee” (as defined under Section 409A) as a result of such employee’s “separation from service” (within the meaning of Section 409A) shall be delayed for the first six (6) months following such separation from service (or, if earlier, the date of death of the specified employee) and shall instead be paid upon expiration of such six (6) month delay period; and (ii) for purposes of any such payment that is subject to Section 409A, if the Executive’s termination of employment triggers the payment of “nonqualified deferred compensation” hereunder, then the Executive will not be deemed to have terminated employment until the Executive incurs a “separation from service” within the meaning of Section 409A.


8.                  Confidentiality Agreement.


(a)                Executive understands that during the Term he may have access to unpublished and otherwise confidential information both of a technical and non-technical nature, relating to the business of the Company and any of its parents, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates (collectively, “Affiliated Entities”), or clients, including without limitation any of their actual or anticipated business, research or development, any of their technology or the implementation or exploitation thereof, including without limitation information Executive and others have collected, obtained or created, information pertaining to patent formulations, vendors, prices, costs, materials, processes, codes, material results, technology, system designs, system specifications, materials of construction, trade secrets and equipment designs, including information disclosed to the Company by others under agreements to hold such information confidential (collectively, the “Confidential Information”). Executive agrees to observe all Company policies and procedures concerning such Confidential Information. Executive further agrees not to disclose or use, either during his employment or at any time thereafter, any Confidential Information for any purpose, including without limitation any competitive purpose, unless authorized to do so by the Company in writing, except that he may disclose and use such information when necessary in the performance of his duties for the Company. Executive’s obligations under this Agreement will continue with respect to Confidential Information, whether or not his employment is terminated, until such information becomes generally available from public sources through no action of Executive. Notwithstanding the foregoing, however, Executive shall be permitted to disclose Confidential Information as may be required by a subpoena or other governmental order, provided that he first notifies promptly the Company of such subpoena, order or other requirement and allows the Company the opportunity to obtain a protective order or other appropriate remedy.







(b)               During Executive’s employment, upon the Company’s request, or upon the termination of his employment for any reason, Executive will promptly deliver to the Company all documents, records, files, notebooks, manuals, letters, notes, reports, customer and supplier lists, cost and profit data, e-mail, apparatus, computers, cell phones, tablets, hardware, software, drawings, and any other material of the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities or clients, including all materials pertaining to Confidential Information developed by Executive or others, and all copies of such materials, whether of a technical, business or fiscal nature, whether on the hard drive of a laptop or desktop computer, in hard copy, disk or any other format, which are in Executive’s possession, custody or control.


(c)                Executive will promptly disclose to the Company any idea, invention, discovery or improvement, whether patentable or not (“Creations”), conceived or made by him alone or with others at any time during his employment. Executive agrees that the Company owns all such Creations, conceived or made by Executive alone or with others at any time during his employment, and Executive hereby assigns and agrees to assign to the Company all rights he has or may acquire therein and agrees to execute any and all applications, assignments and other instruments relating thereto which the Company deems necessary or desirable. These obligations shall continue beyond the termination of his employment with respect to Creations and derivatives of such Creations conceived or made during his employment with the Company. Executive understands that the obligation to assign Creations to the Company shall not apply to any Creation which is developed entirely on his own time without using any of the Company’s equipment, supplies, facilities, and/or Confidential Information unless such Creation (a) relates in any way to the business or to the current or anticipated research or development of the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities; or (b) results in any way from his work at the Company.


(d)               Executive will not assert any rights to any invention, discovery, idea or improvement relating to the business of the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities or to his duties hereunder as having been made or acquired by Executive prior to his work for the Company, except for the matters, if any, described in Appendix A to this Agreement.


(e)                During the Term, if Executive incorporates into a product or process of the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities anything listed or described in Appendix A, the Company is hereby granted and shall have a non-exclusive, royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide license (with the right to grant and authorize sublicenses) to make, have made, modify, use, sell, offer to sell, import, reproduce, distribute, publish, prepare derivative works of, display, perform publicly and by means of digital audio transmission and otherwise exploit as part of or in connection with any product, process or machine.


(f)                Executive agrees to cooperate fully with the Company, both during and after his employment with the Company, with respect to the procurement, maintenance and enforcement of copyrights, patents, trademarks and other intellectual property rights (both in the United States and foreign countries) relating to such Creations. Executive shall sign all papers, including, without limitation, copyright applications, patent applications, declarations, oaths, formal assignments, assignments of priority rights and powers of attorney, which the Company may deem necessary or desirable in order to protect its rights and interests in any Creations. Executive further agrees that if the Company is unable, after reasonable effort, to secure Executive’s signature on any such papers, any officer of the Company shall be entitled to execute such papers as his agent and attorney-in-fact and Executive hereby irrevocably designates and appoints each officer of the Company as his agent and attorney-in-fact to execute any such papers on his behalf and to take any and all actions as the Company may deem necessary or desirable in order to protect its rights and interests in any Creations, under the conditions described in this paragraph.







9.                  Non-solicitation; non-competition. (a) Executive agrees that, during the Term and until six (6) months after the termination of his employment, Executive will not, directly or indirectly, including on behalf of any person, firm or other entity, employ or actively solicit for employment any employee of the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities, or anyone who was an employee of the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities within the one-year period prior to the termination of Executive’s employment, or induce any such employee to terminate his or her employment with the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities.


(b)       Executive further agrees that, during the Term and until six (6) months after the termination of his employment, Executive will not, directly or indirectly, including on behalf of any person, firm or other entity, without the express written consent of an authorized representative of the Company, (i) perform services within the Territory (as defined below) for any Competing Business (as defined below), whether as an employee, consultant, agent, contractor or in any other capacity, (ii) hold office as an officer or director or like position in any Competing Business (unless Executive is already serving as a director of such company at the time of termination of his employment), or (iii) request any present or future customers or suppliers of the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities to curtail or cancel their business with the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities. These obligations will continue for the specified period regardless of whether the termination of Executive’s employment was voluntary or involuntary or with or without Cause or for any other reason.


(c)       “Competing Business” means any corporation, partnership or other entity or person (other than the Company) which is engaged (a) in the development, manufacture, marketing, distribution or sale of, or research directed to the development, manufacture, marketing, distribution or sale of competing anti-cancer drug candidates or products or (b) in any other business activity carried on or planned to be carried on (as evidenced by existing written documentation) by the Company or any of its Affiliated Entities during the Term.


(d)       “Territory” shall mean within any state, country or foreign jurisdiction in which the Company or any subsidiary of the Company is then providing services or products or marketing its services or products (or engaged in active discussions to provide such services).


(e)        Executive agrees that in the event a court determines the length of time or the geographic area or activities prohibited under this Section 9 are too restrictive to be enforceable, the court shall reduce the scope of the restriction to the extent necessary to make the restriction enforceable. In furtherance and not in limitation of the foregoing, the Company and the Executive each intend that the covenants contained in this Section 9 shall be deemed to be a series of separate covenants, one for each and every state, territory or jurisdiction of the United States and any foreign country set forth therein.  If, in any judicial proceeding, a court shall refuse to enforce any of such separate covenants, then such unenforceable covenants shall be deemed eliminated from the provisions hereof for the purpose of such proceedings to the extent necessary to permit the remaining separate covenants to be enforced in such proceedings.


10.              Representation and Warranty. The Executive hereby acknowledges and represents that he has had the opportunity to consult with legal counsel regarding his rights and obligations under this Agreement and that he fully understands the terms and conditions contained herein. Executive represents and warrants that Executive has provided the Company a true and correct copy of any agreements that purport: (a) to limit Executive’s right to be employed by the Company; (b) to prohibit Executive from engaging in any activities on behalf of the Company; or (c) to restrict Executive’s right to use or disclose any information while employed by the Company. Executive further represents and warrants that Executive will not use on the Company’s behalf any information, materials, data or documents belonging to a third party that are not generally available to the public, unless Executive has obtained written authorization to do so from the third party and provided such authorization to the Company. In the course of Executive’s employment with the Company, Executive is not to breach any obligation of confidentiality that Executive has with third parties, and Executive agrees to fulfill all such obligations during Executive’s employment with the Company. Executive further agrees not to disclose to the Company or use while working for the Company any trade secrets belonging to a third party.


11.              Injunctive Relief. Without limiting the remedies available to the Company, Executive acknowledges that a breach of any of the covenants contained in Sections 8 and 9 above may result in material irreparable injury to the Company for which there is no adequate remedy at law, that it will not be possible to measure precisely damages for such injuries and that, in the event of such a breach or threat thereof, the Company shall be entitled, without the requirement to post bond or other security, to seek a temporary restraining order and/or injunction restraining Executive from engaging in activities prohibited by this Agreement or such other relief as may be required to specifically enforce any of the covenants in Sections 8 and 9 of this Agreement.







12.              Notice. Any notice or other communication required or permitted to be given to the Parties shall be deemed to have been given if either personally delivered, or if sent for next-day delivery by nationally recognized overnight courier, and addressed as follows:


If to Executive, to:


Christopher S. Downs

478 Cynthia Way

North Salt Lake, Utah 84054



If to the Company, to:


CNS Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

2100 West Loop South, Suite 900

Houston, TX 77027

Attention: CEO


13.              Severability. If any provision of this Agreement is declared void or unenforceable by a court of competent jurisdiction, all other provisions shall nonetheless remain in full force and effect.


14.              Withholding. The Company may withhold from any payment that it is required to make under this Agreement amounts sufficient to satisfy applicable withholding requirements under any federal, state or local law.


15.              Indemnification. The Company agrees that Executive will be covered by any “directors and officers” insurance policies then in effect with respect to Executive’s acts as an officer and/or director of the Company.


16.              Governing Law. This Agreement shall be governed by, and construed and enforced in accordance with, the laws of the State of Nevada, without regard to the conflict of laws provisions thereof. Any action, suit or other legal proceeding that is commenced to resolve any matter arising under or relating to any provision of this Agreement shall be submitted to the exclusive jurisdiction of any state or federal court in Las Vegas, Nevada.


17.              Waiver. The waiver by either Party of a breach of any provision of this Agreement shall not be or be construed as a waiver of any subsequent breach. The failure of a Party to insist upon strict adherence to any provision of this Agreement on one or more occasions shall not be considered a waiver or deprive that Party of the right thereafter to insist upon strict adherence to that provision or any other provision of this Agreement. Any such waiver must be in writing, signed by the Party against whom such waiver is to be enforced.


18.              Assignment. This Agreement is a personal contract and Executive may not sell, transfer, assign, pledge or hypothecate his rights, interests and obligations hereunder. Except as otherwise herein expressly provided, this Agreement shall be binding upon and shall inure to the benefit of Executive and his personal representatives and shall inure to the benefit of and be binding upon the Company and its successors and assigns, including without limitation, any corporation or other entity into which the Company is merged or which acquires all or substantially all of the assets of the Company.


19.              Entire Agreement. This Agreement (together with Appendix A hereto) embodies all of the representations, warranties, covenants, understandings and agreements between the Parties relating to Executive’s employment with the Company. No other representations, warranties, covenants, understandings, or agreements exist between the Parties relating to Executive’s employment. This Agreement shall supersede all prior agreements, written or oral, relating to Executive’s employment. This Agreement may not be amended or modified except by a writing signed by the Parties.


[Signature page follows]





IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have caused this Agreement to be duly executed and delivered on the date first written above.


  CNS Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

/s/ John Climaco


Name: John Climaco

Title: CEO



Agreed to and Accepted:

Christopher S. Downs  





/s/ Christopher S. Downs

Date: 9/14/2019  









Appendix A