On Onyx Pharma and standardized tests…

August 9, 2012

Several months ago, there was a big dust-up here in New York over a question on a standardized English test for eighth graders about a talking pineapple. Pretty much every major media outlet (and many minor ones) covered the controversy over the question, which had been adapted from a novel by Daniel Pinkwater. For more details, here’s the WSJ’s take on the story; and here’s how the New Yorker covered things.

We thought about that talking pineapple as we tried to make sense of some language in this “amended and restated executive change in control severance agreement” attached to the 10-Q filed by Onyx Pharmaceuticals (ONXX) earlier this week. The agreement was with HR exec Kaye Foster-Cheek. Here’s the part that tripped us up:

The Company shall make a cash severance payment in a lump sum to Executive in an amount equal to the product of (i) the sum of (a) Executive’s Base Salary and (b) Executive’s Target Bonus, and (ii) the quotient obtained by dividing twenty-six (26) by twelve (12), less applicable tax withholdings. This lump sum will be paid on the sixtieth (60th) day following the date of the Covered Termination, but in no event later than as provided in Section 3.4 below.

Given that most lawyers are notoriously bad at math, we’d like to meet the attorney who wrote this. Even better, we’d like to see him or her do the math that gets us to the right answer. In any event, we hope this doesn’t inspire the folks at New York’s DOE or whatever testing company came up with the pineapple question to add a question like this to their test.

Image source: Students taking a test via Shutterstock

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