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Toledo-based Dana Corporation replaced general counsel Michael DeBacker on April 10, six days after Corporate Counsel magazine reported that he was not properly licensed to practice law in Ohio, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 12. DeBacker, general counsel for the Fortune 500 company since 2000 and an employee since 1979, continues working at the company in a nonlegal capacity, according to Dana’s 8-K filing. DeBacker didn’t respond to a request for comment. But Chuck Hartlage, director of corporate communications for the car parts manufacturer, released a statement, saying, “The company recently became aware that Mr. DeBacker was not licensed in the state of Ohio as an in-house counsel and determined that it was in the best interests of the company to make this change.” The statement said DeBacker would continue with Dana so the company can “benefit from his extensive experience in our business and industry.” Hartlage said DeBacker was replaced by his deputy general counsel, Marc S. Levin, who becomes acting general counsel and acting secretary. Hartlage declined further comment. In an exclusive story on April 4, Corporate Counsel reported it surveyed the Fortune 250 and found eight GCs who are not properly licensed in the state in which they work. Besides DeBacker, the group includes Vernon Baker II of ArvinMeritor, Inc.; Robert Sloan of Entergy Corporation; Siri Marshall of General Mills, Inc.; Arthur Hipwell of Humana Inc.; Terrance Carlson of Medtronic, Inc.; Todd DuChene of Solectron Corporation; and John Donofrio of Visteon Corporation. Of the eight, Hipwell has no license at all, while the rest, including DeBacker, don’t have the special license required by their states for in-house lawyers who haven’t taken the local bar exam. All but DuChene said that they were in the process of obtaining proper licensing. A story on April 17 in the Toledo Blade said DeBacker’s in-house license was revoked by the Ohio Supreme Court in 1993 when he was assistant general counsel, after he failed to meet its continuing education requirements. The story said DeBacker paid a $240 fine in 1993, but there was no record that he applied for reinstatement. It was his second violation, after being fined for the same thing in 1991, according to the Blade. Since early last year Dana has been reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. On April 5, 2007 Dana filed an amended annual incentive plan with the SEC that designated four “critical leaders” of the corporation, including DeBacker, as deserving special cash payments for their work on the restructuring. The filing said DeBacker is eligible to earn a cash payment up to 120 percent of the $1.1 million in salary and benefits he earned last year, if he meets company goals. The April 5 filing was signed by DeBacker as general counsel and secretary. It is not clear what impact, if any, his job change has on that compensation package.

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