Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Whistleblowers Have A Good Week - Part I


A hard fought and well documented whistleblower lawsuit ended the jury phase Friday night with a $4 million dollar verdict for Thomas Dunn, the former CFO of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Dunn maintained he was terminated from his $650,000 per year job was for challenging the business practices of the company as it contemplated going public. In an unusually well covered trial that began on March 15, 2003. Christopher Carey of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had his first story before the trial started, and the story of closing arguments and the jury's seven hour deliberations before its 9-3 verdict late Friday evening.

It seems fairly clear that this is one of those cases where the defense feels strongly that it has a legal defense to the claim as well as a factual one. Now that becomes a $4 million dollar evaluation. And a reminder for all, as my civil procedure professor, Albert P. 'Pappy' Jonessaid to a class of budding trial lawyers, "remember, there is no cash register at the back of the courtroom."

For those interested in following the story on an almost daily basis here are the links to Carey's reports on the trial:
March 18 Former Enterprise head accountant says he was stunned by his dismissal
March 19 $5 billion IPO was Enterprise goal, ousted executive says
March 20 Dunn didn't report alleged Enterprise misdeeds
March 21Dunn says he clashed with peers, superiors at auto-rental company
March 24 Accountant contradicts some testimony in wrongful-firing case
March 25 Former boss says Dunn's failings were undocumented
March 26 Dunn's ex bosses say investigations into him didn't involve concerns about accounting
March 27 Professor says accounting at Enterprise was unusual, even under Thomas Dunn
March 28 Enterprise was preparing for IPO, trial shows
March 31 Former employees criticize Dunn's management style
March 31 Judge refuses to dismiss Enterprise suit
April 1 Workers say they sought transfers because of Dunn
April 3 Audit officer says he never verified criticisms of Dunn
April 4 Judge throws out key part of Dunn's lawsuit over firing
April 7 Tom Berutti testifies that complaints he reported were unsubstantiated
April 8 Dunn's boss says he warned him about alienating others
April 10 Enterprise chief says other executives were having problems with Dunn
April 10 Enterprise chief says Dunn never raised illegality
April 11 Enterprise case goes to the jury
The petition initiating the lawsuit was filed in May, 2001.

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