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Old 08-28-2018, 07:08 PM   #1
fjtorres
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Fired CEO sues B&N: Soap Opera launched

From Reuters via Digital Reader Blog:

https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/...it-against-bn/

Quote:

A former chief executive of Barnes & Noble Inc filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing the bookseller of breach of contract and defamation in connection with his sudden termination last month after a little over a year in the job.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Demos Parneros accused Barnes & Noble founder Leonard Riggio of engineering his "firing without cause" and damaging his reputation, in an effort to maintain control of the company.
B&N issued a very emotional response:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/ho...uit-Terminated

Typical of these catfights, insider info quickly filters out.
In this case that B&N received a buyout offer last June, they accepted it, and during the due diligence phase when the buyer had access to B&N's books, they dropped the offer completely.

(Apparently they headed for the hills instead of trying to renegotiate.)

Popcorn vendors standing by.

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Old 08-28-2018, 09:14 PM   #2
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NYT article has more info, if you have access.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/b...t-lawsuit.html

Interesting how it was a "book retailer" that tendered an offer last Spring that was refused.
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Old 08-28-2018, 09:30 PM   #3
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Interesting how it was a "book retailer" that tendered an offer last Spring that was refused.
So who could it be?

Waterstones? Fnac? Amazon?

Or should I discount the whole idea, since Parneros seems to be sole source?
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Old 08-29-2018, 12:40 AM   #4
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Were these buyout offers public knowledge? If not, could disclosing them be a breach in confidentiality? And could this be provide grounds for a counter suit by B&N against Parneros?

A lot of accusations. Not sure, though, how B&N not accepting a buyout offer should be grist for this particular lawsuit. Looks a little like a "scatter-gun" attack, seemingly intended to vindictively harm B&N rather than address Parneros' termination issues.
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Old 08-29-2018, 01:01 AM   #5
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Were these buyout offers public knowledge?
Those kinds of things are typically kept secret until the prospective buyer is done with due diligence and the offer goes out to the stockholders. Not always though. (This year's tug of war between Disney and Comcast over Fox was public well before Comcast tendered their formal offer.)

There have been a couple of public offers to buy B&N by the same investor but neither was credible. More likely they were attempts to draw in other bids so he could offload his stock.

A bid by a retailer? Nothing public though there was talk of Indigo possibly buying B&N last year. Instead, Indigo decided this year to roll their own.

As for Parneros looking to hurt B&N, well yeah; of course!

The way B&N handled it ended all possibility of him ever getting hired by anybody anywhere.
Typically CEO firings are disguised and sugar coated to prevent exactly what is happening. Parneros is either truly innocent of the charges and is looking for vindication or he is guilty or at least a big jerk and is looking for revenge. Regardless he has nothing left to lose.

Since these suits take months to years to be settled, the lawsuit might just outlive B&N.
And while the suit is active the well is good and poisoned; no investor or buyer is going to risk taking on the potential liability of a Parneros win.

This one is all or nothing for both sides.

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Old 08-29-2018, 01:36 AM   #6
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I have no idea who to believe here. Parneros seems to have had a good reputation before this -- so it makes me a little suspicious. Of course the key word here is "seems." You never really know. Am I wrong, or did lawsuits use to be more "professional?" Seems like both sides here are being juvenile with their attacks -- almost like they're trying to win the lawsuit on Twitter or something.

You mentioned Indigo "rolling their own." Are they moving into the U.S.? (I guess I can Google it.)
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Old 08-29-2018, 02:16 AM   #7
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I have no idea who to believe here. Parneros seems to have had a good reputation before this -- so it makes me a little suspicious. Of course the key word here is "seems." You never really know. Am I wrong, or did lawsuits use to be more "professional?" Seems like both sides here are being juvenile with their attacks -- almost like they're trying to win the lawsuit on Twitter or something.

You mentioned Indigo "rolling their own." Are they moving into the U.S.? (I guess I can Google it.)
Yes, Indigo is opening a store in New Jersey.
It was supposed to be open by now.

https://www.nj.com/entertainment/ind...ort_hills.html


And no, you are not wrong.
Both sides are being totally unprofessional in this mess.
They started at character assassination and are going on from there.

Parneros's position is more understandable in that B&N didn't just fire him; they made sure nobody would ever hire him again for anything. (Even Leo Apothecker was able to find a landing spot after HP fired him.). He has nothing left to lose (or win, for that matter). The insinuations they made at the time excluded pretty much everything just short of rape... particularly the bit about firing him on advice of their lawyers.
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Old 08-29-2018, 02:41 AM   #8
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I think they left Parneros in a situation where he had little choice but to sue them. I think it is very personal. B&N set out to ruin his reputation in an attack seldom seen in this type of case. I would describe the way B&N handled it as not only unusual but irrational. Although we don't know the facts and may never know them, I can't come up with a scenario where B&N's behaviour would be rational in the circumstances described. Perhaps this is a simple failure of imagination on my part.

Parneros of course has not exactly held back in his suit. His theory of the case seems to be that Riggio blamed him for the loss of the sale and acted deliberately and vindictively to "set him up". This is certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility given the way he was treated and its seeming irrationality. B&N acted to destroy his career and make him effectively unemployable in the future. He has now returned the favour by making the already remote prospect of a sale or substantial investment now virtually impossible, not to mention scaring off any potentially reasonable CEO who may have been prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt on the way he was sacked. This was all eminently foreseeable. A rational company would have foreseen it and acted accordingly. Yet more appalling decision-making from B&N. Surely they can't last much longer?

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Old 08-29-2018, 03:44 AM   #9
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A reported case of sexual harassment by the CEO. How could they not fire him?

There is now zero tolerance for this type of alleged behavior.
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:53 AM   #10
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Popcorn vendors standing by.


I am ready.

On a more serious note, couldn't he simply retire and live off his savings?
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:55 AM   #11
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A reported case of sexual harassment by the CEO. How could they not fire him?

There is now zero tolerance for this type of alleged behavior.
Unless it was fabricated.
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Old 08-29-2018, 03:58 AM   #12
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But why the very public statement emphasising no payout, the reference to lawyer's advice etc. It is not how these things are usually handled for obvious reasons. We don't know that much. Not even if an internal investigation was carried out. But we do know it hasn't gone anywhere near a courtroom until now. Irrespective of the merits of the matter, B&N deliberately damaged him and he has returned the favour. B&N are now learning why companies don't usually sack people in this type of manner. Even if they are ultimately found to be 100% justified, their investors will still have suffered.

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Old 08-29-2018, 05:42 AM   #13
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But why the very public statement emphasising no payout, the reference to lawyer's advice etc. It is not how these things are usually handled for obvious reasons. We don't know that much. Not even if an internal investigation was carried out. But we do know it hasn't gone anywhere near a courtroom until now. Irrespective of the merits of the matter, B&N deliberately damaged him and he has returned the favour. B&N are now learning why companies don't usually sack people in this type of manner. Even if they are ultimately found to be 100% justified, their investors will still have suffered.
B&N still has investors? Desperate people do foolish things.
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Old 08-29-2018, 05:59 AM   #14
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B&N still has investors? Desperate people do foolish things.
Thanks to the complaint they probably no longer have even wishful imaginary investors. I doubt it matters how the ruling goes, B&N should be finished.

For entertainment I suggest the 19 page complaint that was filed linked in first article.

Though looking through the list of notable cases from VLADECK, RASKIN & CLARK it doesn't appear Parneros is their typical client. Unless he is the victim that got fired over false sexual harrassment.
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Old 08-29-2018, 08:03 AM   #15
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A reported case of sexual harassment by the CEO. How could they not fire him?

There is now zero tolerance for this type of alleged behavior.
It's not the firing per se that led to this "spectacle" but the way it was carried out. Everything has a right way of being done and firing a CEO has a specific language that B&N itself used in firing the other CEOs; things about different visions, going in a different direction, exploring other options.
CEOs are hired to be fired.
Most often they are given the option to "resign" so they can quietly move on.
"Quietly" and "move on" being the key words.
Unless the guy plundered the company and is headed to jail you do not destroy his career with innuendo. That is not how the game is played. And it's not played that way precisely because it leads to this kind of lawsuit and back-and-forth scorched earth campaign.

This isn't the first time B&N top management (read:Riggio) acts unprofessionally in a common business situation. There was the silly fight with TimeWarner when the first Fire tablets launched with a handful of timed-exclusive digital graphic novels and the hysterical and stupid charges when Microsoft tried to get them to license their patents. And of course, there is the hypocrisy of boycotting AmazonPublishing books while they themselves own a publishing house.

I'm reminded of the classic SUNSET BOULEVARD, with Riggio in the Desmond role.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunset_Boulevard_(film)

He still doesn't get that the world has changed and he no longer can do anything he wishes with impunity. TimeWarner and Microsoft reacted professionally but this time he ran into somebody willing to be as unprofessional as him.

Pass the popcorn.

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