No one likes being the scapegoat in a messy situation. Unfortunately, when large companies lose a lot of money, or don’t make as much as they had anticipated, their first recourse is often to find someone to blame. In the case of Walgreens’s recent $1 billion alleged forecasting error, the company’s CFO at the time, Wade Miquelon, became the alleged scapegoat.
According to reports, Miquelon made an alleged forecasting error that required Walgreens to cut its forecast of pharmacy unit earnings for the year 2016 from $8.5 billion down to $7.4 billion. After the alleged forecasting error, Miquelon and another executive at Walgreens lost their jobs, but Miquelon tells a different alleged story which Walgreens denies.
According to the former CFO, he was not fired from his position. In fact, he claims he was offered a promotion and told that, if he accepted it, he would be in line to succeed Gregory Wasson as Walgreens’s CEO. Instead of taking that opportunity, Miquelon says he left his position “to pursue opportunities outside of Walgreens”. Thanks to accusations made by Wasson and other Walgreens executives though, Miquelon’s opportunities outside of Walgreens have allegedly been severely restricted.
According to the lawsuit, Wasson and Stefano Pessina, Walgreens’s largest shareholder, allegedly defamed Miquelon in meetings with large shareholders. The lawsuit also alleges that the two executives made “false and disparaging” comments about Miquelon in a report by the Wall Street Journal. The result was a series of articles reporting that Miquelon “bungled” the company’s finances.
Miquelon alleges that he tried urging Wasson and Pessina to tell the truth about why he left his position at the company, but they allegedly refused to do so. Miquelon responded by filing a lawsuit against them to try to recover his good name.
When ruling in cases of alleged defamation, the courts always have to walk a fine line between protecting the rights of the individual and protecting the right to freedom of speech. In situations in which the victim of the alleged defamation is a public figure, such as a celebrity or politician, it is usually more difficult for the plaintiff to make a strong enough case for defamation, given that discussion of public figures is a key aspect of freedom of speech and is usually in the best interest of the public. On the other hand, if a plaintiff can prove that the defamatory statements were false, and that he suffered material harm as a result of the defamation, the court will be more likely to rule in his favor.
Whether Miquelon can prove the disparaging statements were false has yet to be seen, but he already has a strong case for the harm he has allegedly suffered as a direct result of the allegedly false accusations made against him. Although he left his position at Walgreens with alleged CFO and COO opportunities, those alleged opportunities have now been taken from him. If Wasson and Pessina really did defame Miquelon in front of large shareholders, those shareholders likely will no longer want to work with him. When it comes to the reports in the Wall Street Journal, no one wants to hire an executive who they believe, whether correctly or incorrectly, was responsible for a $1 billion mistake.
Our Chicago defamation and slander attorneys concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases, including cases representing a consumer sued by a large luxury used car dealer in federal court for hundreds of negative internet reviews and videos which resulted in substantial media coverage of the suit; one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired; and a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law, where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois. One of our partners also participated in representing a high profile athlete against a well-known radio shock jock.
Our Chicago libel lawyers defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Schaumburg, and Palatine, who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.
Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorneys Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over a quarter of a century of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights, and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, defamation, libel, and covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud or defamatory attacks on their business and reputations.
Lubin Austermuehle’s Naperville and Hinsdale defamation and slander lawyers have more than two and half decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action, and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Elmhurst and Wheaton, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business online at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at 630-333-0333 or online by filling out our contact us form.