Sitrick sued by employees *

Crisis PR meister Mike Sitrick has been sued in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by a former employee (on behalf of them all) who says the boss at Sitrick and Company manipulated the ESOP to deprive current and former employees of millions of dollars. The Wrap and Nikki Finke have the news, Finke adding her observation that "for years, I've heard complaints about his ESOP from former and current employees." Anita Busch, the former Hollywood Reporter editor in chief who was the victim of those threats by Anthony Pellicano and others, gets in an A-1 quip in the comments: "Sitrick drips more oil than a 1964 Corvair." Says Sitrick's lawyer: "We don’t believe there is any basis to the lawsuit, if indeed one has been filed."

* Add lawyer: Sitrick and Company general counsel Joe Giunta emailed a complete statement. It's after the jump.

Attributed to John A. Kober of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Sitrick And Company's legal counsel on ESOP matters:

The first Mr. Sitrick learned of this alleged lawsuit, filed by one former employee, was from a report on a blog. Neither Mr. Sitrick nor the firm has been contacted, nor have they been served. The ESOP had its own independent trustee, who hired its own independent legal counsel and independent valuation firm. The ESOP’s trustee approved the termination at the price paid to participants. Mr. Sitrick had no role in the valuation that was set. According to a preliminary review of Sitrick And Company records, Mr. Wool was 20% vested when he left the firm in 2004. When the plan was dissolved in December 2008, Mr. Wool received 65% more than his account was worth when he left in 2004. We don’t believe there is any basis to the lawsuit, if indeed one has been filed.

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