LOS ANGELES: As the jury continues to deliberate in the United States' criminal lawsuit against former Fleishman-Hillard Los Angeles GM Douglas Dowie, a federal judge on Monday tentatively dismissed the one-time office head's simultaneously filed wrongful-dismissal suit.
Rejecting Dowie's allegations that Fleishman executives made him "a scapegoat," US District Judge Margaret M. Morrow presented a preliminary ruling noting that the former GM's termination was not based on Dowie's knowledge of alleged employee bonuses linked to illegal political campaign donations.
In a 52-page document, Morrow wrote that evidence established the St. Louis-based firm "would have terminated Dowie's employment whether or not it was concerned about his disclosure of an illegal scheme to reimburse campaign contributions."
Arguing that Dowie showed no sign of being "a whistleblower" during his tenure at the agency, Fleishman attorney Anthony De Corso cited nine reasons for the GM's termination. Grounds included Dowie's purported failure to enforce the agency's billing policies and inability to account for more than half a million dollars in billings. De Corso also noted that, although interviewed by investigators on five separate occasions, Dowie failed to mention any potentially illegal activities until after his dismissal.
While Morrow's initial ruling comes as a setback, it does not signal the end of Dowie's civil suit against his former employers. The judge "listened carefully to the points being made" at Monday's hearing, said Dowie's attorney Michael J. Faber. Her final decision, he reminded, is subject to that oral argument, among other factors. "We're not despairing over [the preliminary ruling]," Faber said. "We'll await the court's ruling."
Neither De Corso nor Fleishman representatives could immediately be reached for comment.