In a suit filed in Minnesota district court on June 3, three former Starkey Hearing Technologies’ employees are suing the company and several current and former executives—including owner Bill Austin, President Brandon Sawalich, and Larry Miller, among others—for “failing to uphold their fiduciary duties tied to an employee stock ownership program,” according to an article on the Forbes website.
The suit alleges that the company’s ESOP, or employee stock ownership, lost nearly $37 million with a net loss of almost $4 million, according to the Forbes article. The employees allege in the suit that the ESOP received lower contributions as a result of the fraud charges that former company president Jerry Ruzicka and others were convicted of in 2018.
According to Forbes, Starkey general counsel Thomas Ting “provided a statement explaining that Horizon Bank, an independent trustee of the ESOP, ‘fully investigated the impact of the actions of certain prior employees and their associate,’ adding that the bank reached a settlement with Starkey on behalf of the ESOP and its participants last month.”
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