Nacchio Sues Qwest To Pay for Legal Defense
By Peg Brickley
The Wall Street Journal
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Joseph P. Nacchio, former chairman and chief
executive of Qwest Communications International Inc., sued the
company he once led to force it to keep paying his legal fees.
Mr. Nacchio has said he will appeal his April 19 conviction, in
federal court in Denver, on 19 of 42 counts of insider trading.
The ex-CEO's legal bills are mounting, as he is still on the
roster of defendants in "several pending lawsuits and other
claims" arising from his stint at the helm of Qwest, according
to court papers filed late Thursday.
"Mr. Nacchio faces significant legal exposure by reason of the
fact that he was a director and officer of the company," said a
letter from Mr. Nacchio's corporate attorney Kevin Abrams of
Abrams & Laster in Wilmington, Del.
The letter was sent to Chancellor William B. Chandler, lead
judge of Delaware's corporate law tribunal, a court that has
seen many such battles regarding legal fees for former
executives in trouble.
Former Hollinger International Inc. chief Conrad Black, for
example, battled successfully in Delaware to force the company
he was accused of looting to pay his lawyers. Mr. Black is on
trial in Chicago, charged with racketeering, tax evasion,
obstruction of justice and fraud.
Qwest has been picking up the tab for Mr. Nacchio's lawyers in
keeping with standard corporate executive agreements
incorporated in his severance package when he resigned in 2002.
Mr. Nacchio says Qwest recently began balking at paying his
legal bills, in violation of those agreements.
Mr. Nacchio's attorney Herbert Stern of Stern & Kilcullen LLC
said in a court filing that Qwest general counsel Richard Baer
didn't return a call he made Thursday afternoon, which Mr. Stern
characterized as unusual.
Mr. Stern called Mr. Baer because of a report in the Denver
Post. In the newspaper's account, Qwest Chief Executive Dick
Notebaert was quizzed about the possibility that the company
would seek to recoup money it had spent defending Mr. Nacchio.
"It's extremely complex," Mr. Notebaert is quoted as saying.
Write to Peg Brickley at