The former chief financial officer of Sunrise Senior Living, McLean, Va., has filed suit against the company for breach of contract and defamation after his employment was terminated for cause in early May. Bradley Rush, 47, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Va., alleging that Sunrise has made him the fall guy for his discovery and disclosure of Sunrises improper, and in come cases fraudulent, accounting practices, according to the 30-page complaint. Rush is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as awards to cover his costs and attorneys fees.
In April, Rush was suspended without pay for failing to follow company directives during an ongoing investigation; Sunrise later terminated his employment for cause, effective May 2. At the time Rush was suspended, a company spokeswoman said executives had been told to retain all documents, both personal and professional, during a probe regarding insider sales of Sunrise stock, the companys historical practices related to stock-option grants, and certain transactions in its restatement of financials for 1999 to 2005. Since then, Sunrise has said it is considering strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company. This week Sunrise said it received an extension from the New York Stock Exchange that allows the company until March 17, 2008, to file its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission for 2006.
The assertion there that Mr. Rush was fired because he was trying to uncover or report financial improprieties is nonsense, according to a written statement from Sunrise. The company said it would not comment further on the issue, but said it would vigorously contest this legal action. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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