In the United States, anyone can file a lawsuit. But some are more brazen than others.
In the ranks of people who violated procedures in the lacrosse case, only Mike Nifong exceeded DNA Security lab director Brian Meehan. Working in concert with Nifong, Meehan produced a “report” that didn’t list all the results from his lab’s tests—in violation of state law and lab accreditation standards. That the withheld material just happened to be exculpatory was, apparently, just a coincidence.
Then Meehan tried to bluff his way through the Dec. 15, 2006 court hearing, at first denying that he hadn’t reported all of the tests results, only to admit—under a brutal cross-examination from Brad Bannon—over and over and over again that he had done so. He even admitted that his company didn’t follow its own policies. A few minutes later, Meehan told Jim Cooney that he and Nifong had, in fact, entered into an agreement not to produce the information. A few months later, Meehan gave such a meandering performance in the Nifong ethics hearing that Lane Williamson dubbed him “Mr. Obfuscation.”
Meehan’s conduct exposed his employers to massive legal liability; it’s unknown how much DNA Security has had to pay thus far to defend against lawsuits resulting from Meehan’s performance and inquiries from agencies threatening to revoke DSI’s accreditation. So it should hardly have come as any surprise that DSI fired Meehan—to have kept him on staff not only would have effectively endorsed his handling of the lacrosse case, but would have ensured that no law enforcement agency could ever risk hiring the company again.
Incredibly, Meehan sued DSI for . . . wrongful termination. He brazenly suggested that the company’s reasons for dismissing him were “untrue and immaterial.” (How Meehan could have concluded that his violating state law and national accreditation standards was “immaterial” to evaluating his job performance was unclear.) Instead, the former lab director suggested, he had lost his job because DSI wanted to avoid paying him cost-of-living increases(!).
Meehan wildly added, as the Burlington Times-News drily noted, that DSI’s decision to fire him caused a “loss of professional reputation, mental anguish and emotional distress, loss of quality and enjoyment of life and other damages.” What “professional reputation” Meehan had left after his performance in the lacrosse case the former lab director didn’t say.
This argument was so weak that Senior Resident Superior Court Judge J.B. Allen Jr. of Alamance County granted DSI’s request for a summary judgment and dismissed Meehan’s lawsuit before it ever made it to a trial.
The decision was an obvious one: if Brian Meehan couldn’t be fired for “just cause,” it would be difficult to imagine a scenario in which such a rationale would be permitted.