Three years after a bevy of lawsuits shook the numismatic world as the American Numismatic Association sued its former information technology director and several former staff members, only to face a series of counterclaims that has cost the organization dearly in public opinion, it?s over.
With a whimper, a press release announced that ?The ANA board of governors voted unanimously to dismiss all claims against [John] Nebel, [Susie] Nulty, [Wayne] Abraham and [Larry] Lee.? The bottom line: that ?put an end (to) this litigation.?
As a condition of settlement, the ANA agreed to make a payment to offset a portion of the defendants? litigation costs. John Nebel, whose company Computer System Design Company was also sued, confirmed the resolution.
?The ANA and the Defendants prefer to engage in numismatics, not litigation. The ANA wishes to extend its sincere apology to the defendants for the hardship that this litigation has caused,? the press release said.
In an initial news release three years ago, where media was requested to contact the attorney for the then-ANA executive director Christopher Cipoletti and the ANA, the Denver law firm of Davis, Graham & Stubbs, LLP, it was claimed ANA brought suit ?to protect the security of its Internet site and the privacy of membership and other confidential information.?
Originally named as defendants are ANA life member and former computer consultant John Nebel and his consulting firm, as identified in the news release; the other defendants were ?Wayne Abraham, a former ANA controller and former interim executive director; Barbara ?Susie? Nulty, a former ANA Internet technology director, and Larry Lee, former ANA curator.
At the time, Joel W. Cantrick of the Denver law firm of Ducker, Montgomery, Aronstein & Bess, P.C., who represents Nebel and Computer Systems Design, and other defendants, said ?the allegations of the complaint are not well founded.? Time and a lot of dollars has proven him correct.
Among the allegations: ?In February 2003 through June 2003, [Wayne] Abraham [the former ANA Controller] faxed and e-mailed Cipoletti multiple times demanding that Cipoletti meet with him and threatening Cipoletti with legal action over his termination of employment five years earlier.?
The complaint claimed that Larry ?Lee was also upset as a result of staffing decisions that were made, particularly regarding the individual selected to be Lee?s supervisor.? It went on to say that ?After that time, Lee engaged in disruptive and subversive behavior including, but not limited to, submitting reimbursement requests for unapproved meetings and inappropriately disclosing the terms under which certain employees ended employment with ANA.?
It continued that ?Lee also accused Cipoletti of stealing from the ANA and stated that he was stealing money from the ANA to finance his home.?
Ultimately, a conspiracy was alleged. ?In or around November or December, 2003 ANA employees witnessed Lee, Nebel and Nulty having lunch together. ANA believes that Nebel, Nulty, Abraham and Lee continued to meet for the purposes of harassing and conspiring against ANA and Cipoletti.? Cipoletti and the ANA are both represented by Janet Savage, a partner in the Davis, Graham law firm.
Cipoletti was the ANA?s outside general counsel and became executive director on the retirement of Edward C. Rochette in 2003.
The prosecution of that lawsuit has probably cost ANA into the mid-six figures, and had no end in sight. The case was coming up for trial. It had been postponed four times to August 2008.
The resolution followed several meetings between the ANA and John Nebel in which the ANA agreed to dismiss all claims against Nebel, Nulty, Lee and Abraham.
Nebel also expressed relief that the litigation has been resolved. ?I have been a dedicated ANA member for many years and this is best for all of us, including the ANA,? he said. ?The four of us named in this lawsuit are glad to finally put it behind us. We always believed the ANA was a good organization and hope it again can focus on its mission to meet the needs of numismatists around the world.?