Former Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros is seeking to have the courts throw out a counterclaim filed by Barnes & Noble in October. The counterclaim is a response to Demos Parneros filing a suit over breach of contract and defamation in August.
The very messy fight between Barnes & Noble and Parneros revolves around who is to blame after a potential buyer for the troubled bookstore chain pulled out of the process in June of 2018. Parneros was early July, with no notice or warning from Barnes & Noble. Parneros filed his defamation and breach of contract suit in August. The 19-page document describes Barnes & Noble as a dysfunctional organization, and that Parneros had been recruited to turn the company around, but that his efforts were often thwarted by Leonard Riggio, the former CEO largest shareholder. Riggio has been with Barnes & Noble since 1971, during which time he took Barnes & Noble from one location and built it into the largest bookstore chain in America.
The suit then moves into allegations of sexual harassment against Parneros, with the implication that the allegations were used as a pretext for his firing by Riggio, who sought to regain control of the company. Parneros is seeking over 4 million dollars in severance pay plus damages.
Barnes and & Noble filed their countersuit at the end of October and doubled-down on the sexual assault allegations, citing additional women who had come forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior. The countersuit also claims that Parneros sabotaged the sale intentionally. Barnes & Noble’s countersuit seeks to “recoup his salary, bonus, and other benefits during the period of ‘disloyalty conduct’ and cancel his outstanding equity award.”
So far, it seems like both sides are unwilling to back down. It’s an ugly fight and it looks to get uglier.