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Epileptic Mortgage Exec Settles Suit Over Ouster

DALLAS (CN) - The founder of W.R. Starkey Mortgage has settled claims that his former partners and friends took advantage of his epilepsy and forced him out for little to nothing.

William Starkey and the trio he sued - John Aspinwall, Scott Benson and WRSM - filed a joint motion last week, and Judge Dale Tillery dismissed the case with prejudice Thursday. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

In his June complaint, Starkey accused the defendants of capitalizing on his illness to seize control of the Plano-based company. Starkey said that WRSM grew under his leadership from humble beginnings 12 years ago with only $1 million and two other employees into to one of the top 25 mortgage firms in the country.

It had its best year in 2009, when it processed $4 billion in loans and made more than $25 million in net income, according to the complaint.

Starkey said the first sign of his condition arose at a managers' meeting in 2009 where he was to speak about the company's charitable foundation.

"When Starkey got up to speak, he had an epileptic fit - a mini seizure - that lasted about one minute," the complaint stated. "When Starkey came to, he immediately gathered his things, left the meeting, got in his car, and drove home. It was apparent to Starkey and other managers that Starkey's physical and mental condition was deteriorating due to his illness."

He said he asked Aspinwall to come out of retirement to work as the company's managing partner, sharing more details of his condition.

"Starkey shared more details of his epilepsy with Aspinwall, including his continuing problems with seizures and episodes of disturbed brain functions that Starkey was experiencing and having trouble dealing with," the complaint stated. "It was then that Aspinwall realized that Starkey was vulnerable and susceptible to an emotional attack - especially from what Starkey perceived as a trusted friend. Aspinwall and Benson began to formulate a scheme to unlawfully wrest control of Starkey Mortgage from Starkey. They plotted that, with enough pressure, they could break Starkey, push him out of Starkey Mortgage, and abscond with Starkey's stock for little or nothing."

In November, the defendants moved to compel Starkey disclose his medical records, arguing that the suit opens the door to the otherwise confidential information.

"Because of these allegations, and a count of intentional infliction of emotional distress asserted against the defendants, Starkey has put his physical and mental health at issue in this case," the five-page motion stated.

Among other things, the men wanted all of Starkey's medical and mental health records since 2000, as well as all documents referencing Starkey's health, mental condition and epilepsy during that timeframe.

Judge Tillery granted the motion later that month.

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