LAS VEGAS (CN) - Two former employees say locally prominent attorney Adam S. Kutner fired them for cooperating with the state Bar's investigation of whether his law firm improperly gives "gift baskets" of money to clients in exchange for referrals.
Miranda Tenner and Lindsay Gibbs sued Kutner and his law office, in Clark County Court, alleging conspiracy, defamation, tortious firing, battery and other complaints. They also sued office employees Keith Lyons and Teresa Egan.
Tenner says she returned from maternity leave to an "openly hostile and verbally abusive" environment, including Egan slamming files on her desk and screaming profanities at her in "multiple face-to-face altercations."
Lindsay Gibbs, a full-time runner, says she returned to work after a spinal fracture she suffered in a sledding accident and was asked to assemble "gift baskets," for which she "was given stacks of $100 bills totaling anywhere between $1,300 and $2,500 and sent to Wal-Mart to purchase gift cards in the amount of $250 each."
Gibbs says she was told to include the gift cards in gift baskets "which were then given or delivered to former clients who referred new clients that defendant Kutner agreed to represent."
Gibbs says she raised her concerns about the gift baskets with her bosses, and was reassigned shortly thereafter.
The State Bar of Nevada then started an investigation, the plaintiffs say, and they cooperated.
Tenner claims that in July this year, Lyons and Cynthia Douglass, Kutner's human resources manager, escorted her to a conference room, closed the door and interrogated her.
"Lyons improperly attempted to pressure Tenner into retracting her affidavit and demanded that she sign a perjurious affidavit to exculpate" the law firm, she says.
"When Tenner began making changes to the false portions of the affidavit, Lyons forcibly snatched the document from her hands," the complaint states. "Lyons threatened Tenner by telling her she had no rights, and that she had to sit there until he released her."
Tenner says she "begged" to speak with her attorney, but Lyons refused. When she rose from her chair to leave, she says Lyons and Douglass "stood up to prevent [her] from leaving the room, placing Tenner in fear of her personal safety."
"Lyons continued to interrogate and strong-arm Tenner, confining her to the conference room against her will" for about an hour, the complaint states.
Plaintiff Gibbs later entered into the room and found Tenner "facing the wall, sobbing and visibly distraught."
Tenner contacted the State Bar of Nevada, claiming "that she felt she was being held hostage," and "within 30 minutes, attorneys ... arrived to free Tenner from confinement," she says. She was sent home and ultimately fired.
That same day, Gibbs says, Douglass told her she was suspended pending investigation. Gibbs says she asked that her suspension be put in writing, but Douglass refused.
Plaintiffs seek punitive damages for the charges mentioned above, and for false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by John Marcin with Marcin Lambirth.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.