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KM&M Helps The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt Successfully Resolve Wrongful Termination Claims by Co-Founder

September 15, 2005

In a widely-publicized court-supervised settlement entered into on September 9, 2005, KM&M successfully brought to a close a California wrongful termination lawsuit brought against The NAMES Project Foundation.  The Foundation is the custodian of The AIDS Memorial Quilt.  Virtually every one of the more than 40,000 panels that make up the Quilt memorialize the life of a person lost to AIDS.

The Foundation was sued for wrongful termination in January 2004 by one of its co-founders, whom it fired in December 2003.  The employee brought claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, retaliation under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, breach of employment contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Superior Court granted KM&M’s motions for summary adjudication and eliminated the wrongful termination, contract, and retaliation claims.  In deciding in favor of The NAMES Project Foundation, the Court specifically found that the Foundation had good cause to terminate employment and that the employee had presented no evidence to dispute the good cause.  Only the emotional distress claim survived to proceed to trial.

The Foundation settled the lawsuit in large part because of the resources the suit was diverting from its mission of AIDS education and awareness.  No money changed hands.  Instead, The Foundation agreed to allow the former employee to nominate four individuals, from which two would be accepted by The Foundation, as members of the Board of Directors.  The Foundation also agreed to allow the former employee to assist the Foundation in storing and displaying a limited number of Quilt panels in San Francisco.

The national news media have provided extensive coverage of the settlement.  The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press, United Kingdom Guardian, and other business and legal media all have run stories about the lawsuit’s resolution.

For more information about this litigation, please contact Charles Thompson in our San Francisco office.  For more information about The AIDS Memorial Quilt, please visit www.aidsquilt.org.