NPA sues 10 current and former board members who allegedly sought to ‘undermine’ organization

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

NPA sues 10 current and former board members who allegedly sought to ‘undermine’ organization

Related tags: Board of directors

The Natural Products Association has filed suit against 10 current and former board members whom it said had sought to “undermine the organization’s ability to do its work” by cooperating in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed by former CFO Brent Weickert.

“The suit filed today by NPA will shine light on those who have sought to undermine NPA and its mission.  NPA will continue to vigorously defend itself against false accusations made against the organization and we are confident that we will prevail,”​ said NPA CEO Dan Fabricant, PhD.

NPA’s lawsuit​, filed yesterday in district court in the District of Columbia, named 10 defendants, five of whom are current members of the board of directors and one of whom resigned on Feb. 1.

The terms of the other four expired at the end of 2015. In a statement, Fabricant said the board members acted on “their personal whims, nothing more.”​  

Weickert’s lawsuit, filed in early December in California and since moved to the DC district court, alleges that he was wrongfully dismissed in October 2015 as a result of trying to bring the board’s attention to allegedly abusive behavior by Fabricant​.

Weickert’s suit charges that Fabricant had created a hostile work environment and improperly charged bar tabs and visits to strip clubs and expensive restaurants to the corporate account. Weickert said that when he tried to bring this to the board’s attention, he was first marginalized and subsequently fired.

Positive record

NPA’s suit seeks to build up a positive record for Fabricant’s time at NPA. According to the suit, the organization was moribund in 2014 when the board turned to Fabricant, who at the time was director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs at the Food and Drug Administration. Fabricant went to FDA after a previous stint at NPA, where he was acting director for a time.

Under his leadership, membership has rebounded and the organization comments on federal legislation more frequently than other industry trade organizations, according to the filing. The lawsuit also claims that despite Weickert’s claims of financial impropriety, Fabricant has put NPA on a more secure financial footing, in part by reforming the dues structure and rebuilding the membership, with the addition of 350 new members since April, 2014.

NPA’s suit further states that Fabricant had taken Weickert to task over Weickert’s job performance in early 2015 and told him at that time he should prepare to transition out of NPA. Shortly thereafter the suit alleges that Weickert began to conspire with the 10 board members in an attempt to have Fabricant removed.

The suit charges the board members with breach of fiduciary responsibility and civil conspiracy and seeks attorney’s fees, punitive damages as well as compensatory damages in excess of $75,000. The suit also seeks compensation from the defendants for any damages and costs NPA may incur as a result of Weickert’s lawsuit.

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