Former IPA Top 100 MP Suing Partner Group

The co-founder of Sparks, Md.-based SC&H Group (FY09 net revenue of $47.8 million) is suing the remaining owners of the firm, contending that he was fired so they could take over his ownership shares at a low price, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Co-founding partner, Thomas Stout is seeking $15 million in damages, plus $45 million in punitive damages from each of the owners. He also wants a receiver to oversee the dissolution and liquidation of the 280-employee firm, according to the suit he filed Friday in Baltimore County Circuit Court. The firm, also named as a defendant in the suit, has offices in Sparks, Atlanta and McLean, Va.

Stout helped found the firm in 1991 and had been MP until he was fired on May 28. The other owners, Ronald Causey, Gregory Horning and Michael Young, wrote in a termination letter that Stout was failing to report to work and displayed “an unacceptable and disruptive leadership style.”

The suit alleges that the owners were trying to gain control of Stout’s stake of ownership when stock prices were low. The price of a share in the firm’s employee stock ownership plan had fallen to $45.80 at the end of 2009 after the recession hit. The value was $57.39 at the end of 2008.

Under the terms of a signed agreement, Stout would have to sell his shares the following year at a price determined by the year-end value minus a 25% discount if he were dismissed for cause, the newspaper reported.

“This plan was conceived, orchestrated and implemented for the purpose of enriching the individual defendants to the detriment, and at the expense, of Stout,” the suit alleges.

Katie Lochte, a spokeswoman for SC&H Group, told the Sun: “The allegations are completely unwarranted, and we’ll defend them in court.”