Politics & Government

Former Cardinal CEO sues the man who investigated him

Former Cardinal Innovations CEO Richard Topping
Former Cardinal Innovations CEO Richard Topping

Two months after an investigator for Cardinal Innovations claimed that former CEO Richard Topping engaged in "a pattern of self-enrichment" at the agency's expense, Topping is suing the investigator.

The suit, filed Wednesday, accuses attorney Kurt Meyers and his firm, McGuire Woods, of libel and slander. Earlier this month Topping filed a similar suit against Cardinal, several executives and a board member.

Meyers could not be reached Wednesday.

The latest suit continues the year-long drama involving Cardinal and its management. It included a state auditor's report ripping Cardinal for spending on Topping's pay as well as on Christmas parties, board retreats and charter flights. It was punctuated in November when state health officials took over the agency and fired its board.

Cardinal, which operates in 20 counties, is North Carolina's largest so-called LME/MCO, an organization that manages a treatment network for people with disabilities, mental health needs and substance abuse.

In March Meyers, a former assistant U.S. attorney, laid out an extraordinarily detailed case against Topping at a news conference. In a nearly 90-minute presentation, he used documents, emails and text messages in an effort to show Topping repeatedly sought higher compensation. He alleged that Topping "stole" proprietary information, destroyed agency data and engaged in "a pattern of self-enrichment . . . at the expense of Cardinal."

In his previous suit, Topping claimed Meyers' presentation was "misleading and false." He countered virtually every point.

In Wednesday's suit, Topping claims that Meyers used evidence selectively and out of context. And by speaking to the media, the suit claims, Meyers violated the Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits a lawyer who participates in an investigation of a matter from making statements to the press that would prejudice a party to a judicial proceeding related to that matter.