Just days ahead of a scheduled post-discovery conference, Barnes & Noble and former CEO Demos Parneros have ended their litigation over Parneros's 2018 firing.
In a short October 26 stipulation and order, both parties have agreed to drop their claims against the other—with prejudice—and have agreed to cover their own costs. Attorneys for Parneros declined to comment and a Barnes & Noble spokesperson said the retailer had no comment.
A joint statement from Parneros and Barnes & Noble reads: “Former CEO Demos Parneros and Barnes & Noble have amicably settled all claims regarding his termination in 2018. This matter has been resolved with no judicial determination of wrongdoing. The terms of the settlement are confidential.”
The abrupt end to the case comes after Barnes & Noble attorneys in September succeeded in knocking out Parneros's claim of defamation—the most serious and potentially costly claim against the company—via summary judgment. But in her mixed decision, judge Mary Kay Vyskocil ruled that Parneros's claim for a breach of the covenant of good faith could go to trial, along with a claim for breach of contract.
In a surprise move, Parneros was fired on July 3, 2018, with a short B&N press release alluding only to violations of company policy. In response, Parneros filed a bombshell breach of contract and defamation lawsuit on August 28, which alleged that B&N founder Len Riggio, irate over the collapse of a potential sale of the company, engineered Parneros’ firing on false pretenses so he could retake control of the company.
B&N responded with a countersuit, which accused Parneros of harassing a female employee, bullying a fellow executive, and alleged that the former CEO intentionally sabotaged a potential sale in June of 2018. A year later, in 2019, B&N was eventually sold to Elliot Management.
While many observers expected the litigation to be settled ahead of a trial, the sudden—and quiet—end to the litigation leaves Parneros's future employment prospects in question. In previous filings, Parneros had suggested that the sexual harassment accusation against him (which he strongly denies) has left the longtime executive virtually unemployable.
This story has been updated with further information.