Fired Mercedes-Benz USA boss Ernst Lieb's wrongful-dismissal lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in a Stuttgart court on April 12. Lieb will challenge allegations contained in Daimler's response to that suit that he improperly used more than $100,000 in company funds to upgrade the Mercedes-owned U.S. home in Mahwah, N.J., where he lived.
Lieb's lawyer, Stefan Naegele, intends to show that the 56-year-old executive was one of dozens of Mercedes executives who has been fired unfairly as part of parent Daimler's wide-reaching "zero tolerance" crackdown on ethics violations.
"None of the accusations are justified. And we will prove that," Naegele told Automotive News Europe in late December.
Daimler fired Lieb in October, ending his five-year run as CEO of the U.S. unit. During a Nov. 29 preliminary hearing, Daimler alleged that Lieb used company money to pay for items such as a home theater system, home gym, washer, dryer and built-in barbecue system.
A Daimler spokesman said Lieb was fired because he "made incomplete, inaccurate and manipulative statements to the company and the responsible persons" during a company audit of spending by overseas executives.
My suggestion to both parties: Get this settled as quickly and quietly as possible. The longer this drags on the worse it will be for the image of both sides.