Recently, Deloitte & Touche, the former auditor of Adelphia Communications, announced it would drop charges against the Rigas family. Deloitte had sued the family back in 2003, alleging fraud and misrepresentation. (Google “Rigas fraud” for background).
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Rigas family lawyer, Lawrence McMichael, recently announced his intentions to pursue a full trial (effectively forcing Deloitte & Touche to proceed with the case) so the family could clear its name. His reasoning? This way “a public record can be made of what really happened at Adelphia.”
Valiant, perhaps, but foolish. In doing so, McMichael breaks a cardinal rule of crisis communications: never restate the negative.
The Adelphia scandal is one of the most extensive financial fraud cases ever to take place at a public company. Forcing a trial would revive forgotten charges and allegations, prolonging the negative. Simply put, you don’t polish your family reputation by jumping back into courtroom muck and rolling around. A full trial may be vindication for the family, but it won’t sway public perception – especially not with two members of the Rigas family already serving lengthy prison sentences.
So McMichael, I know you want the legal victory (and the legal fees), but for the good of your client, just let it go.