Interpublic mulls options in Kassan fight

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The top lawyer at Interpublic Group of Cos. would not rule out a countersuit against Michael Kassan, the "terminated'' president of its Western Initiative Media Worldwide unit. In comments Aug. 17, Interpublic general counsel Nicholas Camera said "stay tuned'' when asked about possible legal action against Mr. Kassan. Interpublic yesterday disclosed the Western Initiative executive had been discharged on Aug. 13, and his duties assigned to Western Initiative Media Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Michael Lotito. On the same day as his dismissal, Mr. Kassan has filed suit against Interpublic in U.S. District Court in New York on Aug. 13 alleging "anticipatory breach of [his five-year employment] contract.'' He is seeking a total $63.5 million - $50 million in arbitration before the American Arbitration Association in Los Angeles and another $13.5 million in his federal court suit. Industry insiders believe Interpublic will defend with a suit of its own; it has 20 days to file its own suit (or ask for an extension) in response to Mr. Kassan's New York filing.

The arbitration in Los Angeles will be a private proceeding. Mr. Camera declined to elaborate on Interpublic's plans, adding only: "He's brought suit and we're going to vigorously defend that.''

Copyright August 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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