BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- A court here ruled last week that Wal-Mart Stores cannot sue former Vice Chairman Tom Coughlin over his alleged misuse of company funds because he signed an agreement with the firm that prohibits lawsuits between the two parties, according to reports.
Wal-Mart also wants Coughlin to return $400,491.90 that he received in an erroneous benefits payment.
At a recent analysts' meeting in Rogers, Ark., H. Lee Scott, chairman and chief executive officer, Wal-Mart, said Coughlin's departure initially created some morale problems within the company until the full scope of the allegations against him was made public.
"Some people [inside the company] said we should not have responded the way we did, or we should have made this go away quietly," Scott said. "But if you think like that, then you deserve the Enrons of the world."
Some Wal-Mart associates felt the company had betrayed its loyalty to a longtime executive, Scott continued. "People who believe in personal loyalty felt let down, and that created some morale issues," he said. "But their tone changed when 160 different occurrences were made public, after which more people understood this was a human failing."