RACINE - Former SC Johnson employee Michael DeGuelle was ordered to pay the company $50,000 in damages Wednesday, the second and final day of a civil trial.
Judge Charles Constantine also ordered DeGuelle to sign an affidavit swearing he no longer has possession of any confidential SC Johnson documents. DeGuelle must turn over documents he received as part of the trial to be filed with the court as well.
Immediately following the judgment DeGuelle said, "Judge Constantine is either utterly incompetent or in the pocket of SC Johnson."
DeGuelle said he plans to appeal the judgment.
DeGuelle, who worked in the company's tax department for 12 years, accused SC Johnson in 2009 of tax fraud, which led to a lawsuit by the company. DeGuelle later countersued the company, but all claims made by DeGuelle were dismissed in an earlier ruling.
A trial began Tuesday to determine what, if any, damages the company was owed by DeGuelle because of his fraud allegations.
SC Johnson employees testified Tuesday that DeGuelle's allegations cost the company money and a favorable rating with an organization that ranks companies ethically. The company's attorney, Jeffrey Leavell, provided evidence of SC Johnson paying out nearly $95,000 to combat the criminal accusations made by DeGuelle, but asked for $50,000 in damages.
"The damage to SC Johnson has been far-reaching," Leavell said.
He said it is also permanent, because an Internet search today will bring up stories about DeGuelle's accusations.
"We could have shot for the moon," Leavell said. "This company does have a conscience. It's not seeking what it could."
DeGuelle said he should not owe the company anything.
"They brought upon their own damages," he said during the trial. "SC Johnson was unethical and brought this on themselves. I should not be held liable."
He said he has been punished already with the loss of his career, his financial ruin and the loss of assets.
"Liberty and justice for all; not unless you have the money for it," said DeGuelle, who represented himself. "I'm being denied the opportunity to present the ultimate defense: the truth."
Constantine said the damages being requested by SC Johnson were modest and reasonable. He ordered DeGuelle to pay $100 for the breach of contract and $49,900 for defamation.
Constantine also ordered DeGuelle to turn over any confidential company documents he has to the court. That way they will be available when he files his appeal, the judge said.
Following the judge's decision, SC Johnson spokeswoman Kelly Semrau said the company was thrilled.
"We needed to protect the hard-earned reputation of SC Johnson, as integrity and a high ethical standard are part of our core values on how we operate," she said.
Semrau said the company will donate the $50,000 DeGuelle has been ordered to pay them to the Health Care Network, a non-profit agency that provides free or low cost health care to residents of Racine County in need.
"After of two years of litigation, it is gratifying the community will benefit from the outcome," Semrau said.