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Federal Judge Vindicates Superior Steel and Its Manager

Two years ago, we reported on a federal lawsuit filed by former sales rep Michael Vackar against Superior Supply & Steel in which the ex-employee accused his boss of firing him because he didn't take prospective clients to strip clubs for, uh, special favors.

The Houston Press has now learned that in late 2013, U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal granted partial summary judgment against the ex-employee, Michael Vackar, ruling that there was no evidence to support Vackar's claims, but plenty to support Superior's claim that the guy was fired for being a lousy salesman and for filing false expense reports.

Rosenthal also granted summary judgment in favor of Superior's counterclaims against Vackar in January 2014, ruling that the ex-employee had engaged in fraud, libel and slander, and business disparagement. Rosenthal also granted the company's motion for sanctions against Vackar.

In a scathing decision, Rosenthal meticulously laid out details that exposed Vackar's claims as bogus and defamatory. (Perhaps Vackar thought that, if he closed his eyes and clicked his heels together during the discovery process, the dreamy claims he dared to file would really come true.)

Rosenthal's rulings refer to emails from Vackar's boss, stating, "In nine weeks with the company, Vackar failed to make a sale and was far from achieving his first, facts Vackar does not dispute. Emails from Vackar's boss show not only continued concern over Vackar's performance and failure to improve, but that Superior had already begun the process of replacing Vackar before it discovered the expense-report fraud."

The judge's decision also indicates that, in addition to being a poor salesman, Vackar also wasn't even clever with his fraudulent expense reports. While touring a potential customer's facilities, Vackar's boss met a woman who Vackar had stated in an expense report was part of a "dinner meeting." Problem was, the woman said there was no meeting, according to the judge's decision.

And this wasn't an isolated incident -- Vackar even later admitted that he didn't have a Valentine's dinner with a client and the client's wife, as he had claimed in an expense report. Not only didn't the dinner take place, but the dude wasn't even married.

Superior also submitted evidence showing that, before Vackar's boss even discovered the falsified reports, he was concerned about the reports' "unnecessary and excessive expenses."

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At one point, emails show, Vackar's boss told the sales staff to "[s]pend the company's money as you would your own. We don't need to eat steak every time we go to dinner or order food in excess."

Rosenthal's rulings on the counterclaims state in part that "Superior has submitted uncontroverted evidence that at least some of what Vackar's counsel told the media was false."

Rosenthal also found that, although Vackar told the media that there were "multiple" witnesses to the company's alleged mistreatment, Vackar recanted during discovery, saying there was only one witness. Yet not even that witness supported Vackar's claims.

And so, the Houston Press is pleased to remind readers that claims made in very public lawsuits are not always true. Shame on Michael Vackar for the expense and distress he visited upon Superior Steel and his former boss.

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