An energy-efficient lighting startup in Boise imploded in less than two years, and a contentious falling-out among partners has led to a lawsuit.
Viridis Energy Solutions was set up in 2010 to provide lighting that would reduce energy costs for buildings. According to a lawsuit filed Dec. 7 in Ada County district court, about 19 months later the managing member of the company, Nadina Gillette, and the biggest investor, Adam Grad, started leveling accusations at one another over misspent company funds and unfulfilled promises.
Gillette, who had a 20 percent stake in the company, is suing Grad for unpaid wages, defamation and damage to her personal credit. Another Viridis employee, Dale Finlay, is also suing for unpaid wages.
Gillette was forced out of her management position by Grad in September 2011, when Grad and a Small Business Development counselor, Rick Vycital, accused Gillette of embezzling company funds, the lawsuit states. Vycital is not named as a defendant.
“Vycital also threatened Ms. Gillette stating that she was facing jail time,” the lawsuit states.
Gillette was never charged with a crime.
On the same day, Grad and Vycital took Gillette off the business accounts of Viridis at D.L. Evans bank, again accusing her of embezzlement in front of bank employees, the lawsuit alleges.
Gillette, in turn, has accused Grad of misappropriating company funds by giving free samples worth tens of thousands of dollars to friends and colleagues, hiring an assistant with company funds without approval by anyone else in the company, and using the company expense credit card for personal benefit.
Grad declined to comment on the litigation.
Further, Gillette and Finlay claim that Grad never paid them for their work, which the lawsuit states was to be $6,000 per month for Gillette and $2,500 a month for Finlay.
The partners also had issues with company operating capital. Gillette alleges that Grad never paid in the full $250,000 investment that was to make him a partner with 55 percent share of the company, which made it difficult for Viridis to pay its bills.
Following Gillette’s expulsion from the bank account, outstanding bills and taxes have not been paid by the company, the lawsuit states, causing bill collectors to come after Gillette and affect her personal credit.
“From October 10, 2011 until the filing (of the lawsuit), Ms. Gillette has received collection calls, registered letters, and collection letters due to Grad’s failure and refusal to maintain and manage Viridis’ finances as promised,” the lawsuit states.
Gillette and Finlay’s attorney, Kim Trout, said in an interview that Gillette was not listed as a guarantor on any of the company’s loans. Still, he states in the lawsuit, creditors have targeted her as the managing member of the company.
Gillette formally resigned from the company in October 2011. Grad, in his LinkedIn profile, states he stopped being CEO of the company in September 2011.
The lawsuit is asking for an unspecified amount of lost wages and damages. It also requests $20,000 in attorney fees from Grad.