War of words escalates in lawsuit against Better.com
A lawyer for the former Better.com second-in-command suing the lender criticized attacks from opposing attorneys and sources in a media report on Friday, while saying the lender was in dire financial straits.
Attorney Neal Brickman has defended ex-Better sales chief Sarah Pierce after Better attorneys CEO Vishal Garg and General Counsel Nicholas Calamari on Thursday asked a federal judge in separate letters to dismiss Pierce’s whistleblower costume. His lawsuit accuses Garg and the company of misleading investors about the lender’s financial performance, botched the company’s results. first collective dismissal and retaliation against her for raising concerns.
Better’s attorney and attorneys representing both Garg and Calamari allege Pierce’s complaint fails to meet required legal standards and framed it as an attempt to squeeze more money out of the business after he was fired presumed in February.
“Despite the company’s generosity and goodwill towards plaintiff, she quickly abandoned the company at one of its most critical times for personal gain,” wrote Steven Perlstein of Kobre & Kim, based in New York, in the name of Garg and Calamari.
Brickman told National Mortgage News Friday afternoon that he was confident U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres would allow Pierce’s suit to remain in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
“If the facts as they really happened come to light, it presents a very, very bad image for Mr. Garg and Better,” he said.
Brickman also criticized the allegations in a published article. Friday in the New York Post, who reported on Pierce’s alleged behavior in Slack messages shared by anonymous former employees. Pierce routinely ignored questions and bragged about not working, the Post reported, and appeared to have mentally checked out after Garg’s Zoom shot in December.
Pierce joined Better in 2016 as a salesman and quickly rose through the ranks to become head of sales and operations, earning a salary of $1 million with an additional $1 million bonus, the two parties confirmed in the legal documents. Brickman called Pierce’s underperformance allegations “rubbish” and cited his promotions and performance bonuses, among other internal recognitions.
“Ms. Pierce was not a sham,” Brickman said in a separate emailed statement. “This assassination attempt is the result of Ms. Pierce’s courage to speak truth to power.”
Brickman also said SoftBank, Better’s backer, had been in contact with him about the lawsuit and had serious concerns about Garg’s behavior and Better’s financial disclosures. Better would be “dangerously close” to dipping below the cash reserve level required by its warehouse line of credit to fund mortgages and has a cash burn rate of $40 million a month, Brickman said, claiming that the information came from a “source with expert knowledge.”
“It’s definitely not my area of expertise,” he said. “But I would be shocked if this SPAC transaction happened.”
Better’s planned merger with special-purpose acquisition company Aurora Acquisition Corp. to go public was announced last may, and the company’s last filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission was published two months ago. Aurora Acquisition Corp. had no comment Friday, while SoftBank and Better did not return requests for comment Friday afternoon.
The war of words comes a day after Better’s announcement of eight executive hiresa rare public statement from the company after months of headlines from collective redundancies and huge financial losses.