A former sales manager for a DuPage County dealer of
Caterpillar heavy equipment has fired back against his former employer’s legal claims
he manipulated sales promotions for his own benefit, and has filed his own
lawsuit against the owner of Patten Industries, claiming his ex-boss followed
through on threats to treat his departure to another company as “a bad divorce”
by launching a smear campaign to ruin him professionally.
In late September, Michael Jaworski filed suit in Cook
County Circuit Court against Patten Industries and its owner, Garrett Patten,
alleging defamation against both Patten and his company for Patten’s alleged
actions following Jaworski’s decision to accept an employment offer from a
company which had previously been a Patten customer.
“In the months following his departure from Patten
Industries, Jaworski learned from his contacts within the Caterpillar Industry
that Patten wanted to ‘crucify’ Jaworski and ‘destroy’ Jaworski’s reputation
within the Caterpillar Industry, something Jaworski had spent over 14 years
building and which was the cornerstone of Jaworski’s ability to earn a
livelihood,” Jaworski wrote in his defamation lawsuit.
“To achieve Patten’s goal, Patten, both individually and
through his surrogates at Patten Industries, engaged in a widespread campaign
of maliciously publishing numerous false statements about Jaworski to third
parties within the Caterpillar Industry that were intended, and actually did,
injure Jaworski’s professional reputation.”
Jaworksi’s lawsuit landed in court exactly one month after
Patten Industries filed suit against him, also in Cook County court, demanding
$9 million for alleged misconduct while Jaworski worked for Patten.
According to court documents, Jaworski had worked for the
Elmhurst-based Patten Industries for 14 years, beginning in 2001, moving up the
ranks to the rank of sales manager.
However, Patten alleged in its legal action that Jaworski had
since 2008 abused special financing offers through Caterpillar to help
otherwise ineligible customers receive a special deal, and in the process,
boost his own sales, commissions and bonuses.
Patten alleged Jaworski’s purported actions have cost the
company more than $6 million, and left it the target of a $550,000 lawsuit
brought by the company for which Jaworski now works, Beverly Lawn Maintenance.
Patten also asked the court to order Jaworski to pay $4 million in punitive
Jaworski has disputed Patten’s accusations, and said all of
Patten’s actions are linked to the dealership owner’s desire for retribution
against Jaworski for leaving the company.
According to Jaworski’s lawsuit, he told his superiors in
2013 he had turned down a job offer from a competing Caterpillar dealer, but
was feeling “burned out” at Patten. At that time, Jaworski alleged Garrett
Patten first threatened him, telling him if he left, it would be “like a bad
In 2015, Jaworski accepted an offer from Beverly, and submitted
Thereafter, Jaworski alleged Patten began reviewing Jaworski’s
work for evidence he had behaved improperly. And in the months that followed,
Jaworski alleged Patten and others associated with him told others who work in
the Caterpillar dealership industry that Jaworski had accepted bribes from
customers in exchange for “favorable sales contracts” and had “embezzled money.”
Jaworski alleged Patten also spread rumors Jaworski had left
Patten Industries “because he knew that Patten would eventually learn of the
Alleged Bribery Scheme.”
Jaworski said he has routinely now received calls and
messages from others associated with Caterpillar and Cat dealers asking about
these rumors, and they have damaged his professional reputation.
He denied these statements, saying they were “false” and
were “made with actual malice and intent to cause Jaworski harm.”
Jaworski has asked the court to order Patten to pay unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Jaworski is represented in the actions by attorneys with the
firm of Kluever & Platt LLC, of Chicago.
Patten Industries is represented by the firm of Schain Banks
Kenny & Schwartz, of Chicago.