As some of you may recall, back in March, Highland Capital Management founder and CEO James Dondero testified that he is "insolvent under Texas family law, if not according to normal accounting rules," despite a 2010 tax return showing his adjusted gross income that year to be in excess of $36 million. The reason his finances were in question was because Dondero filed for divorce in September, and how much he owes his wife Becky is currently in dispute. Becky is "seeking enforcement of a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing her half of the couple’s community property, capped at $5 million," plus "spousal support and interim attorney fees." James, maybe you can glean, is hoping it will be less than that and perhaps even nothing. One thing that really didn't help his case? A drinking buddy/former employee/former friend Dondero thought had his back taking the opportunity to speak out of turn!
Patrick Daugherty, a former senior portfolio manager at Highland who quit in October, testified that he met with James Dondero for drinks last month. “He told me his plan was to get his net worth down and pay her as little as possible,” said Daugherty, who was called to the stand by Becky Dondero.
That testimony was given on March 28th. On April 11-- and please, do not think we suggest this is some sort of retaliation but clearly just a mere coincidence--, this happened:
Highland Capital Management, the $20 billion hedge fund and private equity firm based in Dallas, has launched a lawsuit that calls its former private equity investing chief a “megalomaniacal” manager who engaged in “abusive tirades” that “dehumanized employees.” Patrick Daugherty is the former head of stressed special situations and private equity at Highland Capital Management, where he was responsible for $8 billion of assets until he resigned in September 2011. Known as a blunt-speaking Texan, Daugherty has served on the board of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and as chairman of companies like Cornerstone Health Group.
According to a 14-page complaint Highland filed in Texas state court in Dallas earlier in April, Daugherty has been paid in excess of $26 million while at the firm, but voluntarily resigned after “Highland refused to accede to his unacceptable ultimatums and megalomaniacal demands regarding compensation.” The lawsuit claims that Daugherty was “belligerent to peers” and that Highland employees complained and even quit after Daugherty publicly berated them as “‘f—ing idiots’” and disparaged them using other vulgarities. Highland, which has a reputation in the investment community for using hard-hitting tactics, pulls no punches in a lawsuit that at times can appear cruel. It claims that Daugherty’s tenure at Highland was characterized by extreme behavior and his performance diminished over the years as he “became increasingly unmanageable, erratic, and insubordinate.”
Case in point? Running his mouth in, for example, a certain someone's divorce proceedings.