The ex-news reporter who gunned down two former colleagues on live television last week had twice been paid to drop legal claims against employers, court records suggest.
Although the amounts paid were not disclosed in court filings, records in both cases establish that Vester Flanagan’s two lawsuits were “settled” and “compromised.” In a litigation context, those terms generally refer to monetary payments to resolve pending claims.
Flanagan was represented by a Tallahassee attorney when he sued a Florida TV station in 2000 for race discrimination and retaliation, records show. The court dismissed the case in 2001 after being advised that the matter had been “compromised and settled between the parties,” according to a court document.
Flanagan acted as his own attorney when he sued Roanoke television station WDBJ in 2014, alleging race and sex harassment. With a general district court trial just weeks away, the two sides told the judge that all matters between the parties “have been fully and completely resolved and compromised,” the dismissal order said.
The station was defended in Flanagan’s suit by attorneys from the LeClairRyan law firm.
A lawyer at the firm’s Richmond offices said the firm was unable to comment on any matter it may have handled for the station.
“While our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of this tragic event, as attorneys we have important confidentiality obligations to our clients. This is often particularly true with litigation matters, mediations and settlement agreements,” said LeClairRyan chief legal officer Bruce H. Matson.
Flanagan was sought as a suspect in the Aug. 26 fatal shootings of two former WDBJ co-workers and the wounding of a third person during a live broadcast at Smith Mountain Lake. Police say Flanagan later shot himself while pursued by officers and died at a hospital.
Flanagan had been fired by WDBJ in 2013 following a documented series of confrontations and conflicts with co-workers.