Motorola ex-CFO alleges wrongful firing in 'whistle-blower' lawsuit

The intrigue surrounding the dismissal of former Motorola CFO Paul Liska (photo) continues to grow, with Liska now alleging in a lawsuit against the handset maker that the company fired him in a retaliatory fashion, a more serious charge than previously thought.

Liska's lawsuit against Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola is based on a claim of  "retaliatory discharge," more serious than the "wrongful dismissal" charge that was previously reported. The suit, which was filed in Illinois, is essentially known as a "whistle-blower" lawsuit in federal court. Liska is alleging that he was fired for doing something that was in the public interest of Illinois.

Liska claims he was fired after a board meeting Jan. 29. When Motorola reported its fourth quarter earnings Feb. 3, it announced his dismissal. Motorola said in a proxy statement Feb. 19 that Liska was fired "for cause." One day later, Liska filed suit.

The lawsuit is sealed, meaning that Cook County Circuit Court clerk's office won't allow the public to review the files. Motorola said it has complied with all financial reporting requirements. 

Motorola hired Liska to try to help spin off the company's troubled mobile devices division, but that plan has been indefinitely put on hold. Liska called for a dramatic restructuring of Motorola's business. Motorola reported a $3.6 billion net loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the handset division posted a $595 million operating loss in the quarter.

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