The Tulsa-based insurance company First Trinity Financial Corp. and its CEO have filed a defamation lawsuit against one of its former directors after he asked state securities and insurance regulators to investigate the company's leadership.
In its lawsuit, First Trinity and CEO Gregg Zahn claim that former state lawmaker Wayne Pettigrew, who served on the company's board of directors until earlier this year, made false accusations against Zahn that damaged the company's reputation. First Trinity claims Pettigrew sent out inaccurate information to the news media about Zahn, including accusing him of committing acts of sexual harassment and engaging in illegal stock sales.
“The harm to a public company that occurs when untruthful and reckless statements like those made by Mr. Pettigrew is nearly immeasurable,” Keith Ward, an attorney for First Trinity, said in a statement. “Mr. Pettigrew was not invited to continue as a member of the board of directors earlier this year. Apparently as a result, he has taken it on himself to punish First Trinity by false accusations and innuendos.”
Pettigrew, who served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1994 to 2004, announced his departure from Trinity's board earlier this year with a news release that was sent to local news outlets that said he had called on the Oklahoma insurance and securities departments to investigate Zahn.
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