Prairie Ridge Wins $156K Defamation Lawsuit Against Former Workers

(Beaver Dam) A local company has won a defamation lawsuit filed against former workers who orchestrated a scheme to harm the reputation of the business. Prairie Ridge Assisted Living owner Michael Eisenga filed the civil lawsuit in Dodge County last year against six former employees.

The court dismissed claims against two of the employees but the other four were recently ordered to pay a combined $156-thousand dollars. The defendants ordered to pay damages include Nichole Terlisner, Elizabeth Kohlstedt and Cynthia Piggott – all of Beaver Dam – and Alexis Berry of Horicon.

The lawsuit stemmed from a March 2017 incident that was later reported in print and television media. Terlisner made 14 calls to family members of facility residents – shortly after her shift started – claiming that she was the only employee on-site because everybody quit. One family member was urged to call 911 to report the understaffing. Piggott, a former executive director at the Waupun facility, was named because of defamatory comments she made on media websites and not because of her involvement in the plan.

The lawsuit disputed the claims, saying that Terlisner pressured employees to leave the facility, threatening that police were on their way and, in one case, offering $20 to comply. The lawsuit also maintained that Terlisner failed to follow protocol that includes first calling the executive director to request extra staff. The whole scheme was caught on video.

Eisenga says he hopes the successful lawsuit sends a message. You can listen to his comments in their entirety here: