Lift Up the Downtrodden

Undoubtedly, many of you are aware of changes that have taken place over the past few months at the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Ms. Claire Mysko, NEDA’s former CEO and Ms. Chevese Turner, NEDA’s former Chief Policy and Strategy Officer are no longer associated with NEDA. Subsequent to their departure, I had the pleasure of speaking with NEDA’s interim CEO, Elizabeth Thompson.

In my role as an attorney, I represent a number of people … people who have been angered, people who have been hurt, people who believe they have been misled by certain conduct and actions of NEDA. I brought this information to the attention of Geoff Craddock, the Chairman of NEDA’s Board of Directors. Which merited communications with and attention of NEDA’s attorneys.

The purpose of the communications was not just to inform NEDA of its officers’ and employees’ conduct and actions, but to attempt an expeditious and confidential resolution of all claims. To bring closure for my people and to set the groundwork for hopefully, a brighter future. Resolution that in the long run, could have resulted in a stronger, more open and viable organization.

And yet, time and time again, our good faith proposals were rejected and still we practiced forbearance hoping we could find resolution. But, the initial hope we had to avoid protracted and public litigation began to flicker and dim. And then, was finally extinguished.

I strongly believe that wrongs were committed and people were hurt by these wrongs. And we must ask ourselves, who are we if we enable conduct that hurts people? Who are we if we do not stand up to those who hurt others, especially if those people who have been hurt are some of the most vulnerable in our community? Isn’t it incumbent upon those of us who can provide help, to provide that help and protect them? And if we do not, don’t we become complicit in the hurtful conduct by turning a blind eye as we stand on the sidelines, our eyes cast downward?

I cannot abide that. As such, along with co-counsel, we have instituted a class action lawsuit against NEDA and its former officers in federal court here in North Texas.

This lawsuit will undoubtedly be a long, laborious process. Because of the very nature of our legal system, it will be adversarial all the more so because NEDA will be represented by attorneys employed by its insurance carrier. But, when communications break down, when accountability for past allegedly harmful conduct is not demanded, when an entity continues on with a “business as usual” attitude in the face of its past, highly questionable conduct, then surely we must stand tall and hold ourselves to be counted.

In closing, I am reminded of the Commencement speech given by Admiral William H. McRaven to the 2014 graduating class at the University of Texas:

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when times are the toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.

And what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.

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