A three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals has agreed that the former CEO of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions can proceed with a libel case. The case stems from a press conference linked to his controversial departure from Cardinal.

Richard Topping lost his job as Cardinal CEO in November 2017, after a critical state auditor’s report and a subsequent investigation from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Topping left his job with a $1.7 million severance package.

A new Cardinal oversight board hired Kurt Meyers and McGuire Woods in January 2018 to investigate the severance deals for Topping and three other Cardinal executives who had resigned from their posts.

Meyers presented the results of his investigation to the Cardinal board in March 2018. The findings prompted a lawsuit against Topping for recovery of his severance payment. On the same morning that Cardinal filed suit against Topping, Meyer held a press conference discussing details of his report.

That press conference prompted Topping’s libel suit in May 2018 against Meyer and McGuire Woods. A trial court threw out part of Topping’s complaint but allowed the rest of it to proceed. Appellate court judges now agree that the case can move forward.