Ladue Man Who Pursued Unlikely Job Discrimination Suit Calls it Quits

In our July 7th feature, "Byte Me," software architect Chris Elbring claimed that his former business partner and major investor, Jim Kalishman, set out to "ruin" him when their small start-up company SecureAxis went south.

And indeed, Kalishman filed two separate lawsuits against Elbring in 2009. His attorneys also put Elbring's deposition into the hands of federal prosecutors, who got Elbring getting indicted by a grand jury for felony wire fraud. (Elbring  ended up pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax violations.)

Yet one week after our story, and one week before his scheduled deposition, Kalishman backed off in a major way: On July 12, Kalishman voluntarily dismissed one of his lawsuits against Elbring.

In that suit, Kalishman had argued that he was "fired" from SecureAxis for his Jewish ethnicity -- this, from a company in which he was also co-owner and major investor.

The snapshot version of that case: When their company ran out of money, the two founders began quarreling. CEO Elbring fired a bunch of employees and told co-founder Kalishman, who'd also been doing marketing for the firm, to stay out of the office.

Months later, Kalishman discovered several e-mails in which his partner had referred to him with Russian racial slurs that translate to phrases such as "fucking Jew." So Kalishman filed suit, alleging he was "fired," at least in part, for racist reasons, in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act.

According to Kevin Dolley, a local attorney who specializes in employment law, such a claim isn't totally outlandish because the statute contains loose definitions in order to encompass a wide range of circumstances.

"The Missouri Human Rights Act was drafted in very, very, very broad language," Dolley says.

Still, Kalishman finally dismissed his claim permanently last week. In the dismissal, his attorneys pointedly explain that "Elbring has no money, no job and no income."

Elbing's attorney, Michael Quinlan, has a different take on the dismissal. He suggests that Kalishman may be "desperately trying to avoid being deposed." The deposition had been scheduled for Tuesday.

"In my opinion," Quinlan continues, "Jim Kalishman and [his attorney] Gary Smith don't want to go on record to substantiate their claims because they know they're bogus and it's going to be humiliating for them."

In response to messages seeking comment, Smith forwarded the RFT a copy of the dismissal.

Elbring's own lawsuit against Kalishman and his legal counsel, alleging defamation and abuse of the judicial process, is still pending in St. Louis County circuit court.
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