– CROOKE DEPARTS HOT TOPIC: Michael Crooke, who was appointed president of the Hot Topic division of Hot Topic Inc. on June 2, has left the company. Hot Topic did not provide a reason for Crooke’s departure and did not return a call for comment on Wednesday. Company chief executive officer Betsy McLaughlin has taken over Crooke’s responsibilities. Before joining the City of Industry, Calif.-based retailer, Crooke served as president and ceo of Patagonia Inc. and its parent company, Lost Arrow Corp.
– WAL-MART DISABILITY BIAS CASE: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York upheld a $7.5 million jury verdict against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which was accused of discriminating against Patrick Brady, who has cerebral palsy. A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the company was reviewing the decision. “We believe in respecting the dignity of every individual and do not tolerate any form of discrimination,” she said. On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge in Minnesota ordered Wal-Mart to pay $6.5 million to compensate workers for missed breaks and off-the-clock work. Civil penalties for that case could run as high as $2 billion and will be decided at a jury trial in October.
– NEW DUCKWALL CEO: Lawrence Zigerelli, former chief executive officer of Levitz Furniture, has joined Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc., the Midwestern general merchandise chain, as president and ceo. Donny Johnson, the chief financial officer who served as interim ceo since Bruce Dale’s departure in February, has resumed his role as cfo and added the title of executive vice president. A longtime Procter & Gamble executive, Zigerelli joined CVS Corp. as executive vice president of corporate development in 1999 before moving to Meijir Inc. as senior vice president of marketing and merchandising in 2002. He was promoted to president three years later and joined Levitz in January 2007.