A slow news cycle finally ended this week with a local story. The Griffins are a large Northern Kentucky family which owned a rendering business (think road kill and restaurant grease) that was sold for $840 million in 2010. The business was operated along traditional gender roles with the males running the business and the women not participating.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a $584 verdict against two of the Griffin brothers in favor of three of their sisters. The verdict stemmed from the brothers’ handling of their parents’ estates two and three decades ago. The sisters became aware that something might have been amiss with the way the estates were handled when a piece of real estate they should have inherited was transferred to the family company for $1 in 2010 to facilitate the sale of the company. A federal court’s award of $178 million to each daughter was the subject of the appeal.
Four points and one disclaimer:
1. In the interest of full disclosure, half of my life ago I worked for the firm which represented the Griffin sons although I have no knowledge of the family or the matter.
2. I remain surprised that some of the claims by the sisters are not barred by the statute of limitations because the parents died 20 and 30 years ago respectively and their estates were probated then.
3. Good estate planning documents and/or a buy sell agreement which provided that the family business was to be transferred to the sons would have prevented most of this dispute.
4. The Supreme Court only hears cases involving questions of law or where courts differ on legal interpretation of an issue. Neither seems to apply here so this case is likely over.