• February 22, 2013

Update (February 22, 2013): This week, the Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected the petition for further review of this case of come-uppance in a bitter brotherly brouhaha.

Original Post (December 17, 2012):  The first murder among humans was fratricide.  Often, of course, brothers get along nicely, fortunately.  Some even manage to build businesses together successfully.  On the other hand, by definition, civil litigators spend their time on the dysfunctional side of the economico-familial ledger where the enmity between brothers seems to be a sad fact in far too many family businesses.

These can be some of the most difficult, complex, bitter, and hard fought cases.  To put it bluntly, sometimes brothers can behave like ugly and nasty children.  And sometimes some of them get metaphorically spanked.

This seems to have been the case in Dan McGrath’s bitter feud with Br’er Brent McGrath and their Mankato-based business, MICO, Inc.  Father, Mac McGrath passed away in 2004 and it took very little time for fraternal antagonism to blossom into full-blown hatred and an obviously toxic environment at this successful global supplier of brakes, valves, controls and related products.

The result of a hard-fought jury trial and bench trial (on separate issues) seems to have resulted in sweet revenge for Plaintiff Dan McGrath whose lawyers (Leonard Street lawyers led by Mankato-based partner, Douglas Peterson) appear to have elicited strong evidence of mean-spirited and hostile behavior by Brother Brent (as when he wrote to his buddy, Gabriel, that he would “like to shove my foot up Dan’s ass, [but] my upbringing, ethics and morality prevent me from doing so”).   That’s sharp wit, eh?

On July 18, 2011, following the third phase of the trial, the district court issued an order requiring MICO to purchase Dan’s shares for $11,503,000. Judgment was entered the same day. On October 4, 2011, the district court ordered judgment and judgment was entered on Dan’s requests for attorney fees, costs, and disbursements. The district court ordered the entry of two attorney-fee judgments: the first for fees incurred during phases one and two of the trial, in the amount of $2,515,508.25 and against MICO, Brent and Larry; and the second for fees incurred during phase three, in the amount of $320,000, against MICO only. The district court ordered the entry of judgments for fees and disbursements, $203,904.89 for phases one and two, and $125,817.50 for the third, against MICO, Brent, Larry, and Gabriel.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in all respects in favor of Plaintiff Dan McGrath.  Who’s laughing now?

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