CHARLESTON – The family of a late Kanawha County man is suing his wife over ownership of their business.
Michael A. Lormand, executor of the estate of Charles P. Winkler Jr., deceased, filed a lawsuit Sept. 29 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Kimberly W. Winkler and Premiere Liquor Warehouse, citing breach of fiduciary duty.
According to the complaint, Charles P. Winkler Jr., who was acting as manager of The Liquor Company at Patrick Street Plaza, died April 7, 2010, while divorce proceedings were pending between him and his wife, Kimberly Winkler.
The complaint states that although they were still legally married, Charles Winkler Jr. executed a will Feb. 24, 2010, in which he left all of his probate assets to a trust for his children's benefit, with his father serving as trustee and his brother-in-law, Lormand, named executor.
According to the complaint, Kimberly Winkler assumed control of the company without actually being appointed manager and, after contentious litigation between her and the estate, on Aug. 23, 2011, a settlement agreement was reached which established that the estate owned 60 percent of the defendant company and Kimberly Winkler owned 40 percent.
The plaintiff says that in the nearly four years that Kimberly Winkler had sole control of the company, she expended assets for personal use and refused to allow the estate access to the books and records, making it impossible for the estate to file taxes. According to the lawsuit, the 2011 settlement agreement gave Kimberly Winkler the option to purchase the 60 percent of the company that belongs to the estate after each party has a valuation done on the company, but she has not yet exercised that option.
The complaint states the estate did hire a certified valuation analyst in order to make Kimberley Winkler's purchase of the 60 percent ownership possible, but Winkler's control of the company and records, and her failure to have the company valued has made any such valuation impossible.
The plaintiff seeks judgment that it holds the 60 percent ownership necessary to appoint a new manager of the company. Kimberly Winkler is accused of wrongful conversion of assets of the company, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of fiduciary duty as member, officer or acting manager of the company.
The plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages including 60 percent of the value of the company, profits of the company since Charles Winkler Jr.'s death, and amounts wrongfully taken from the company. The plaintiff also seeks reimbursement for lost interests and litigation costs.
The plaintiff is represented by attorneys Gordon C. Lane of Lane & Young in Charleston, and Charles R. Bailey of Bailey & Wyant in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer F. Bailey.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 14-C-1774