WHEELING – A man is suing Tri-State Petroleum Corp. after he claims his siblings wrongfully attempted to force him out of the family business.
EJC Legacy Inc., Interstate Service Stations Holdings Inc., Convenience Realty LP, Colleen C. McGlinn, Edward J. Coyne II, Erin C. Merrick and Sheila C. Romanek were also named as defendants in the suit.
"This action arises out of the unlawful attempt of [the] defendants to force their brother ... out of the thriving family business that he was instrumental in building, and to compel him to accept only a fraction of the value of his interest in that business," according to a complaint filed July 11 in Ohio Circuit Court.
Kevin P. Coyne claims as a result of the defendants' various breaches of contract and breaches of fiduciary duty, the plaintiff has been forced to bring this action to remedy the attempt by his siblings to "create a windfall for themselves and to deprive plaintiff of what he fairly and rightfully deserves under the governing agreements and the law."
The defendant companies are the family business and were founded in 1974 by Edward J. Coyne Sr. and his wife, Elizabeth Jane Coyne. The owners of the companies now are Kevin Coyne and his siblings, the individual defendants, according to the suit.
Kevin Coyne claims he commenced working fulltime for his father and the family business in 1986.
On July 14, 2012, Kevin Coyne was wrongfully terminated from his employment with the family business, according to the suit.
Kevin Coyne claims prior to being terminated, he was employed as the executive vice president of marketing development and real estate development for the companies.
Upon information and belief, the defendants' decision to terminate Kevin Coyne's employment was not the product of an informed, independent business judgment, but rather a device to silence his voice as an employee and shareholder/partner of the family business and thereafter to effectuate the redemption of his interest at a discounted value that falls far short of fair market value, according to the suit.
Kevin Coyne claims on June 15, 2013, by way of letter from counsel for the defendants, he was informed that the defendants valued his total interest as stockholder and limited partner in the family business as $2.1 million, an inaccurate and grossly low valuation of his interest, which, if unchanged, would result in a large and unjust windfall to his siblings directly correlating to the amount of the undervaluation of the plaintiff's interest.
The sibling defendants denied and refused to provide Kevin Coyne with access to material information relating to the operation of the defendant companies and the manner and method by which the sibling defendants and their commissioned consultants determined the "fair market value" of his shares, according to the suit.
Kevin Coyne claims the defendants breached their contract and breached their fiduciary duty.
Kevin Coyne is seeking compensatory damages.
He is being represented by W. Howard Klatt of Klatt Law Offices; and David B. Fawcett, Jayme L. Butcher and Christopher R. Brennan of Reed Smith LLP.
Ohio Circuit Court case number: 14-C-200