ILNews

Holiday World family takes dispute to Court of Appeals

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An agreement meant to keep a popular amusement park in the family has sparked a bitter dispute that has reached the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Attorneys representing Koch family members presented oral arguments Aug. 6 before the appellate court in Koch Development Corp. and Daniel L. Koch v. Lori A. Koch, as personal representative to the estate of William A. Koch, Jr., deceased, 82A-4-1212-PL-612.

The Koch family owns Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari near Evansville. Will Koch, grandson of the park’s founder Louis J. Koch, was the majority owner in partnership with his brother Dan Koch, an attorney in Florida.

After Will Koch’s sudden death on June 13, 2010, Dan Koch was elected president of the business and took over operations.

Lori Koch, Will’s widow, and Dan Koch are fighting over the share price of the business under terms of a buy-sell agreement the brothers had. Both sides told the court that the purpose of the agreement was to keep Holiday World in the Koch family.

At the end of oral arguments, Judge John Baker said that from his point of view the situation looks as if this is a fractured family and there is probably nothing the courts can do.
   
The buy-sell agreement in place at the time of Will Koch’s death dictated the sale of their respective shares in the family business. In this situation, Koch Development Corp. had to purchase as much of the decedent’s shares as the capital of the company would lawfully permit while the remaining shares were to be purchased by the surviving shareholders.

KDC tendered an offer of $5 million and Dan Koch made a separate offer which brought the total amount to just under $27 million.

Lori Koch rejected both offers, claiming her husband’s shares were worth more than $32.5 million. She pointed to the brothers’ agreement in 2009 that the price per share was $653.07. Dan Koch and KDC countered that the shares were worth $541.93 each.

In January 2011, Lori Koch filed suit.

The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the estate. It found that KDC’s and Dan Koch’s actions materially breached the buy-sell agreement and concluded the estate was permanently excused from the obligation to sell its shares to KDC and Dan Koch.

On appeal, Dan Koch argued the trial court should be reversed. He claims he and KDC did not materially breach the agreement and that the trial court erred in excusing the estate from selling Will Koch’s shares.

During oral arguments, the appeals court judges questioned the attorneys about the specifics of the buy-sell agreement and the intent of that agreement. Jim Johnson, partner at Rudolph Fine Porter & Johnson LLP, represented KDC and Dan Koch. Terry Farmer, managing partner at Bamberger Foreman Oswald & Hahn LLP, represented Lori Koch.

Judge Paul Mathias raised the 180-day time limit included in the agreement and questioned Johnson as to why Dan Koch waited until the 178th day to tender an offer.

Johnson replied his client was practicing law in Florida and Will Koch’s death put him in an unexpected position of running the park.

Mathias countered that Dan Koch is an attorney. Issues do not always come when it is convenient for the attorney, he said. When Dan Koch stepped into the leadership role at Holiday World, he had an obligation to meet in 180 days.

The judges also queried Farmer about the price Lori Koch is arguing each share is worth. Farmer explained that was the price agreed upon by the shareholders on Jan. 1, 2009.

Baker asked, since he had bought a Buick in 1974 for $3,500, was the automaker obligated to sell him another car at the same price?

Farmer explained that every two years the shareholders set the pricing mechanism within the agreement. The price of $653.07 agreed upon in Jan. 2009 would govern.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  2. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  3. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  4. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

  5. Dear Fan, let me help you correct the title to your post. "ACLU is [Left] most of the time" will render it accurate. Just google it if you doubt that I am, err, "right" about this: "By the mid-1930s, Roger Nash Baldwin had carved out a well-established reputation as America’s foremost civil libertarian. He was, at the same time, one of the nation’s leading figures in left-of-center circles. Founder and long time director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Baldwin was a firm Popular Fronter who believed that forces on the left side of the political spectrum should unite to ward off the threat posed by right-wing aggressors and to advance progressive causes. Baldwin’s expansive civil liberties perspective, coupled with his determined belief in the need for sweeping socioeconomic change, sometimes resulted in contradictory and controversial pronouncements. That made him something of a lightning rod for those who painted the ACLU with a red brush." http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/biographies/roger-baldwin-2/ "[George Soros underwrites the ACLU' which It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board." http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1237 "The creation of non-profit law firms ushered in an era of progressive public interest firms modeled after already established like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") to advance progressive causes from the environmental protection to consumer advocacy." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cause_lawyering

ADVERTISEMENT