Anne Heche Seeks Control of Sunscreen Firm

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Anne Heche sued and is being sued by business partners in a struggle for control of a sunscreen business.
     In one lawsuit, Kathleen Tracy and Nicole Tracy-Arranaga claim the actress and her husband, actor James Tupper, breached fiduciary duty to the Tickle Time children’s sunscreen business, and tried to usurp control of it. Tickle Time Ltd. is also named as a defendant.
     In her own lawsuit, filed the same day, Heche claims the Tracys sabotaged the business to “make way” for their own competing adult sunscreen, co-defendant La Bella Donna Ltd.
     The Tracys claim in their lawsuit that Heche and Tupper have “no prior business experience, let alone twenty years in the mineral skincare market.”
     For that reason, they say, Heche agreed in 2011 to let the Tracys run Tickle Time, promising to use her celebrity to market the premium mineral kids sunblock.
     “Things did not go as planned,” the Tracys say in their 13-page complaint.
     They claim that Heche hired a public relations firm on the company’s dime to promote her NBC television show “Save Me,” and mentioned Tickle Time during those promotions.
     The Tracys claim that for six months of the company’s one-year existence Heche had “absolutely no involvement whatsoever in Tickle Time,” and was away filming “Save Me.”
     They also claim that Heche never showed up to three public appearances to promote the product.
     The Tracys claim that Heche and Tupper tried to force them to expand Tickle Time to include adult sunscreens, though those products directly compete with La Bella Donna.
     “When Tracy and Tracy-Arranaga refused to allow defendants Heche and Tupper to sabotage Tickle Time and LBD [La Bella Donna], defendants Heche and Tupper went on the attack. They made false and outrageous accusations against Tracy and Tracy-Arranaga simply to try to bully and to unfairly and wrongfully gain control of Tickle Time,” the complaint states.
     Heche and Tupper see things differently.
     In their 19-page complaint, they claim the Tracys converted funds for their own use, overbilled for the raw materials to make the sunscreen, and refused to maintain an ample supply of minerals to meet demand for the product, which took off after Heche’s marketing efforts.
     “Plaintiffs were subsequently shocked to discover that the LBD website was (and continues to) promoting [sic] men’s and women’s mineral-based sunscreen, which is extremely similar or identical to Tickle Time and exactly the product that the parties had envisioned that the company would produce,” the complaint states.
     Heche claims the Tracys were “actively developing” the idea for an adult line of La Bella Donna sunscreen while the parties were discussing a similar product for Tickle Time.
     Heche seeks restitution, punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and prospective economic advantage, and wants the defendants ordered to sell back to her their 50 percent interest in Tickle Time.
     Heche and Tupper are represented by David Erikson.
     The Tracys seek punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty.
     They are represented by Michael Taitelman with Freedman + Taitelman.

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