ATLANTA (CN) - The co-founder of the Glock firearms company cannot hide behind a stay of foreign litigation filed by his ex-wife to avoid facing unrelated claims in a lawsuit she'd filed against him here, a federal judge ruled.
There's no question the legal battles Gaston Glock Sr. finds himself embroiled in these days with ex-wife Helga Glock are complex and multi-faceted.
At their base, however, they all revolve around Helga Glock's claims that her former husband and his cohorts colluded to intentionally depress the value of her assets and cheat her out of about $500 million through "a multiple-decade, virtually worldwide, continuing racketeering," according to a complaint she filed in the Atlanta Federal Court on Oct. 9 2014.
Last week, Gaston Glock asked the court to stay his ex-wife's U.S. case based on International Abstention, contending that critical issued in the case overlapped with litigation growing out of their 2011 divorce in Austria.
But on review, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. found enough obvious distinctions between the cases to deny Glock's request.
"[I]n this lawsuit, the Plaintiff's claims stem only from the alleged injuries inflicted upon the Parent Company," Thrash wrote in Dec. 14 ruling. "This case is not about the Plaintiff's divorce from Glock Sr. It is not about her transfer of Parent Company shares to the Glock Foundation. Nor is it about the Parent Company's attempt to force a buyout of the Plaintiff's remaining 1% interest in the Parent Company.
"Consequently, the Court's analysis begins, and ends, with the first international abstention factor: judicial efficiency," the judge said. "Here, this action and the Austrian lawsuits cited by the Defendants no longer involve 'substantially the same issues.'"
According to Thrash, the foreign cases largely concern assets and alimony that the Plaintiff may be entitled to as a consequence of her divorce; the Plaintiff's transfer of Parent Company shares to the Glock Foundation; and specific business resolutions passed by the Parent Company's General Assembly.
"Based on the Defendants' evidentiary submissions, none of the cases speak to the transactions at issue in the Amended Complaint: the Parent Company's transfer of 50% of its Glock, Inc. ownership interest to another entity, and the allegedly fraudulent Glock, Inc. business transactions," the judge said.
"Thus, the Defendants have failed to establish that the domestic and foreign lawsuits involve substantially the same issues, and so abstention is inappropriate," he said.
That certain allegations are found in both lawsuits, Thrash said, does not mean that the issues in both are the same.
"In the Austrian lawsuit, the Plaintiff is seeking an accounting of Glock Sr.'s assets for the purpose of calculating the division of assets," he explained. "Thus, the Plaintiff is seeking to establish the existence of certain unreported assets within Glock Sr.'s possession. This case, by contrast, concerns the origin of those assets and the lawfulness of the means by which Glock Sr. came into possession of them.
"Consequently, despite the presence of certain common allegations, the two cases are not sufficiently related," Thrash wrote "Accordingly, the Plaintiff's lawsuit here is sufficiently distinct from her Austrian lawsuits so as to avoid any international comity concerns. Indeed, resolution of the Austrian litigation will not resolve most of the material issues in this litigation. Thus, the stay should be lifted."
Helga Glock's attorney, John Da Grosa Smith, told Courthouse News that "Mrs. Glock is grateful that the court will consider her case."
Representatives of her ex-husband did not respond to an email from Courthouse News requesting comment.