HOUSTON (CN) - In the mother of all mother-in-law lawsuits, a woman claims that after her husband was murdered, his mother hijacked their business, took $1 million from it and "turned a cold shoulder to her widowed daughter-in-law and grandchildren."
Lesli Rowell sued her mother-in-law Charlotte Rowell and DASH Texas Distributing in Harris County Court. Charlotte Rowell's daughter Samantha Rowell is also a defendant.
Lesli Rowell says she and her husband Ashley and his mother started DASH Texas Distributing in May 2012.
"DASH soon would become a profitable company, distributing certain wine and beer products from wholesalers to retailers located in the State of Texas," the complaint states. "DASH's largest customer is a grocery store chain. Receivables for DASH soon arrived in the hundreds of thousands of dollars while its payables were far less, providing large profits for the company in a short amount of time."
But just as the company began taking off, tragedy struck, Lesli says.
"On February 1, 2013, [Anthony] Rowell was shot and killed by an assailant in his own home," the complaint states. "The suspect remains at large at the time of this filing."
Lesli says her mother-in-law initially seemed sympathetic.
"Shortly after Rowell's funeral, Charlotte approached plaintiff and told plaintiff to allow herself to grieve and not to worry about the business; in lieu of such conversation, plaintiff provided Charlotte all of DASH's business accounts," the complaint states.
"Then, two weeks after her son's death, Charlotte unilaterally and without informing plaintiff, went to the Bank of River Oaks with Samantha Rowell (hereinafter 'Samantha'), who is Charlotte's daughter, and closed DASH's bank account and removed all funds from the bank account, believed to be in excess of $1,000,000.
"Thereafter, on or about February 28, 2013, Charlotte, in similar fashion, unilaterally and without notice to plaintiff, executed a Certificate of Termination of DASH."
Lesli claims that Charlotte "has unlawfully transferred and taken the distribution business previously done by DASH to another entity controlled by Charlotte."
And, Lesli says, Charlotte replaced her as the company's registered agent with her daughter Samantha.
"Thereafter, Samantha has apparently been involved in the management of DASH's affairs, including attempting to terminate the health insurance coverage provided to plaintiff and her children ..." the complaint states.
"In sum, after the death of Rowell, Charlotte, has effectively removed plaintiff from all aspects of DASH, including ownership, management and her rights afforded to her, transferred funds from DASH's bank account in excess of $1,000,000.00 to an unknown bank account, unilaterally terminated the existence of DASH, stolen the business dealings of DASH, challenged funds deposited into her now deceased's sons bank account, and turned a cold shoulder to her widowed daughter-in-law and grandchildren."
Lesli says she is still 50 percent owner of DASH.
She wants a receiver appointed to take over DASH, and oversee its dissolution.
She also wants damages for breach of contract, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference and conspiracy; and an injunction to stop the defendants from cancelling her and her kids' health insurance, and diverting DASH's business to another entity.
She is represented by Christopher Tritico with Tritico Rainey.
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