(CN) – Wisconsin jerky king Jack Link must pay one of his sons $5 million in punitive damages resulting from a legal dispute over the family business, the state Supreme Court ruled.
After ousting son Jay from Link Snacks in 2005, Jack and his other son, Troy, sued Jay to take his shares in the company.
Jay counterclaimed that his father and brother had breached fiduciary duties by squeezing him out the business to buy his shares at a discounted price.
The trial court ruled that both sides had breached their fiduciary duties and that Jay must give up his shares. The court awarded Jay $5 million in punitive damages but reduced the award to $736,000 after it was persuaded by Jack’s postverdict motion for remittitur.
Both sides appealed, and the court of appeals reinstated punitive damages, ruling that Jack had missed the July 29, 2008, deadline to file his motion. “On July 29, 2008, Jay filed his postverdict motions with the Washburn County Clerk of Circuit Court at 4:32 pm, two minutes after the close of usual business hours,” according to court documents. “Despite the fact that the filing occurred two minutes after the close of usual business hours, the clerk of circuit court accepted and stamped the postverdict motions as being filed on July 29, 2008.”
Jack appealed the reinstatement to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which agreed that the trial court should not have considered Jack’s postverdict motion.
The justices also affirmed rejection of Jay’s oppression claim but said Jay could present evidence on remand as to whether he should have been allowed to present more evidence at trial in support of his theory of damages for the breach of fiduciary duty claims.
Jack Link started his business in Minong, Wisc., in the mid-1980s, and his sons bought into the company in 1995. The website for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky says their recipe for sausages and smoked meats dates back generations and “became legendary among the lumberjacks and pioneer farmers of Wisconsin’s great North Woods.”