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Japs-Olson Family in Court Over Ownership

October 2003
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MINNEAPOLIS—Japs-Olson retired company Chairman and President William Beddor is currently seeking to remove the company's existing management, which is led, in part, by his son Michael. In addition Beddor's other children are also suing the company, demanding full payment for their collective 31 percent stake in the largely direct mail printing operation.

In a pair of lawsuits filed in Hennepin District Court, the siblings claim they've been squeezed out of the company decision-making process by Michael Beddor and current Chairman Robert Murphy.

Attorney Timothy Kelly, representing Michael Beddor and Murphy, did not return calls for comment.

The suing parties are Sandy and John Beddor, Mary Meuwissen and Cathy Robin. Each owns 7.75 percent of Japs-Olson. The Beddors as a group, including Michael and four other siblings who work at the company, own 69.79 percent. Murphy and his family own the other 30.21 percent.

The siblings' attorney, Vincent Louwagie, could not be reached at presstime for comment.

William and Beatrice Beddor initially gave nine of their children 3,326 shares each in 1992 and sold the children their remaining shares in 1995 for $1.2 million each, with the sale secured by individual promissory notes.

At the time, there were 10 members on the board—seven representing the interests of the Beddors and three representing the Murphys. The company declared dividends each year that were enough for each sibling to make the required annual payments on the stock they purchased from their parents.

But the dividends reportedly stopped in 1997, and the children were unable to make their payments on the promissory notes, according to the lawsuit. Rather than declare their children in default, the older Beddors sought assurances that their vision for the company would be carried out in a consensus manner.

However, at the company's annual meeting in February 2002, the number of directors was dropped from 10 to three, removing William and Sandy Beddor, Mary Meuwissen and Cathy Robin from the board. William and Beatrice Beddor are alleging breach of contract and want the children to return the voting rights from their stock to the parents.

The attorney for William and Beatrice Beddor also did not return calls for comment.
 

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