Photo: Christopher J. Morosoff
Big corporations spend mountains of cash and endless days in litigation for all sorts of things, but Coca-Cola has quite a unique problem on its hands this time.Coke’s latest issue is with the late Tony Marohn’s family. According to court documents, Marohn claimed to have bought an old Palmer Union Oil Co. stock certificate at a garage sale in 2008 and traced it to Coca-Cola (through companies like Petrocarbon Chemicals and Taylor Wine), reports Tom Hals at Reuters.
Marohn began the fight for the shares, but he died in 2010. Now, his family says they’re owed around 1.8 million shares of Coca-Cola.
How’s that possible? The family say in the lawsuit that a person was issued the certificate and it was endorsed and assigned. However, the transferee’s name was left blank, effectively making the certificate a bearer stock. Marohn wrote his name on it, and voila, the 1,625 shares of Palmer Union Oil are worth 1.8 million shares of Coke, they contend.
Coke thinks it’s absolutely absurd. Here’s part of its statement on the matter:
“The claim of Mr. Marohn’s estate that it is entitled to millions of dollars in Coca-Cola stock – based on a canceled stock certificate for a long-defunct oil company purchased at an estate sale – is meritless and unfair to the Company’s millions of legitimate shareholders.”
Either way, now Coke has to go to court to deal with it. The case has been going since 2009.
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