The developer of the Marina District and five of his business partners are being accused by two former partners of embezzlement, fraud and using company funds for personal projects like the Marina District, according to a lawsuit filed in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
John Eymann, the vice president and treasurer of his Columbus-based architectural firm, Meachem & Apel, says the lawsuit is without merit.
The two men suing Eymann and his partners are Thomas McCash and Larry Caldwell, who left the company in December 2006 and April 2007. They also claim Eymann and his partners took excessive bonuses and violated state law by not disclosing their company’s financial documents to fellow shareholders.
In the portions of the lawsuit the Register obtained, McCash and Caldwell said the men used company funds for their own private use, including personal business ventures.
To view the lawsuit, click HERE.
“The board, controlling shareholders and trustees were in a position of fiduciary trust and owed fiduciary duties to the minority shareholders,” the lawsuit says. It defines the board and controlling shareholders as Eymann and his five partners. “The board, controlling shareholders and trustees wrongfully diverted funds and other benefits to themselves and away from minority shareholders, including increased compensation, bonuses, increased profit-sharing distributions and other acts of self-dealing.”
The Register is working to obtain the rest of the lawsuit.
According to both parties, the suit began in 2007, when McCash thought the company was undervaluing his shares. Eymann and his business partners filed a lawsuit against McCash, asking the court to force McCash to accept the settlement agreement.
McCash, a lawyer and architect, fired back with his own lawsuit. The Franklin County court system has since combined the two suits into one case. Eymann said the claims are “frivolous, baseless and claimless.”
“They simply want more money out of the company,” Eymann said.
In the lawsuit, McCash and Caldwell say they were repeatedly denied the opportunity to look at Meachem & Apel’s financial books, which is against state law according to the suit. Because of that, they say they couldn’t track where Eymann and his business partners were spending money.
McCash said Friday he believes much of the money wasn’t line itemized, and was used for improper purposes like the Marina District.
A trial is scheduled to begin in November, according to the Franklin County Clerk of Courts Web site.
McCash and Caldwell also filed a contempt motion against Eymann in July, which states Eymann signed a document earlier this year saying he had no business interests outside of Meachem & Apel. The document was part of the case’s discovery phase.
McCash and Caldwell, however, learned about the Marina District developer’s agreement, signed in December 2008. In the contempt motion, they say Eymann and his lawyer knowingly lied and should face sanctions.
“Eymann willfully and knowingly, with the intent to deceive defendant McCash and his counsel, failed to disclose certain business interests,” the contempt motion states.
The judge has not yet ruled on the motion.
“I’m very sorry about all of this,” Eymann said. “It’s been a very painful and frustrating process.”
Eymann said he’s poured $1 million into the community and feels like he’s been unfairly and repeatedly attacked.