Bean Lumber: Money Woes Fault of Family

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 26, 2009 12:00 am  

A flurry of lawsuits involving Curt Bean Lumber Co. of Glenwood, once one of the largest independently owned Southern pine manufacturers in the country, has revealed a bitter family fight.

In June, the company was pushed to the brink of filing for bankruptcy protection.

Bean Lumber blames the company's financial problems on Curt Bean's daughter and son-in-law, accusing them of orchestrating elaborate schemes that cost the company possibly millions of dollars in profits and sales.

"That's all false," Scott Thomason, who is married to Curt Bean's daughter, Corey, said last week. "We denied all that."

Thomason said the economic slowdown that started in 2006 and has caused a number of Arkansas sawmills to shut down was behind Bean Lumber's money troubles.

A 2008 collection lawsuit by an Oregon timber company against Bean Lumber was the first in what is now a cascade of claims and counterclaims that include allegations of theft and check-kiting.

On Nov. 2, Bean Lumber is scheduled to go to court in U.S District Court in Hot Springs over allegations involving the Thomasons. The roots of that case date back to April 2008, when North Pacific Group of Multnomah County, Ore., sued Bean Lumber seeking $749,000 for more than 90 shipments of wood products it delivered to the company between June and August 2007.

Bean Lumber, however, filed a counterclaim in December unveiling the allegations against the Thomasons, adding that North Pacific was a participant in part of the alleged scheme.

Although Bean Lumber tried to sue the Thomasons as part of that lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dawson ruled in May that those allegations weren't in his jurisdiction and dismissed them from the case. The allegations have resurfaced in a Pike County Circuit Court lawsuit that was filed Sept. 14 against the Thomasons and their company, Mid-Ark Lumber Inc. of Glenwood.  

As part of that lawsuit, Scott Thomason said Bean Lumber owes his company $351,000 for wood shipments made in 2007. Mid-Ark has filed a counterclaim against Bean Lumber to collect that money.

Curt Bean referred questions to Grady Bean, who is Curt Bean's cousin and has an ownership interest in the lumber company, or to Curt Bean's son, Tim Bean, who is president of Bean Lumber.

Grady Bean referred calls to the company's attorney, Charles Coleman of Little Rock, who was unavailable last week.



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