The parties involved in the lawsuit over ownership of 7 Brew Coffee Co. of Fayetteville, the quickly expanding coffee shop chain, are seeking to resolve their differences through mediation, a filing late last month indicates.
As you may remember, 7 Brew found itself in a legal dispute with Jimmy John Liautaud, the billionaire founder of the Jimmy John’s sandwich operation.
The legal wrangling began with a lawsuit filed Jan. 13 in Benton County Circuit Court by Stillwater Brew LLC, a Delaware company of which Liautaud is a principal. Stillwater sued Drink House Holdings LLC, the parent company of 7 Brew Coffee, and Bar 7 Bar LLC, the manager of 7 Brew. Both Drink House and Bar 7 Bar are based in Wyoming.
Stillwater’s complaint said that it’s a member of Drink House Holdings and that Bar 7 Bar had failed to respond to multiple requests by Stillwater to review the company’s books. “As an owner of the Company, Stillwater has the explicit right (as does any other owner Member) to review the Company’s books and records,” the suit said.
In late March, the conflict escalated with Drink House and Bar 7 Bar’s response to the lawsuit. They claimed that not only had Stillwater been given the opportunity to review the company’s books, but that Stillwater has no ownership interest in the company.
Drink House and B7B said that the ownership agreement cited by Stillwater isn’t a valid contract “because there was no meeting of the minds as to the performance required by Stillwater in the Agreement.” And even if a court determines that it was a valid contract, “Defendants were fraudulently induced into making the contract.”
Drink House and B7B went on to file a counterclaim against Stillwater in which they allege that Liautaud failed to live up to promises that he would help the company develop its franchise program.
But on May 23, the parties filed a joint motion seeking to extend a deadline for pleadings and postpone a pretrial status hearing. “The Parties have agreed to attempt to resolve this dispute through mediation,” the motion said. “Because those efforts require additional time, the Parties respectfully request an extension of the existing deadlines in this case as the Parties explore the potential for a mutually agreeable resolution of their claims.”
On May 24, the court filed an order agreeing to the request and said a pretrial status hearing would be scheduled for no earlier than July 14.
When last Whispers reported on this whole brouhaha back in April, the number of 7 Brew locations listed on its website stood at 69. It now lists 90 locations, primarily in the South and Midwest.