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Legal Blues Continue for Blue Canoe CrewLock Icon

3 min read

Your Whispers staff has an update on the legal wrangling that resulted from last year’s meltdown of Blue Canoe Brewing, the Little Rock craft brewer that was one of the pioneers in central Arkansas’ craft beer scene and that closed March 16, 2019.

You may recall that Dr. Iden Cowan had sued her Blue Canoe co-founders, ex-husband Patrick Cowan and Laura Berryhill, almost two years ago in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Also named in the suit were Ben Davis Properties Management of Little Rock and two people the suit described as its members or agents, Ben Davis and Ronny Davis.

Iden Cowan, filing on behalf of herself and Blue Canoe Holdings LLC, had alleged that Patrick Cowan, Berryhill and Ben Davis Properties Management formed a competing business entity, LBPC Holdings LLC and that Patrick Cowan and Berryhill, behind her back, then began operating and expanding the brewery, at 1637 E. 15th St., under LBPC, using money, property, equipment, customers, vendors and locations belonging to Blue Canoe Holdings.

But back in August, all the parties in the suit — plaintiffs and defendants — agreed to mediate their issues using a licensed mediator.

And on Dec. 11, Iden Cowan and Blue Canoe Holdings moved to dismiss their lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it can’t be refiled. Judge Wendell Griffen dismissed the lawsuit one day later.

That, however, is not the end of the legal woes involving Patrick Cowan, of Little Rock, and Berryhill, of Bauxite. Berryhill, who described herself as a co-owner of Blue Canoe Holdings and LBPC Holdings, in August filed a cross-claim against Patrick Cowan alleging breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.

Berryhill’s claim says that LBPC Holdings “was created for the purpose of continuing the brewing operations of Blue Canoe, as Ms. Cowan completely removed herself from Blue Canoe and its dissolution was inevitable.”

In addition, Berryhill said, “Attorney Cowan advised Cross-Plaintiff [Berryhill] that since Ms. Cowan was a silent partner and not participating in the daily operations of the brewery, Attorney Cowan and Cross-Plaintiff could act as they saw fit to continue running Blue Canoe.”

Berryhill’s claim said she relied on the legal advice of Patrick Cowan, a lawyer now with Kirkendall Dwyer LLP, and that he “misrepresented the validity and lawfulness of the Agreement that transferred BCH’s assets to LBPC by repeatedly telling Cross-Plaintiff that the Agreement was lawful and valid.”

Berryhill also alleged that Patrick Cowan continued to rent the warehouse location at 1637 E. 15th “despite the lack of beer inventory and notice from Separate Defendant Davis to vacate the property” and that Patrick Cowan “repeatedly used the business bank account for personal use to pay his utilities, groceries and personal business expenses.”

Berryhill, who’s a partner in the bar Lucky Lou’s at 424 E. Third St., the former location of the Blue Canoe taproom, asked for actual and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

In his response, filed in September, Patrick Cowan denied Berryhill’s allegations and asked for attorneys’ fees and costs.

A trial date has not been set.

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