Case News

Western Milling ESOP Case Moves Forward

On December 13, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion for summary judgment and denied in part a motion to dismiss by Defendants Kruse-Western, Inc., Kevin Kruse, and GreatBanc Trust Company in Zavala v. Kruse-Western, Inc., et al., No. 1:19-cv-00239-DAD-SKO. The case arises from the sale of Kruse-Western stock to the ESOP for $244 million in 2015. Plaintiff alleges that the sale price failed to adequately account for liabilities associated with contamination of animal feed produced by Western Milling, and that as a result the ESOP’s participants were harmed by paying a vastly inflated price for the stock. Judge Drozd held that Plaintiff stated claims for breach of fiduciary duty and a prohibited transaction under ERISA, and he rejected Defendants’ argument that Mr. Zavala released his claims in a severance agreement.

Coverage of the case is available here.  For more information, please contact Nina Wasow or Dan Feinberg.