A Coke stock shakedown may be worth $130 million, according to Tony Marohn's family, who demands that they be paid for an old stock certificate found in 2008.
Although the certificate was not for Coke stock, but for Palmer Union Oil Company, the family of the late Marohn patriarch insists that their claim is legitimate. Tony Marohn found the 1917 certifcate at an estate sale, and since Palmer Union merged with another company that then merged with Coke, he felt entitled to 1.8 million shares, worth $130.5 million today.
Coca-Cola, after discovering the dubious claims, sued Marohn the next year. Although his California-based family has tried to continue the legal battle in his name, Coca-Cola said it's a futile effort, as the claims are "factually and legally meritless."
"The claim of Mr. Marohn's estate that it is entitled to millions in Coca-Cola stock- based on a cancelled stock certificate for a long-defunct oil company he purchased at an estate sale- is factually and legally meritless, not to mention completely unfair to the Company's millions of legitimate shareholders," said the 120-year-old company in a statement.
The case, presided over by Judge Leo Strine Jr. in Delware, may not have legs to stand on. Strine seemed skeptical of the family's claims in a January hearing, and told them so, according to Daily Mail.
"This is a new version of the Beverly Hillbillies," Strine told the court, referring to the 1960s comedy about backwoods folk who find oil on their property, becoming instantly rich. He also has the power to legitimize the case or throw it out- something Coca-Cola says is the obvious solution.
"The court in Delaware has already expressed strong skepticism about the Marohn estate's claim, and we are confident that we will prevail in the case," said The Coca-Cola Company.
The legal case name is In Re Shares of Common Stock of the Coca-Cola Company, Delaware Chancery Court, No. 5156.