Bittersweet Litigation – When Families Battle Charitable Giving in Court

Fall 2017

The Robins Kaplan Spotlight

This past June, a Minnesota district judge awarded the heiress to the successful Lunds & Byerlys grocery chain a $45.2 million buy-out for her share in the family company. See Lund v. Lund, No. 27-cv-14-20058 (J. Bernhardson) (District Court, 4th Judicial District, Hennepin County, Minn.) (June 2, 2017). The court’s ruling ended a lengthy, ugly battle among four siblings, all of whom owned an equal share in the company. Interestingly, this case was not a typical family fight over inheritance. Instead, charitable giving was at the heart of the dispute. Throughout the litigation, Kim Lund expressly stated she wanted the money to use for philanthropic purposes. With her inheritance tied up in the business, she would be unable to achieve the philanthropic goals—to the extent she sought to do so—in her lifetime. Her brother, CEO Tres Lund, originally offered $21.3 million, arguing that Kim’s requested buy-out of approximately $80 million would significantly harm, if not bankrupt, the business. In essence, the argument at trial boiled down to whether to keep more food on the table, or give it away.

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