Hop to the Courtroom

A hoppy beer

Tensions are brewing between a minor shareholder and a pair of majority owners of a Charlton, Massachusetts-based brewery.  Viewed as one of the most well-known and best tasting craft beer producers, Tree House Brewing Co. is ranked among the top breweries around the world.  Since 2011, owners Nathan P. Lanier and Damien L. Goudreau claim to have worked endlessly on nights, weekends, and holidays to grow the craft brewery to what it is today.  Despite their efforts, the last remaining minor shareholder, Eric Granger, is accusing Lanier and Goudreau of rewarding themselves excessively.

On December 21, Lanier and Goudreau filed their response to the lawsuit, and while they admit to earning $4 million between 2017 and 2020, they have denied additional allegations addressed by Granger.  They reject the claim that they created two LLCs for real estate purposes and excluded other investors in the process.  Instead, Lanier and Goudreau assert that the organization of the subsidiaries was disclosed to shareholders, and they created the two companies to help limit business liability.  The pair of majority shareholders also defend their actions of purchasing two Teslas, a Range Rover, a Mercedes, and an Audi for business use.

Granger alleges that these vehicles were obtained for personal use and continues to fight his claim that Lanier and Goudreau afford themselves unwarranted or unjustified salaries.  Within his argument, Granger also concludes that the outside business dealings, the creation of the two LLCs, and acquisition of real estate were performed in secret to push him out as the only remaining shareholder.  The majority shareholders admit to approaching Granger about buying him out twice.  About ten years ago and with $10,000, Granger entered as an investor but never worked as a Tree House Brewing employee.  According to Lanier and Goudreau’s response, Granger received more than $850,000 in distributions and will receive $5,000 in quarterly dividends.