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Family dispute spills into court, newspaper

By: Don Loepp

January 29, 2013

Family businesses may be the backbone of the American economy -- that's a point I really believe. But emotions like greed and jealousy still can tear them apart.

And, apparently, that's what's happening to the family that formerly owned Indianapolis-based Createc Corp.

The Indianapolis Business Journal posted a story yesterday about a lawsuit involving the Lewis family, which in 1975 founded Createc, a manufacturer of polystyrene and polypropylene foams used to make protective packaging, containers and automotive parts.

Scott Olson's story, "Sale of family-owned business leads to lawsuit," spells out the players in the lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 28. The dispute dates back to the December 2010 sale of Createc to DeKalb, Ill.-based Tegrant Corp.

The key player in the lawsuit appears to be Deborah A. Ecksten, a daughter of company founder Richard Lewis. Ecksten claims her brother and mother "committed fraud and violated state securities laws by declining to inform her about the $61 million sale until after her stock-option rights expired," according to the story.

"As a result, Ecksten's share from the sale of $1.5 million was far less than the $15 million made by her mother and $12 million made by her brother, respectively."

Most family business disputes don't spill into court (and newspaper headlines). But they're common enough.

For advice on how to avoid this trap, check out "Family biz needs succession plan," a Perspective column that Plastics News ran in December from Kevin La Mont, director of advance planning and investments at RB Capital Management LLC in Fresno, Calif.