SAN DIEGO — Planet Polymer Technologies Inc. is engaged in a legal skirmish with a former director.
Planet, formed in 1991 to develop biodegradable polymer materials, had accumulated a deficit of more than $9.8 million at the end of 1998. The company, the vision of Robert Petcavich, chairman, chief executive officer and president, has needed funding to stay afloat. From 1992-97, Planet employed consultant Brian To to raise those funds by engineering deals with other companies and pursuing equity investors.
To resigned as a director in April 1997, but he retains a major block of Planet stock. He has accused Planet and Petcavich of various misdeeds and trying to buy his silence with shares in A-Life Medical Inc., a new San Diego company that automates medical-records coding.
Planet sued To in San Diego County Superior Court in November, alleging fraud, unlawful appropriation of property, and negligence. On March 12, Judge Robert J. O'Neill stopped the litigation and granted To's petition to compel arbitration.
San Francisco lawyer Gerald V. Niesar, representing To, asked Planet shareholders at their April 12 annual meeting in San Diego to investigate Petcavich's working simultaneously for Planet and A-Life, in what To claims is a violation of a Planet employment agreement. Shareholders refused the request.
Petcavich declined comment and referred questions to his lawyer.
Planet reported a loss of $1.63 million on 1998 sales of $1.62 million. The firm is cultivating an ownership, licensing and funding arrangement with Agway Inc., a Syracuse, N.Y.-based agricultural cooperative.
Planet's stock began trading on the Nasdaq Small Cap Market in 1995. It employs eight in San Diego.
A subsidiary Planet acquired in 1996, Deltco of Wisconsin Inc. in Ashland, Wis., generated all of Planet's 1998 sales. Deltco employs 25 and manufactures and reprocesses thermoplastic scrap resins, sourced mainly from 3M Co.