In 2008, Tony Marohn visited a local estate sale where he paid a "nominal amount" for an antique oil stock certificate. And now, Marohn's family is suing soda giant Coca-Cola, saying the certificate entitles them to 1.8 million shares of the company's stock, worth an estimated $130 million.
Marohn passed away in 2010, but not before tracing the history of the stock certificate from Palmer Union Oil Co. to Coca-Cola. Reuters reports that Marohn made the connection through a series of now-defunct companies, including Petrocarbon Chemicals Inc. and Taylor Wine Co.
Coca-Cola countersued Marohn in 2009, telling Delaware's Chancery Court that he was not entitled to its company stock.
"The claim of Mr. Marohn's estate that it is entitled to millions of dollars in Coca-Cola stock—based on a canceled stock certificate for a long-defunct oil company purchased at an estate sale—is meritless and unfair to the Company's millions of legitimate shareholders," Coca-Cola said in a statement released Thursday.
But if you disagree and think the Marohn's have a case, you can actually still purchase stock shares of the long-since defunct company. A certificate for 100 shares of Palmer Union Oil stock is currently selling for just $25.
The Marohn family attorney, David Margules, is citing examples of past legal precedent, arguing that the stock transfer is legitimate.
"This is a new version of the Beverly Hillbillies," Judge Leo Strine said at a court hearing on January 31, according to a court transcript. If Marohn's estate wins its case, it would become one of the largest noninstitutional investors in Coca-Cola, according to Reuters.
The certificate for 1,625 shares of Palmer Union Oil Co. was endorsed and assigned, but a space designating the transferee was left blank. Marohn simply wrote his name in the blank space and began his legal case.
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