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Think Like a Man Too may have scored well as the number one movie at the box office, but the film’s producers are attracting a different kind of attention.
Documents obtained by EURweb.com show a lawsuit filed Friday against Rainforest Films by Bronner Brothers president and CEO Bernard Bronner. The Atlanta-based businessman, whose family founded the hair products line, is suing Will Packer (pictured) along with Robert Hardy, II and TRF Productions, LLC for inter alia, breaches of fiduciary duty, gross mismanagement, misappropriation of corporate assets, waste of corporate assets and abuse of control.
Bronner, who invested more than $500,000 to start Rainforest with Packer and Hardy as well as raised more than $250,000 for the company, claims to have received “only a fraction of the initial amount that he invested in Rainforest (and the amounts solely raised from his personal business and social contacts)” despite the fact that Hardy and Packer have made “millions of dollars” from the success of the company.
The trio’s business relationship dates back to the year 2000 independent film Trois. Bronner invested more than $500,000 in the film in exchange for a return on his investment and “a profit” based on Trois’ performance at the box office. Trois ultimately became the film that put Rainforest on the map as it grossed more than $1,200,000.00 in box office receipts and became the fastest African-American distributed film to surpass the $1 million mark.
The movie’s success paved the way for other successful Rainforest films such as The Gospel ($15,700,000.00 in box office sales), Stomp the Yard ($75, 500,000.00 ), This Christmas (roughly $50,000,000.00) Obsessed ($73,800,000.00), Takers ($69,000,000.00), Think Like a Man ($96,000,000.00 worldwide), Ride Along (nearly $150,000,000.00) and About Last Night ($50,000,000.00 in gross receipts as of April 25, 2014).
Despite the success, Bronner claims there was inner turmoil at Rainforest. According to the suit, the Bronner Bros. Hair Care owner and other Trois investors were not fully compensated for their investment, despite the film’s success.
The suit further states that Bronner was systematically shut out of Rainforest by Hardy and Packer, who Bronner claims assumed control of everyday operations and limited information he received as well as his decision-making authority. Salary increases for Hardy and Packer that were made without Bronner’s knowledge were also noted in the suit as well as unsuccessful attempts by Bronner to obtain financial information for Rainforest.
As for his payment, the suit stated that Bronner didn’t receive any payments for 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009. When asked about the financial status of Rainforest, Hardy and Packer repeatedly told Bronner that the company, despite its success, was making “little to no profit.”
The suit mentioned that despite receiving compensation in 2011, Bronner has yet to recoup his initial capital investment in Rainforest. In addition, Bronner claims that funds from the company were obtained by Packer for personal use and that he did not authorize or approve efforts by Packer and Hardy to dissolve Rainforest in May.
Bronner alleges in the suit that Hardy and Packer’s conduct was “oppressive” and “unfairly prejudicial” to him and Rainforest shareholders. In addition, the executive claims Hardy and Packer committed fraud in withholding financial information as well as “violated and breached their fiduciary duties of good faith, loyalty, oversight, and supervision.”
Other allegations cited in the suit include lack of candor, gross mismanagement, waste of corporate assets, unjust enrichment, abuse of control and misappropriation of corporate assets.
Bronner, who is demanding a trial by jury, is seeking judgement against Hardy and Packer for the allegations as well as an award of punitive damages, among other things.
EUR reached out to Packer’s spokesperson for a comment, but as of this posting there has been no response.