Judge: Nieces of Leprino Foods Founder Can’t Break Company Up

Nov. 10, 2022
Minority shareholders say they’re being treated unfairly.

Leprino Foods won’t be broken up to satisfy minority shareholders, but their claims of inequitable treatment can go forward, a Colorado judge has ruled.

Leprino, a cheese company that holds the overwhelming share of the U.S. mozzarella market, is being sued by two nieces of James Leprino, the company’s 84-year-old founder and CEO. The nieces’ late father, James’s brother, owned about 25% of the privately held company, leaving it to his three daughters, two of whom are the plaintiffs.

The nieces claim that they have been shut out of Leprino Foods’ decision-making processes, resulting in inequitable distribution of financial rewards. Their lawsuit had asked for Leprino Foods to be dissolved and its assets to be distributed among all shareholders.

A Colorado state judge rejected that request this week, but ruled that the plaintiff’s claims of fiduciary misconduct can move forward.

About the Author

Pan Demetrakakes | Senior Editor

Pan has written about the food and beverage industry for more than 25 years. His areas of coverage have included formulations, processing, packaging, marketing and retailing. Pan worked for Food Processing Magazine for six years in the 1990s, where he was operations editor (his current role), touring dozens of food plants of every description. He has also worked for Packaging and Food & Beverage Packaging magazines, the latter as chief editor, during which he won three ASBPE awards. He is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in communications.

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