IBJNews

Trump wins court battle with Menard over skin-care products deal

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A federal judge in Indianapolis ruled Tuesday that former model Melania Trump had a valid contract to market skin-care products for Indianapolis-based New Sunshine LLC, despite claims from hardware store magnate John Menard that the agreement should be voided.

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled that Trump, the wife of billionaire Donald Trump, can proceed with an arbitration hearing in New York, where she is seeking $50 million in damages from New Sunshine and another Menard-controlled company, Merchant Capital LLC.

Trump has sued the two companies for failing to live up to their five-year agreement signed in 2012 that would let her company, Melania Marks Skincare LLC, develop and market a product line called Melania.

Menard had sued to cancel the contract, based on a dispute with Indianapolis businessman and former friend Stephen Hilbert.

"The license agreement is a valid and enforceable contract," Magnus-Stinson wrote in her decision. "Merchant Capital and New Sunshine have not sustained their burden of showing any circumstances justify declaring the license agreement void."

Hilbert was CEO of a private equity firm founded in 2005 that was funded by Menard. Its holdings included New Sunshine.

Menard’s lawsuit alleged that he sent a letter to Hilbert in June 2012 removing him as CEO, but that Hilbert refused to leave and continued to make unauthorized business decisions for New Sunshine. Big moves by New Sunshine during that period included the licensing deal with Trump.

In February, Menard won a court battle with Hilbert that allowed him to regain control of New Sunshine. Soon thereafter, New Sunshine sent a letter to Trump canceling a promotional deal for the launch of her skin-care products. Trump filed a lawsuit with an arbitrator, claiming New Sunshine’s actions had resulted in $50 million in damages.

Menard alleged that Hilbert did not have the authority to cut a deal with Trump. However, Magnus-Stinson found that New Sunshine's president at the time, Eric Weber, did have the authority to do so, and thus the contract was valid.

Weber received approval from New Sunshine's board to sign such agreements "on New Sunshine’s behalf and to bind New Sunshine to its terms," Magnus-Stinson wrote.

"The efforts to remove Mr. Hilbert from his positions at companies 'upstream' from New Sunshine have no effect on the license agreement’s validity. There was no fraud, corporate waste, or any other wrongdoing attributable to Melania Marks that would warrant undoing the deal that the parties’ reached," Magnus-Stinson concluded.


 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Aaron is my fav!

  2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

  4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

  5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...

ADVERTISEMENT