IBJNews

Widow of Holiday World's president gains park control

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A judge has awarded control of southern Indiana's Holiday World & Splashin' Safari to the widow of the theme park's late president, resolving a two-year legal fight.

Vanderburgh County circuit Judge Carl Heldt ruled that Lori Koch is majority owner of the holding company that operates the popular Santa Claus theme park. Her husband, Holiday World president Will Koch, died unexpectedly in June 2010 at age 48.

In the wake of the court's ruling, Lori Koch fired her brother-in-law, Dan Koch, who had served as Holiday World president following his brother's death.

Dan Koch is appealing the judge's ruling over control of the theme park, which Evansville Industrialist Louis J. Koch opened in 1946 under the name Santa Claus Land. Since that time, the Koch family has owned and operated the theme park, which has undergone numerous expansions.

The Evansville Courier & Press reported that Lori Koch named Matt Eckert, the park's former general manager, as its new president and CEO this week. Lori Koch will serve as the park's vice president.

A statement released Thursday by park spokeswoman Paula Werne said that following Will Koch's death "questions involving the interpretation of the company's Shareholders' Agreement arose" and the Koch family turned to the court system to resolve those issues.

"Regardless of the outcome, the park will continue to be owned and operated by members of the Koch family," Werne's statement said.

She confirmed that the $6.5 million in park improvements and additions announced last year will be completed as planned.

Court records show that Lori Koch sued Dan Koch and Koch Development Co. in January 2011, claiming her husband's 49,611.6 shares of the company were worth more than $32 million.

But Dan Koch and Koch Development Co. valued the shares at $26.8 million. The Evansville Courier & Press reports that the value of the shares was to be determined by a formula based on the park's value and earnings.

Will and Dan Koch and their sister Natalie Koch each owned equal shares of Koch Development Co. An agreement they signed in 2002, stated that upon the death of any of the siblings, the company would purchase that person's shares.

Natalie Koch sold her shares to her brothers shortly before Will Koch's death.

Lori Koch and Will Koch's estate had argued that the per-share price should be $653.07, based on shareholder meetings in 2008 and 2009 and a share transaction between Will and Dan Koch in 2009.

Dan Koch and the holding company had argued the price should be $541.93 per share.

In his ruling, Heldt agreed with Lori Koch and the estate, saying Dan Koch and the holding company improperly used the stock value from Dec. 31, 2009, rather than the purchase date. His ruling permanently excuses Lori Koch and the estate from any obligation to transfer the stock back to the holding company or Dan Koch.

Dan Koch and the company immediately appealed the ruling. His attorney, Kevin Patmore of Santa Claus, said Friday that he had no comment.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Sad
    It is sad that such a well run and respected organization has this in-fighting. It can't bode well for the continued success when the leaders are distracted by their own interests.

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. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

ADVERTISEMENT