Mardi Gras floatmaker will appeal judges ruling forcing him to transfer company ownership to son

Alejandro de los Rios Apr. 22, 2011, 3:36am


The attorney for the embattled owner of the world-famous Mardi Gras World said that his client will appeal an Orleans Parish Civil District Court judge's ruling that he must transfer control of the company to his son.

New Orleans attorney William Wessel told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that his client, Blaine Kern Sr., would appeal Judge Kern Reese's ruling made April 15.

Reese ruled that Blaine Kern Sr. must transfer management control of Blaine Kern Artists Inc. (BKA) over to his son, Barry Kern, by April 26.

Reese's ruling said that BKA, which provides floats and props for the majority of the city's Mardi Gras krewes, is "way bigger" than the heated emotions between father and son.

Blaine Kern Sr. founded the company more than 50 years ago and provides floats for the majority of Mardi Gras krewes that ride during New Orleans' carnival season.

Barry Kern filed a suit against his father Oct. 1, 2010, to evict him "from any directorial or officer position" and to appoint "a receiver to manage and/or dissolve" Blaine Kern Artists (BKA).

That lawsuit made headlines across southeast Louisiana and, and just two days later, the Times-Picayune reported that an intermediary had stepped in for Blaine and Barry Kern and resolved their differences.

Six months later, Barry Kern sued his father again, claiming Blaine Kern Sr. "failed and refused to consummate the agreement." A violation of the October agreement requires the violating party to pay $100,000 to the other party, according to the suit.

The suit alleged that Blaine Kern Sr. had agreed in part to sell his shares of the company to Barry Kern, "including payment of debts of Blaine Kern, Sr., lease of facilities owned by Blaine Kern Sr., and a lifetime consulting contract with Blain Kern Sr."

Blaine Kern Sr. improperly acted as a manager of BKA, the suit alleged. Kern allegedly fired his other son, Brian Kern, asked for BKA to pay his personal expenses and demanded the cashier at Mardi Gras World to give him money from the cash register.

The suit claimed "Blaine Kern Sr. has no right to exercise any managerial control over BKA."

The agreements between Barry and Blaine Kern were arranged by Owen "Pip" Bennan, the captain of the Mardi Gras krewe Bacchus, the suit said.

The meetings resulted in a seven-point letter of intent and a four-point agreement, which essentially transferred control of BKA from father to son.

Soon after the agreement was announced, a recorded offer of settlement was filed in Orleans Parish on Oct. 5, according to court documents. The case remains active under Judge Michael Bagneris.

The original suit stated Barry Kern is seeking control of BKA because his father, 83, has acted under the influence of his fourth wife, Holly Brown, who is nearly 50 years younger than him.

The October suit alleged that Blaine Kern's spending has made BKA "technically insolvent" and that the company has bounced payroll checks to employees. It also claims that Blaine Kern named Brown as co-captain and treasurer of Blaine Kern's Krewe of Halloween in the Boo Carre, which has failed to make timely payments on equipment and materials provided by BKA.

The suit also makes the claim that Blaine Kern improperly fired Barry Kern, who was named president of BKA in 1995 after successfully running similar companies in Europe, Las Vegas and Orlando. Barry Kern has since resigned as president even though the suit claims Blaine Kern had no authority to fire his son.

Brown is not mentioned in the most recent suit filed by Barry Kern.

New Orleans attorneys Randall Smith, Stephen Gele and Melissa Desormeaux are representing Kern.

Orleans Parish Cases 2010-10092 and 2011-03812

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