Transfer of power completed in Mardi Gras float company; Suit over ownership continues

Alejandro de los Rios Apr. 27, 2011, 9:00am

The Times-Picayune reported that a scheduled meeting to transfer power of Blain Kern Artists (BKA), the company that owns Mardi Gras World, from father to son has been completed, even though a lawsuit disputing ownership is still pending.

Barry Kern took over BKA from his father, Blaine Kern Sr., after a shareholders meeting held at Mardi Gras World on April 25, after which they announced that everything "went as planned."

Blaine Kern was ordered by Orleans Parish Judge Kern Reese to abide by an agreement made within the company for Kern to relinquish ownership of the company.

That agreement came shortly after Barry Kern sued to take control of BKA from his father because Blaine Kern had allegedly "aggrandized his own financial situation to the detriment of...shareholders."

The suit claims Blaine Kern, 83, has acted under the influence of his fourth wife, Holly Brown, who is nearly 50 years younger than him.

Since Kern began dating Holly Brown, his "personal expenditures on houses, cars, travel and entertainment, and thus his debt, skyrocketed," the suit alleges.

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.

The lawsuit made headlines across southeast Louisiana and, and just two days later, 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 alleges 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 alleges. 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 claims "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 says.

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.

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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