Louisiana court denies request to transfer suit against coffee products firm CEO to Hawaii

By John Sammon | Jun 14, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently turned back a request for a change of venue regarding a lawsuit alleging that the CEO of a coffee products firm abused his position to profit a new company he had started.

The court, in its May 29 ruling, decided Louisiana was the proper venue for the case in which Orpheum Property Inc. of New Orleans, a commercial development company that operates retail and wholesale businesses, is suing Alfred E. Coscina and his company, AF Coffee, alleging mismanagement and fraud.

The court denied the motion for reconsideration and venue transfer made by Coscina and his business, AF Coffee, a Honolulu-based maker of coffee from Hawaii and coffee-related products.

In January 2011, Coscina formed Coscina Brothers, a coffee products company in Honolulu, according to the court filing. In March 2011, Coscina Brothers was purchased by Rampant Leon Financial Corp. of Louisiana and then by Orpheum Property Inc. Alfred Coscina agreed to continue working as the president and CEO of Coscina Brothers.

Plaintiff Orpheum alleged that in June 2011, Alfred Coscina formed AF Coffee to import and export coffee products but did not inform the plaintiff of this action. In addition the complaint stated that Alfred Coscina used AF Coffee to buy raw coffee beans that he then sold to Coscina Brothers at a higher price than the company had paid previously.

The suit further alleges that Coscina used Coscina Brothers funds to benefit AF Coffee and began sending invoices in November 2015 from AF Coffee to customers of Coscina Brothers for products sold by Coscina Brothers.

“The plaintiff represents that these customers were unaware that the companies – AF Coffee and Coscina Brothers – were separate and unrelated, and sent their payments to AF Coffee instead of Coscina Brothers,” the court brief read.

The defendant filed a motion for lack of jurisdiction and improper venue on March 28. The motion was denied. The defendant then asked for a reconsideration of the decision and for a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals review on the issue of jurisdiction in the case.

A request to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii was rejected in that both Coscina Brothers and Orpheum were Louisiana companies and that the alleged harm done to the plaintiff by the defendant primarily occurred in Louisiana.

“The court found that venue in the Eastern District of Louisiana is proper,” the brief read.

The motion by the defendant for reconsideration of the court's March 28 denial of venue change and request for an appeals court review were denied.

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