With great power comes… a lot of lawsuits, but it looks like comic book legend Stan Lee has settled at least one that has been going on for the last year. The suit was brought on by Ron Sandman and Valerie Barth, two former shareholders of Arturion who alleged that Lee robbed them of the company they formerly controlled when POW! Entertainment and Arturion merged.
Back in 2001, Lee formed POW! Entertainment after leaving his former company Stan Lee Media (SLMI). Then in 2004, Barth and Sandman helped Lee’s company become a publically traded one by helping in the execution of a reverse merger with Arturion Entertainment, a company were they were both powerful shareholders. The reverse merger allowed POW! Entertainment to go public without having to go through the lengthy process of registering. Afterwards, Barth and Sandman began claiming that Lee had “robbed” them of Arturion. (Ironically, it was Barth who supposedly helped Lee get his Walk of Fame star.)
Then late last year, POW! sued both Barth and Sandman for breach of contract and fraud alleging they owed more than $1.15 million from a subscription agreement where they had acquired 3 million shares of stock. The suit stated that the two’s true intention was to obtain POW! stock without having to pay for them and as a result, engage in stock manipulation.
The two countersued alleging that at the time of the 2004 merger, Lee and other top executives at POW! participated in a conspiracy to inflate the worth of the company’s assets at the time of the merger and violated dozens of security laws. The suit also stated that Lee misrepresented his hold over the intellectual property that is part of the basis of litigation between Lee and SLMI, downplayed the litigation that was occurring at the time with him and SLMI, induced shareholders into making investments just to retain shares in the company, breached a reorganization agreement by not attaining minimum funding, and had put out misleading public statement about POW!. They were seeking the removal of POW’s board of directors, the transfer of shares, and at least $3.6 million in compensatory damages along with some further relief.
The feud looked as though it was getting nasty but word has it that the two sides have now settled putting an end to the legal disputes. Nothing is known about the terms of the agreement as there is a confidentiality clause associated with the settlement.
While this lawsuit is coming to a close, Lee still has to contend with the lawsuit with his former company, SLMI, who is alleging the comic book artist did not validly terminate his contract with them and illegally diverted intellectual property which includes the rights to several of his superhero characters such as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four.
SLMI had submitted a request to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to direct a district court to hear its claims against Lee. Now that the appeals process has finished, both parties are now waiting to hear the judge’s decision. A legal conference to determine how to move forward on the case is scheduled for next month.
We’ll keep you updated on the legal aspects of this case as it ensues.