Several prominent Utahns and Utah companies are being sued as part of a massive bankruptcy case filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in central California.
The court-appointed trustee for Comark, a California Limited Partnership, has filed 400 lawsuits in an effort to collect more than $20 million on behalf of Comark's creditors.Several of the defendants in the suits are some of Utah's best known doctors, lawyers and businessmen. The list also includes several Wasatch Front businesses.
"I don't think there's anybody left in Utah that's not on that list," joked Comark Trustee Sam Jonas.
The company was formed to buy and sell securities, Jonas said.
A spokesman for one Utah defendant said the company was recommended to several Utah investors as both an investment and a tax shelter back in the 1970s when tax shelters were popular.
Jim Brown, a Salt Lake attorney representing most of the Utah defendants, said he will vigorously fight the suits.
Comark is in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning all of the company's assets are being liquidated to pay off creditors.
Defendants also include some of California's major business people too, Jonas said.
The defendants fall into two general classes: those who received money from Comark shortly before bankruptcy was filed or those who made a written promise to give additional sums to Comark should the company run into financial trouble, Jonas said.
Brown said all of his clients fall into the latter category. However, Brown believes the conditions under which his clients agreed to give Comark more money have not been met.
"The partnership agreement says in specific language that Comark can make a call for additional capital contribution based on the purchase of specific money market instruments. (My clients) are not purchasing specific money market instruments, so the call is invalid," Brown said.
The money being sought from the Utah partners runs into the millions of dollars, he said. "I haven't added the amount up."
Comark filed bankruptcy in 1982. However, the California court issued a stay order for the limited partner defendants, prohibiting the trustee from suing them until they had time to settle with him.
The stay has been lifted against the 58 limited partners who have not voluntarily settled with Jonas, and now Jonas is suing them for the money he believes they owe Comark.
Notice of the suits was made public Friday.
The notice caught at least one Utah company by surprise. Cottonwood Mall Corporation aka Cottonwood Mall Shopping Center and Cottonwood Mall Partnership are listed as defendants.
However, representatives of the mall say they know nothing about the suit.
"We are quite sure that we have been incorrectly named," said Jeff Price, director of enclosed malls for Price Development Corp. Price owns Cottonwood Mall.
"We don't even know who Comark is." Price speculated that the investment involved the mall's previous owners. "Naturally, our lawyers will be looking into the matter, but we're sure we not involved in it at all."
Those who are involved intend to fight back.
"We will contest the matter vigorously on many grounds," Brown said. He expects to win. It is possible none of his clients will have to give any more money to Comark, he said.
However, it will be a long time before anyone knows that.
"This could go on for at least a couple more years."
Jonas is equally confident of winning. But with 400 separate lawsuits, he couldn't generalize on how much the defendants might lose. Much of that depends on when the investor invested, he said.
Those listed in legal notices of the suit published Friday are:
Adonis Partnership; Bell Mountain Corp.; John Blanchard; Bountiful Development Co.; Banberry Development Co.; Banberry Development Corp.; Ester Brasher; J. Frank Brasher Investors Group; Jay L. Brasher; Jay L. Brasher as General Joint Representative of the Estate of J. Frank Brasher; David B. Castleton; Grant W. Castleton; Richard L. Castleton; Cottonwood Mall Corp. aka Cottonwood Mall Shopping Center; Cottonwood Mall Partners; E.R. Dumke Jr.; Blair G. Felton; Frank Felton; Robert Felton; First Security Bank of Utah as personal representative of the Estate of Lincoln White; Robert Flinner, M.D.; Shari Foulger; Jeffrey B. Gliedman, M.D.; Elizabeth H. Hammond, M.D.; Brent H. Hansen; Brent H. Hansen & Associates; J. Keith Hansen; J. Keith Hansen & Associates; Howard H. Haynes Jr., M.D.; Joseph Henriod as Trustee of A.W.F. Trust; Harry G. Hicks, M.D.; S.M. Horman; Charles H. Hor-man; S.M. Horman & Sons Co.; Howard H. Haynes & Associates; Ken Huber; Loraine L. Ivers; J & W Investments; Leo A. Jardine; Conrad B. Jenson, M.D.; Reid L. Jones; Warrent King; Morris A. Kjar; Edwin L. Madsen; Edwin L. Madsen Jr.; Michael B. Madsen, M.D.; Bruce J. McDermott; Fred Miya, M.D.; Robert C. Nelson; Russell M. Nelson, M.D.; Hans Nievaard; Nolan C. Oswald; Penguin Investment Inc.; Alvin I. Smith; John M. Van Stavern; Richard L. Warner; Gregory White; White-Smith Venture; Whitewater Development Corp.; H.W. Breinholt; Reed W. Brinton; Dick Geisler; Richard W. Hemming; Charles Knorr; Arch Milczarek; Jack Okland; James G. Okland; John R. Okland; W. Scott Ostrom; R.P. Rasmussen; Keith Romney Jr.; J.E. Treadway; Fred K. Weidner; Aline White aka Aline Ruiz; Janice Fairbanks; Jamie Fairbanks; Lincoln F. White; L. Frank White; Jean-ette Quinn; John A. Dixon; Victor L. Fowler; Gregory P. Nelson; Horman Construction Co.; Theodore Horman; Sid Horman Jr.; Gordon Johnson; Horman Brothers; Grant M. Christen-sen; Harold B. Anstall; Richard A. Jackson; Donald McCloskey; Edward G. Hale; Alan R. Payne; Alvin I. Smith, trustee of A.W.F. Trust; S.M. Horman Investors Group #2; Jon M. Huntsman; T.E. & R.E. Ashworth Partnership; J. Earl Hurst; Charles S. Fawcett; Prescott B. Hardy; Charles S. Eubank; Paul W. Nielsen; Ronald D. Nielsen; Hans Nievaard Partnership; and W. Meeks Wirthland.