Last month, a jury in Arapahoe County ruled in favor of the family of Denver oil tycoon Jack Grynberg in a fight over the control of the companies he started.
The jury resolved a dispute over whether Grynberg, himself, still had control over the companies after placing them in the names of his family members and later claiming he was revoking that control. The jury removed the companies from Grynberg’s control, but there’s still one final legal issue that will be decided by a judge in an upcoming bench trial.
The background of the case involves a three-year-long legal fight over a family dispute. And with the family turmoil also comes high ten- sions and emotional trouble. Glen Summers, a partner at Bartlit Beck, was cautious about commenting on the case because of the personal element for the clients. Despite the emotions though, the case was a major defense verdict that could have cost the defendants $281 million.
Jack Grynberg had started Pricaspian Development in the early 1990s and built a fortune off of mineral interests in Kazakhstan. He made his wife and three children the named owners of the companies — Gadeco and RSM in addition to Pricaspian — and according to court documents, by about 2014, his behavior became erratic. In 2016, Grynberg was removed as president of the companies. According to a motion for summary judgment, Grynberg “pressed to construct an argument to avoid these irrefutable facts and law,” claimed that he handed over control to his family as part of a verbal contract that would allow him to control the companies for life. Grynberg claimed that arrangement was honored for more than 20 years and the family members’ efforts to remove him have “effectively crippled Pricaspian at a time when major developments in global oil and gas markets require deployment of Pricaspian’s substantial capital investments.
The case has since gone to the Colorado Supreme Court twice on issues regarding the admissibility of evidence about Grynberg’s mental health. Most recently, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on the issue of whether Grynberg impliedly waived his patient privilege by placing his mental condition at issue in his defense in the case.
Following the court’s decision, the case proceeded to a trial in early February where Grynberg sought to revoke his family’s control.
The court ruled on summary judgment that the family owns the company and that Grynberg couldn’t revoke their shares.