Holdings firm accuses Benefit Trust of contract breach

By Annie Hunt | Feb 15, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania holdings business is suing a Kansas financial firm, alleging the defendant cost the plaintiff more than $2 million after a contract breach.

Dansko Holdings Inc. of West Grove filed a lawsuit Jan. 27 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Benefit Trust Company of Overland Park, Kansas, alleging breach of contract, breach of oral contract, and promissory estoppel.

According to the complaint, in June 2014, Benefit Trust agreed to serve as the trustee for Dansko’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). From June 2014 through December 2014, the suit says, Benefit Trust’s senior vice president and managing director participated in meetings, during which the plaintiff was led to believe the defendant would be acting as ESOP trustee for a refinancing transaction that would impact the value of Dansko stock.

The lawsuit states on Jan. 1, 2015, Dansko was advised for the first time that the defendant would not be acting as ESOP trustee. As a result, the plaintiff alleges that due to this late notice, it was not able to engage and place a successor as trustee until Feb. 20, 2015. Dansko argues that during the time of acquiring a successor, it it had to continue paying higher interest rates and incurring other costs that amounted to more than $2 million in damages.

Dansko seeks damages of more than $75,000, reasonable costs, fees and a trial by jury. It is represented by attorneys John P. Lavelle Jr. and Bahar Shariati of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Philadelphia, and Scott Schutte of the same law firm in Chicago.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Case number 2:16-cv-00324-JD

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