Yetter Coleman LLP, along with McKool Smith, P.C., has secured a $30 million jury verdict on behalf of Twinwood Cattle Company, Inc. (“Twinwood”) against the American Akaushi Association (“AAA”), HeartBrand Holdings, Inc. (“HeartBrand”) and the Chairman of the Board of both companies, Ronald Beeman.
The verdict was announced on July 16, 2021, following a four-week trial before Honorable Robert Rolnick in Fort Bend County, Texas. The jury unanimously found in favor of Twinwood’s claims for breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference, conspiracy, and alter ego. The jury also found AAA had fraudulently concealed its breaches and tortious conduct for several years. The verdict provides for more than $21 million in damages for breach of contract, an additional $1.3 million for fraud, $3.3 million in exemplary damages, and Twinwood’s attorneys’ fees. The jury also found HeartBrand was the alter ego of AAA and responsible for AAA’s conduct.
The suit, filed in 2018, centered on the obligations and duties of the AAA, a cattle breed association for a rare breed of Japanese cattle known as Akaushi or Red Wagyu. Twinwood alleged that AAA advertises to members that they will receive a DNA verified pedigree on registered animals and certificates of registration verifying their animals’ lineages, which are critical to the value of Wagyu and other elite breeds of cattle. Twinwood was a member of the AAA from 2009 to 2017 and registered hundreds of animals with the association. However, when Twinwood asked the AAA to provide proof of DNA verified pedigrees on its animals in 2016, AAA refused, claiming it did not provide such information “as a matter of policy.” After repeated denials to requests for the same information, Twinwood left the AAA and filed suit. Twinwood alleges that only after it left the AAA did it learn that AAA had failed to DNA verify the lineages of more than half of Twinwood’s initial registered animals.
Along with Justin P. Tschoepe of Yetter Coleman LLP, the trial team included McKool Smith Principal William Wood, associates Veronica Manning and Kaitlyn Dawson, and Bill Boyce of Alexander Dubose Jefferson LLP.
The case is Twinwood Cattle Company, Inc. v. American Akaushi Association, Inc., HeartBrand Holdings, Inc., and Ronald Beeman, No.18-DCV-250789.