Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Family Feud at John Blaine Trucking Company, Inc

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Family Feud at John Blaine Trucking Company, Inc

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

The primary subject matter of this case concerns family business estate and succession planning for a small oilfield trucking company. Secondary issues examined include sibling rivalry, conflict management, and the integration of family counseling theory into family business counseling. This case is appropriate for senior and first year graduate students. It is designed to be taught in three class hours and is expected to require three hours of outside preparation by students.

CASE SYNOPSIS

Carolyn Blaine is the recently widowed owner of John Blaine Trucking Company, LLC. She and her deceased husband, Trevor, have five children and two grandchildren between the two of them. The company was founded in 1961 by Trevor's parents and is currently being managed by the third generation son-in-law. Sibling rivalry has been a significant issue since the two married (a second marriage for both of them). The case opens with Carolyn expressing both anger and heartbreak caused by Trevor's death. In a dream sequence Carolyn shows how Trevor's failure to adequately address estate and succession planning, even though he knew he had cancer and was not going to recover, has left her a nightmare situation to deal with. Trevor's mother, one of the original founders of the company, is suing his widow (Carolyn) for an undocumented debt. Carolyn's daughter, Diana, is trying to take control of her and the company and block the other siblings from sharing in any of the financial aspects of the company. More attorneys and accountants have been hired to help straighten out the mess. As the case ends, one of the grandchildren has been seeing a professional counselor and other family members are also seeking these services. Diana has separated from her husband Brad, who is managing the company, and is trying to get Carolyn to remove him from the company. The two grandchildren are also experiencing problems and Diana is relying heavily on Carolyn for help with Nora. Carolyn is overwhelmed with the business and personal issues she is facing and is contemplating taking the family dog and running away.

ANGER AND HEARTBREAK

Carolyn Blaine sat looking at her recently deceased husband's picture and sighed. Since his memorial service a week ago, the conflict between family members had escalated. Carolyn was exhausted from her husband's ten year battle with cancer and felt overwhelmed by the new challenge of family conflict regarding the family business, John Blaine Trucking, Inc.

"Oh Trevor, I am really mad at you right now! I miss you but you have really left a mess for me to handle. It is bad enough you are gone, but I am not equipped to handle all of the money grubbing power plays going on at the business," she said to his picture. Carolyn had attended four meetings with her attorney and accountant in the week since Trevor's death. Although Trevor had consulted with both when writing his will, Carolyn refused to believe that he understood what a mess he had left his personal and business affairs. Her step-children were already planning to file a lawsuit to make her move out of her house since it had become part of the estate associated with the business. And, to make matters worse, his mom had consulted an attorney and was planning on suing the company for a loan she had made to the business twenty years ago.

As Carolyn lay down to take a nap, numbness crept over her as she replayed Trevor's memorial service in her head. The way that Trevor's children had acted at the service was heartbreaking to her. Trevor's children by his first wife (Tiffany, Mary, and Steve) had totally ignored her daughter (Diana). Trevor's mother, Shelia, had refused to sit with the family during the service. When Diana showed the power point presentation that she had prepared in memory of her dad, Carolyn was horrified to see that it only contained memories and pictures of Diana and her immediate family members. …

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