Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ousted Beverage Firm Officers Sue Judge Issues Injunction, Orders Special Meeting

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ousted Beverage Firm Officers Sue Judge Issues Injunction, Orders Special Meeting

Article excerpt

A month after being ousted by a new board of directors, the former top two officers of Universal Beverages Holding Corp. are suing those directors and have obtained an injunction to prevent the board from electing a new chief executive officer.

Duval County Circuit Judge A.C. Soud not only granted an injunction preventing the board from holding a meeting in which it planned to name a new CEO, he also this week ordered the company to hold a special shareholders meeting by April 25 to vote on whether to keep the four directors who forced the two officers out, according to court documents.

"It appears that major changes are being contemplated by an unlawful majority of the board," said the lawsuit filed by former chairman and CEO Jonathan O. Moore and former president Cydelle Mendius against the company and the four directors. They asked for an injunction to stop the planned Feb. 13 board meeting.

According to a response filed by the defendants, the board had intended to elect John Morabito, former executive vice president of Saratoga Beverage Group, as the new CEO at the meeting. But Soud agreed to the request for an injunction.

Universal Beverages, a Jacksonville-based publicly-traded company that produces Syfo brand bottled water and other beverage products, announced last month that the board had removed Moore and that Mendius resigned. According to the lawsuit, Mendius resigned under pressure from the board.

The two were removed after two investors, Carlos Ripley of Humble, Texas, and John Koelle of Gurnee, Ill., were appointed to the board.

The lawsuit asserts that both Ripley and Koelle were elected because of a promise to invest $1.25 million each into the company, but that neither one actually made the investment. Immediately after their election at a January board meeting, those two joined existing board members Donald Rett, a Tallahassee attorney, and Jay Marsh, Universal Beverages' treasurer, to vote out Moore and force Mendius out, the lawsuit says. Moore and Mendius did not know of the directors' plans before the meeting, according to the suit.

The company's one other director, Earl T. …

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