According to the Omaha World-Herald, Lenora Sapp, the widow of one of the four brothers, does not believe she should be bound by agreements to return millions of dollars in stock to the surviving brothers' company.
However, Sapp Bros. CEO Bill Sapp said agreements signed by stock owners dictate that anyone leaving the privately held company - whether from retirement, termination or death - sell the stock back to the company.
The value of the stock is in dispute, with Lenora Sapp saying it was valued at about $13 million in 1995, when Ray Sapp died. Bill Sapp says the true value was about $3.5 million. Ray had the second-highest number of shares when he died, at 13%. Bill says if they paid Lenora the $13 million she claims the stock is worth, it could destroy the company.
Lenora Sapp sued the company in December, four years after her husband's death, over control of her husband's shares. Her attorney says the widow should be allowed to keep the shares or transfer them to whoever he wants.
Bill Sapp says Ray and Lenora signed an agreement that the shares would go back to the company with the purpose of keeping control of the company in the hands of those who are actually running it.
But court filings say that the brothers don't religiously follow those agreements themselves. In three cases, attorneys say, Sapp Bros. allowed shares to be transferred rather than sold back to the company. However, those other transfers involved small numbers of shares and had little impact on the company.
Lenora's son Jim, who works in the Sapp Bros. empire, is supporting his mother in the dispute against his uncles.