Belleville Concrete shareholders sue founders of new company

Kelly Holleran Feb. 26, 2009, 4:56am

Two former minority shareholders of Belleville Concrete Contracting Company have filed suit against the company's former president and his wife, alleging the company collapsed after the president formed another company and deliberately took business from it.

Kenneth D. and Robert G. Fournie Sr. allege Karen and James Fournie – president of B.C.C.C. -- started a concrete business in August 2006 that directly competed with B.C.C.C. for business.

While starting the new business, Karen and James Fournie also worked for B.C.C.C. and would divert numerous jobs from B.C.C.C. to their new company, Fournie Contracting Company, according to the complaint filed Feb. 23 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Some jobs they diverted away from B.C.C.C. included work at Dillard's in Fairview Heights and work at a kidney dialysis center on West Main Street in Belleville, the suit states.

For the Dillard's job, B.C.C.C. had entered into a contract with CDI Contractors, but Karen Fournie began to send invoices to CDI from F.C.C. in September 2006. F.C.C. ended up receiving $1.6 million under the contract that was originally B.C.C.C.'s, Kenneth and Robert allege.

In addition, F.C.C. used B.C.C.C.'s employees to perform work for its business, the suit states.

Karen and James Fournie also commingled B.C.C.C.'s corporate assets with F.C.C., including equipment, keys, materials, vehicles, offices, credit cards, phones and money, Kenneth and Robert Fournie allege.

"In addition, Defedant, Karen Fournie, entered into 'lease agreements' on behalf of the new entity, with her husband, Defendant, James Fournie, President of B.C.C.C., on terms advantageous to F.C.C. but injurious to B.C.C.C. and its shareholders, in that the equipment and/or vehicle 'leases' were either not legitimate, or called for F.C.C. to pay below market rates as rental to B.C.C.C.," the suit states.

All of Karen's and James' Fournie's actions hindered B.C.C.C.'s ability to conduct business, according to the complaint.

As a result, the business went into receivership and is being liquidated by the court, Kenneth and Robert allege.

In the four-count suit, Kenneth and Robert Fournie are seeking punitive damages in excess of $50,000 and compensatory damages in excess of $200,000, plus costs.

They are represented by Eric M. Rhein of Belleville and by Kristi M. Vetri of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-0095.

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