Archive for June, 2011
Sno-Balls aren’t exactly the usual Carnival issues and events I write about, but Sno-Balls and Mardi Gras are certainly cut from the same cloth! Plus, I had a huge urge to cover this emerging story. New Orleans, there’s no place on earth like it.
A group of vendors that sell New Orleans-style shaved ice are suing a manufacturer of sno-ball machine parts in federal court for alleged racketeering and fraud.
Plum Street Snoballs, Raggs Supply, Special T Ice Co., Parasol Flavors, Simeon Inc., Southern Snow MFG and Snow Ingredients are suing SnoWizard Inc. and Ronald Sciortino in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
New Orleans attorney Mark Andrews filed the suit June 24.
The suit alleges that SnoWizard violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by gaming market prices and fraudulently claiming patents on the ice-shaving machine’s components parts.
SnoWizard is “trying to assert and establish bogus intellectual property rights – all traceable to the fundamental falsehood that SnoWizard invented … the whole “industry” – and that everybody else is just a copying, infringing pirate.”
The suit references litigation from 1984 in which SnoWizard sued Eiseman Products, claiming a patent on a wide array of snoball related products. A federal judge ruled against SnoWizard and the decision was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1986.
The suit states that the “whole SnoWizard ice-shaving machine was never patented. SnoWizard’s first owner filed a patent that was denied in 1942 and the prominent ‘patent pending’ on the door of the ice-shaving machine after 1942 was a false marking.”
The false patents also extend to a door hinge, the machine’s leg design and several custom flavors like “King Cake,” “Cajun Red Hot” and “Buttered Popcorn.”
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment “of the invalidity and un-enforceability of Defendant SnoWizard’s purported trademark rights.
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Once again, suing your aged dad, granted he’s under the spell of his much younger wife, never is a good idea. It doesn’t matter if you win in the Appeals Court, which the son, Barry, did. Karma works against you when you sue your dad, especially if he’s over 83 years old!
The Kerns build REX, BACCHUS, ENDYMION, MUSES, ORPHEUS, ALLA, CAESAR, and many, many other parades around the metro area, region, and world. Therefore, lots of money and responsibility come with the territory, and the Mardi Gras crowds annually depend on the Kerns via REX, etc.
A state appeals panel has upheld the court-ordered transfer of control over Blaine Kern Artists Inc. to the Mardi Gras magnate’s son, Barry Kern.
The one-sentence ruling Tuesday denied the elder Kern’s challenge to an April ruling by Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese that enforced a father-son deal convected last year. That deal was intended to quell a family rift that threatened float production for a number of the largest Carnival parades.
The deal, brokered by three prominent Carnival captains, called for Blaine Kern Sr. to sell all of his shares to his son and for the board of directors to turn over management control of the 54-year-old Mardi Gras giant to Barry Kern, 48, at a shareholders meeting. But Blaine Kern stood pat, and no such meeting or vote took place.
At issue, Barry Kern argued, was the financial stability of the company. He twice filed suit against his father during the past year, saying the 83-year-old Kern Sr. had meddled with management and sapped its cash reserves.
Barry Kern cast blame on his father’s fourth wife, Holly Brown-Kern, claiming his father’s spending on houses, cars and other luxuries had ballooned since his marriage to Brown-Kern, while his debt had mounted and he began seeking cash advances from the company.
Blaine Kern’s attorney, William Wessel, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday on the 3-0 decision by a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, finding “no error” in Reese’s ruling.
In ruling for Barry Kern in April, Reese called the need to safeguard Mardi Gras “way bigger” to the world than a father-son rift.
Under his order, the company’s four shareholders — Blaine and Barry Kern and Barry’s siblings, Brian and Blainey — met April 25 at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World to elect three directors who, in turn, named Barry Kern president.
Obviously, Jay Banks’ challenge rocked the Zulu Establishment to its very foundations. Just as quickly, Jay Banks dropped his challenge, so we won’t ever find out what became of those missing absentee ballots.
On Sunday, June 5, Zulu members also ratified James May 29 election.
Banks has run unsuccessfully for Zulu king twice in the past.
This was bound to happen for many reasons. In a system that cheerfully embraces the concept of “vote-buying,’’ it was probably only a matter of time before charges of election day irregularities marred the annual selection of a monarch to reign over the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club.
While many old-line Carnival organizations rely on lineage and social pedigree to choose their royalty under a shroud of secrecy, Zulu has used a democratic process to pick its Carnival personalities ever since the group was born in 1909.
And Zulu encourages would-be kings to wine and dine their subjects with good food, libations and occasionally gifts.
The whole case boils down to a dozen missing absentee ballots. The 2nd place finisher is contesting the election. He may have any excellent case if the missing ballots cannot be produced.
The contest to name the 2012 King Zulu took place Sunday, with lawyer Elroy James emerging as the unofficial winner in a five-way battle.
But before James can claim the crown, it looks like he must withstand a challenge from second-place finisher Jay H. Banks, who reportedly lost by seven votes.
Should be very interesting!