Judge’s ruling comes after three-week trial in a suit that accused Dan Price of breaching a contract between the two brothers.
(This story was updated July 12 , 2016 to include a statement from Lucas Price.)
In a case that pitted brother against brother, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price successfully beat back a suit brought against him by older brother and co-founder Lucas Price.
Lucas Price did not show that Dan violated Lucas’ rights as a minority shareholder, a King County judge ruled late Friday.
The ruling came after a three-week long trial in late June before King County Superior Court Judge Theresa B. Doyle.
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Dan Price gained fame in 2015 for his decision to raise the minimum wage of employees at the credit-card payment processing company to $70,000 per year. The move received international attention; NBC News and The New York Times were present at the announcement.
In her 32-page decision, Doyle ruled that claims Dan Price compensated himself excessively and used his corporate credit card for personal expenses without reimbursing the company were not proved.
Doyle ordered that Dan Price’s legal fees be paid by his brother.
Lawyers for Lucas Price did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lucas Price said he was “shocked and disappointed” in an emailed statement days after the ruling.
“I am evaluating my options,” he said.
Dan Price posted on Facebook Friday evening: “I will never take for granted the incredibly valuable role Lucas played in creating our company. I’m thankful for the opportunity to put this challenging time behind us.”
Lucas Price’s suit came to light shortly after the minimum-wage announcement, although the suit had actually been served on Dan weeks before that announcement.
The brothers started their company in 2004, and signed a contract in 2008 that gave a majority stake to Dan Price and removed Lucas Price from day-to-day responsibilities. It also set in place minority shareholder rights for Lucas.
The suit claimed that Dan Price breached the contract, claiming that Dan overpaid himself and cut Lucas out of important company decisions. Lucas sought unspecified damages, but wanted Dan to buy out his ownership shares.
“This is an unfortunate and troubling story of ego, resentment and an unwillingness of Dan Price to live with a deal he and his brother struck in 2008,” Greg Hollon, lead attorney for Lucas Price, said in both his opening and closing statement.
The defense countered that Dan Price’s compensation fell within reasonable boundaries. It said he reimbursed the company for personal expenses charged on a corporate card, and kept his brother updated when needed, all while increasing Gravity’s revenues significantly.
At one point during the trial, Dan Price said he would likely lose control of the company if forced to buy out his brother’s shares for $26 million, the assumed value.