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Business Court Ruling Completely Exonerates Mike and Jennifer Smith of Cornelius

  • January 17, 2023

Charlotte, NC – Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP is pleased to announce that the North Carolina Business Court issued a ruling on January 11 dismissing with prejudice all claims against James Michael (“Mike”) Smith and his wife, Jennifer Smith. Mike was the founder, former CEO, and majority owner of Carolina Beer and Beverage (CBB) in Mooresville, now known as Carolina Beverage Group.

Filed in 2019 and 2020, the four lawsuits brought by some 20 plaintiffs claimed the Smiths misled them, causing the plaintiffs to sell their shares in CBB. The buyer was Charlotte businessman Richard Siskey who took his life in 2016 after the FBI investigated him for multiple Ponzi schemes unrelated to these cases. Many of the plaintiffs had been long-time clients of Siskey.

The Business Court’s ruling repeatedly concludes that the plaintiffs failed to offer “any evidence” to back their claims. “Plaintiffs have failed to forecast evidence demonstrating specific facts, as opposed to allegations or contentions, showing that they can at least establish a prima facie case at trial.” Because the claims were dismissed with prejudice, they cannot be filed again.

“We are grateful that the court recognized what we have said all along: that the Smiths were swept up in opportunistic litigation that had nothing to do with them or the great business Mike Smith built,” said Mike Adams, a partner at Parker Poe.

“These plaintiffs independently negotiated with and sold their shares in CBB to Siskey in 2007 and 2008, nearly three years before the sale of a majority stake of our business to a private equity firm,” Mike Smith explained. “They filed the suit against us nearly a dozen years later, claiming sour grapes for missing out on the financial rewards they might have experienced had they kept their shares in the company.”

“We are grateful to the CBB members that retained their shares in the company through a complete sale of the business in 2018 and were handsomely rewarded by doing so,” Mike Smith continued. “We are proud of the lasting impact of the company, which continues to be a thriving business under new ownership employing more than 400 people in Mooresville.”

In addition to Mike Adams, Parker Poe partner Nicholas Lee represented the Smiths in this litigation along with Ward Davis of Bell, Davis & Pitt.

Since the Smiths sold the business in 2010, they have lived a quiet life and become major benefactors to many philanthropic endeavors, including Philips Academy (a Charlotte school for students with complex language, learning, and/or cognitive disabilities), the South Carolina Waterfowl Association, UNC Charlotte Athletics, and the Cain Center for the Arts in Cornelius.

“We are grateful for our friends and the many community members who have stood by us while these lawsuits have been adjudicated,” Mike Smith added. “We are also thankful for our legal team who helped us set the record straight.”

About Parker Poe
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP has more than 275 lawyers in eight offices in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Washington, DC. The firm provides legal counsel to many of the largest companies and local governments in the Southeast.

Parker Poe is a member of two leading international legal networks: TerraLex and the Employment Law Alliance. TerraLex and the ELA have chosen Parker Poe to help guide clients through the challenges of global business.