Securities Law

Purchase of Old Stock Certificate Is New Version of 'Beverly Hillbillies,' Judge Says

A case pending in Delaware considers whether the heirs of a man who bought an antique stock certificate at an estate sale are now entitled to a $130 million stake in Coca Cola.

The case involves the California family of Tony Marohn, who died in 2010, two years after he bought the Palmer Union Oil Co stock certificate, Reuters reports. Coca-Cola filed the suit in 2009 seeking a declaration that it doesn’t owe Marohn any stock.

Lawyer David Margules, who represents the estate, says the stock certificate was endorsed and assigned, but the transferee was left blank, the story says. When Marohn filled in his name, he became the legal owner, Margules alleges. He contends Coca-Cola eventually became a successor to Palmer Union Oil.

Judge Leo Strine saw parallels to a 1960s TV show, according to the Reuters account. “This is a new version of the Beverly Hillbillies,” he said at a Jan. 31 hearing. But he warned the Marohn estate against pursuing “a drive-by of a public company” in an effort to get money to drop the case.

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