George Foreman's Steak Venture Gets Raked Over the Coals in $50M Lawsuit

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A lawsuit has been filed against former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman for fraud and breach of contract relating to a line of steaks that were to be marketed with his name through a Web site, catalog and shopping channel, plaintiff GreatMeals USA said Friday.


The $50 million lawsuit alleges that Foreman and co-defendants Miami-based law firm Greenburg Traurig LLP and its partner John C. Kirkland conspired to transfer valuable economic opportunities from GreatMeals USA, Washington, DC.


However, according to a Nov. 22 Omaha World-Herald article, George Foreman Foods Inc., Omaha, NE, filed for bankruptcy earlier that month and Foreman is suing owner Larry Humberstone for allegedly misusing the George Foreman name. That article contended that Foreman is not one of the owners of George Foreman Foods and licensed his name and likeness to the company.


Foreman got into the food business because he saw an opportunity to replicate his success with grills, GreatMeals USA president Steven Krane told DM News in 2003. More than 40 million George Foreman grills have sold since the brand was launched in 1996.


GreatMeals signed a contract with George Foreman Foods in 2003 to launch a Web site for the George Foreman Steaks brand and to handle all sales through the Web site, catalogs and cable shopping networks.


Filed in the Santa Monica branch of the Los Angeles Superior Court by the law firm of Yuhl Rhames & Atkinson, LLP, the lawsuit seeks compensation for lost revenues as well as punitive and exemplary damages.


GreatMeals contends that Foreman represented himself as the sole owner of George Foreman Foods. The lawsuit further contends that while GreatMeals was launching the Web site, georgeforeman.com, developing a line of steaks and signing an exclusive contract with the Home Shopping Network, the defendants had secretly transferred the controlling interest in George Foreman Foods to Victor Kirkland, brother of John C. Kirkland.


It also alleges that Foreman ultimately refused to promote the steaks, as he agreed to do in the contract, the defendants stopped the launch of the catalog and interfered with the contract and licensing agreements GreatMeals had entered into.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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