Another Longaberger family member sues parent of basket-making company


Rachel Longaberger Stukey has joined her sister, former Longaberger Co. CEO Tami Longaberger, in suing the parent company of the basket-making firm over money the company allegedly owes.

The suit, filed on Nov. 7 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, says that after Dallas-based JRJR Networks bought the Longaberger Co. in 2013, it sought to cut Stukey’s ties from the business that her father founded and buy her shares of the company. Stukey was a shareholder and led the company’s foundation.

JRJR issued a promissory note to Stukey for $4 million that was payable over 10 years, or payable in full “in the event of a default in payment.”

Stukey’s suit says that JRJR “repeatedly defaulted and failed to pay,” despite Stukey’s “repeated pleas for payment.”

As a result, Stukey is demanding full payment of the $4 million.

A JRJR Networks spokesman said the company wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

The litigation comes a year after Tami Longaberger sued JRJR Networks over $1 million she loaned the company. That case involves events that took place after JRJR Networks, then known as CVSL, bought a 51.7 percent stake in Longaberger in 2013. Afterward, the company asked Tami Longaberger to loan the company $1 million to pay bills. But the parent company has not repaid any principal or interest, according to the lawsuit.

JRJR has countered Tami Longaberger’s suit, suing her for fraud and accusing her of failing to disclose the company’s alleged millions of dollars in tax liabilities when JRJR Networks bought the Newark-based basketmaker in 2013.

Since buying the Longaberger Co., JRJR Networks has come under scrutiny from various quarters over unpaid bills and late financial filings. A potential source of revenue, its iconic basket-shaped headquarters in Newark, is up for sale but hasn’t attracted much interest from potential buyers. The company moved the last of its office workers out in July.

All of these complications take place against a backdrop of unpaid taxes on the “Big Basket” headquarters building.

The Longaberger Co. currently owes more than $600,000 to various local taxing entities for roadwork, lighting and other improvements made when the headquarters was built.

In September, Licking County Treasurer Olivia Parkinson sent the Longaberger Co. a notice of pending foreclosure on the building.

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