EL PASO, Texas - A jury has ruled in favor of Richard Poe II, the man fighting to regain control of the estate of his late father, El Paso car dealer Dick Poe.
Poe seized control of his estate with a stock transaction 10 days before his death in May 2015. His eldest son, Poe II, is suing to regain control of three dealerships and is also seeking damages from three employees currently managing the estate.
10 out of 12 jurors found the stock transaction was "not valid" and enforceable under the Texas Business Organizations Code.
Poe II's attorneys argued during closing arguments the stock issuance was "fabricated" by the defendants: attorney Paul Sergent, accountant Tony Bock and dealership comptroller Karen Castro, pointing out the elder Poe made his eldest son his legal guardian, trusting him with his life, and never revoked that guardianship before his death.
"Why did (the stock issuance) occur? Because it was a hijacking, a hostile takeover," Rob Millimet, Poe II's attorney, said during closing arguments Monday. "Why didn't they tell him? They knew if Richard found out he could stop (the stock issuance)."
Richard Munzinger, the defense attorney, countered by saying, "Justice requires the truth. Sometimes truth is bitter. Sad. This is one of those cases."
Munzinger also questioned whether Dick Poe and his eldest son had a loving relationship. "Where were the witnesses to that," the attorney asked.
"The fact of the matter is, for some reason, Dick Poe disinherited his son Richard," Munzinger said, "I take no pleasure in saying this. I'm a father. This isn't nice, but it's true."
During the trial, the defense argued Dick Poe did not trust his eldest son because he feared he was on drugs. It also pointed to Poe II's failed businesses. "What would you do? Issue shares of stock or leave it in hands of man who lost $18 million," Munzinger asked the jury.
"Dick did this because he was concerned for (his younger son) Troy, the dealerships and to care for Richard," Joe Hood, another defense attorney, said, "When Dick died he wanted someone other than Richard in control. He had valid reasons for it."
"Dick never told anyone he did it because his son had a drug problem. Why? It's fabricated," Poe II's attorney said.
Damages and liabilities are scheduled to be argued in front of the same jury Wednesday morning.
The courtroom was filled with concerned Dick Poe dealership employees, prompting Judge Patricia Chew to warn Poe II not to make any changes at the dealerships until after the damages phase.