(CINCINNATI) -- Pornography king Larry Flynt is being sued for $20 million by his younger brother, Jimmy, who claims he was wrongfully terminated from the family's business.
Jimmy says Larry has stopped paying him his $250,000 salary and has tried to force him out of the family's several Hustler-branded operations, which include casinos, clubs, retail outlets and publications, including Hustler magazine.
Larry's attorney, Amanada Lenhart of Dinsmore & Shohl, says in response: "Jimmy's baseless claims have already been rejected by two different judges, and we are confident that his latest desperate attempt to harass Mr. Flynt will be similarly dismissed.”
Jimmy's lawsuit, explains his attorney, Robert Hojnoski, is part of a larger, ongoing dispute involving the brothers' respective ownership stakes in the business and their use of Hustler trademarks.
Though Hojnoski says Larry and Jimmy were once close, relations curdled in 2009 when Jimmy's sons started a business of their own using the Hustler name. Larry sued to stop them and insisted that Jimmy exercise his influence as the boys' father to get them to desist. The boys persisted, and relations between the elder Flynts deteriorated.
How are relations today?
"Strained," says Hojnoski, "non-existent. They haven't made up."
What complicating things now is the fact that business relations between the two were based on understandings that were oral, not written. Hojnoski says that's not unusual for a family company. These enterprises tend to based, he says, on "lose, informal, trusting relationships. There's often a laxity in how they're set up and organized."
Tom Deans, an expert on family businesses, agrees. "I wish I could say this is rare," he says, referring to Larry and Jimmy's Cain-and-Abel tussle.
"But within a family business it's very typical. Often in a family business, in the early days, a lot of shortcuts get taken and there isn't any formalizing of job descriptions. Families get into business and think that trust and love will prevail. In the fullness of time, it usually doesn't work out particularly well."
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