By  on January 24, 2008

Jimmy Choo founder and president Tamara Mellon filed a $10 million lawsuit Wednesday against her mother, Ann Yeardye, for breach of contract in the sale of the company in 2004.

Mellon and Yeardye held interest in Jimmy Choo through family trusts. At the time of the sale, the price was paid to the family in cash and stock of the new owner, Hicks Muse, which is now Lion Capital. According to the complaint in California Supreme Court, Yeardye and Mellon reached an agreement partly verbally and partly in writing that Yeardye would receive her share in cash only and Mellon would take her share solely in stock.

The lawsuit alleged that Yeardye mistakenly received some of the stock that was supposed to go to Mellon and refused to return it when the error was discovered.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, injurious falsehood, tortuous interference and breach of fiduciary duty.

"It is with immense sadness that I take this action, but I see no other way to protect my daughter's interests, which are my paramount concern," Mellon said in a statement. "The property in question was to help secure my daughter's future, and I am baffled by my mother's refusal to return assets, which rightfully do not belong to her. I have tried every means to settle this case but, after a long period of time, the action I have initiated today seems the only course available to me."

Yeardye could not be reached for comment.

Mellon said in the complaint that she offered to resolve the dispute by putting the stock into a trust for her five-year-old daughter. The offer was allegedly refused. Mellon's daughter, Araminta, is also named as a plaintiff in the complaint.

In the complaint, Mellon asked for $10 million in damages, plus additional punitive damages.

According to the company, Mellon founded Jimmy Choo in 1996 as a partnership with Jimmy Choo, a London-based couture shoemaker. The firm partnered with Equinox Luxury Holdings Ltd. in 2001 and expanded. In 2004 Lion Capital, formerly Hicks Muse, acquired a majority share of the company in a deal that valued the company at 101 million pounds, or $187 million.More recently, TowerBrook Capital Partners LP acquired Jimmy Choo in February of last year in a deal that valued the company at 185 million pounds, or $364.5 million. According to the Jimmy Choo Web site, Mellon continues to oversee the company's creative direction, along with creative director Sandra Choi, and she is still a significant shareholder in the firm.

Jimmy Choo, Lion Capital and TowerBrook said in a statement Sunday that the enterprise value of the deal was 185 million pounds, or $364.5 million at current exchange.

Last month Jimmy Choo opened a new flagship on Rodeo Drive as part of a West Coast expansion. The company said it will open five more stores in the next two years. Currently the firm has 22 stores in the U.S., which generate about half of its worldwide sales of approximately $177 million in 43 total stores.

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