Quote:Heirs to the founders of W.L. Gore & Associates Inc of Newark, Delaware, have fought for years over how to divide their stake in the privately held company, which has $3 billion in annual revenue.
Their battle landed in court over the question of how the late Wilbert L. Gore, who founded the company in his basement in 1958, and his late wife, Vieve, intended to divide their fortune.
At the center of the dispute was the adoption nearly a decade ago by Susan Gore, one of Wilbert's five children, of her ex-husband, Jan Otto.
According to the court's opinion, Susan Gore and her son Nathan Otto began considering the adoption to even out the potential distribution from a family trust, which was meant to divide 26,500 Gore shares.
But because Susan Gore and Jan Otto had three children, while each of her four siblings had four, Susan's children stood to inherit fewer shares, according to the opinion. Eventually, the court said in its decision, she decided to adopt her ex-husband, who initially assured her he wanted to be her son merely to benefit their children.
Susan Gore went to a Wyoming court and secretly adopted Jan Otto in 2003, when he was 65. A year later, Jan Otto had a change of heart and decided to keep the potential distribution from the trust for himself, according to the court ruling.
I am speaking of the life of a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children; who has undertaken to cherish it and do it no damage, not because he is duty-bound, but because he loves the world and loves his children… - Wendell Berry, 1971