Lawsuit imperils Ghost Runners Brewery, waterfront plans

Majority owner says suit by Texas-based investor part of a ‘hostile takeover’

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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A dispute between Ghost Runners Brewery and an investor spilled into the courts last week and could affect development of its coveted waterfront real estate.

In a complaint filed Friday in Clark County Superior Court, Texas-based investor Brad Rummer argues that the brewery has been mismanaged into insolvency and its assets should be sold off by a receiver.

Jeff Seibel, who together with his wife, Amy, owns the majority of the company, calls the mismanagement claims untrue and said the suit is part of a “hostile takeover.” He says Rummer torpedoed the business so he could seize its assets — including a 6,500-square-foot space at The Waterfront Vancouver.

Neither Rummer or his attorneys at Vancouver firm Landerholm could be reached for comment.

Rummer’s complaint states he was recruited as an investor whose portfolio could help Ghost Runners Brewery land a lease at The Waterfront Vancouver, a multibillion-dollar development near the Columbia River that at the time had not yet broken ground. Rummer invested $200,000 and came to an agreement with the brewery’s three co-owners.

Rummer’s complaint alleges that sometime after entering into the agreement, the brewery’s sales started to slide and he was asked to invest more capital. The complaint further alleges the brewery failed to meet some of its obligations to Gramor Development, the Tualatin, Ore.-based firm with whom Ghost Runners signed its waterfront lease.

The four owners voted to sell off all its assets, according to the complaint, including its brewery and tasting room at 4216 N.E. Minnehaha St. and its waterfront lease. Rummer also claims the other co-owners tried to remove him from the company after a dispute.

“(The brewery) continues to operate below a break-even level due to poor management and financial decisions by the Seibels,” the suit alleges. “Rummer has been cut off from the company and his investment has been used up by the Seibels in their poor management.”

Jeff Seibel, when reached by phone Tuesday, called Rummer’s allegations and timeline of events false.

“It’s rough to go into a lawsuit and see everything is fabricated and untrue and have to defend yourself against a Texas multimillionaire,” he said. “It’s the classic case of ‘I didn’t get my way, so I’m going to sue you.'”

According to Seibel, Rummer initially invested in Ghost Runners Brewery in December 2015 to help it grow into the Portland market and add brewing capacity.

He said that at that point, the owners had not discussed any property at The Waterfront Vancouver. Gramor announced its deal with the brewery in March 2017.

Seibel also claimed Rummer broke the partnership agreement. He accused Rummer of refusing to help pay bills as per their agreement and firing a sales employee.

“He literally just killed all of the summer sales by removing him,” Seibel said.

Rummer also neglected the obligations on the lease with Gramor and is trying to orchestrate a takeover, Seibel said.

“Through litigation, he’s costing us tens of thousands of dollars to try and bankrupt Ghost Runners Brewery so he can get it for free,” he said.

On Monday, Ghost Runners Brewery created a GoFundMe page asking for $20,000 to pay legal fees.

Besides seeking a receiver, Rummer is asking to recoup his legal fees.

Matt Grady, vice president of development for Gramor, said he couldn’t comment on the dispute or how it will affect the lease.

He said that next month Gramor plans to turn over restaurant space at The Waterfront Vancouver to tenants so they can begin their own improvements and finishing work.

The two parties will meet with a judge Dec. 15.

Correction: Gramor Development came to its agreement with Ghost Runners Brewery in March 2017. The article previously stated an incorrect year.