Kevin Costner Fighting Investment Lawsuits on Two Fronts

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Rumors continue to circulate that Kevin Costner will join the new Superman movie, but the actor might need a hero to help defend multimillion dollar lawsuits on a couple of fronts, from oil spill cleanup technology to life-size bronze sculptures commissioned for a planned resort.

In December, the actor was sued by Stephen Baldwin and a business associate named Spyridon Contogouris, who claimed they were tricked into selling shares of a company that marketed a technology that separated oil from water and was used by BP to deal with a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. In response, Costner asked a judge to dismiss him from the lawsuit, citing the complaint that inadequately connected him from the alleged fraud.

On Friday, the plaintiffs submitted a new amended complaint (embedded below) that highlights Costner's participation in allegedly defrauding Baldwin and Contogouris out of their interest in a joint venture, Ocean Therapies Solutions, which had an agreement with Costner's company, C.I.N.C. Industries, to market the oil separator technology.

According to the new documents, Costner sold his interest in C.I.N.C. when it was looking less than successful, but wanted back on board the ship. So Costner allegedly attempted to persuade Bret Sheldon, who bought Costner's shares and ran C.I.N.C., to abandon any marketing arrangement with Contogouris and work exclusively with him. Later, Costner allegedly expressed "incessant complaints" about being undercompensated for his involvement in OTS, and told Contogouris, "There's no business without me, Kevin Costner."

That's when the alleged fraud started, say the plaintiffs, with Costner and a business associate telling Contogouris and Baldwin they needed to put up $3 million for a cash infusion to their venture without an explanation about why or where the money was going. Later, the amended complaint alleges that when Contogouris and Baldwin started thinking about selling their shares, upon the false impression that BP wasn't buying the technology, Costner reiterated his demand for a cash infusion if they retained their shares. Presumably, this gave Contogouris and Baldwin an incentive to sell. Eventually, the plaintiffs cashed out in a deal that is now said to have benefited Costner. It's alleged that the money that came from BP was used by Costner and one of his associates to buy Contogouris and Baldwin out of their interest.

This isn't Costner's only legal battle at the moment.

He's also fighting a South Dakota artist named Peggy Detmers, who has gone to court to reclaim the "Lakota Bison Jump" a collection of 125-percent-life-scale bronze sculptures showing 14 bison and three Native American hunters on horseback. The sculptures were commissioned by Costner in the early 1990s for a proposed resort, The Dunbar, which was never built despite Costner having spent $20 million on it. Detmers got a $350,000 artist's fee for her work but says that the sculptures are worth $4 million.

Late last month, Costner and Detmers both testified during a court trial meant to establish whether under a contract signed in 2000, Detmers has the right to force a sale of the sculptures and split the proceeds if the two sides couldn't mutually agree on where to place the sculptures.

Costner testified that as the artist, Detmers "had a place of authority" for the positioning of the sculptures, but that as the owner of the sculptures, "I had the final say." 

The sculptures are now displayed at one of Costner's other resort properties. Both parties are submitting briefs this month to the judge, who will then issue a ruling.

Reach Eriq Gardner at eriqgardner@yahoo.com

New amended complaint against Kevin Costner in the oil spill technology case:


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