A business partner of California-based global cannabis brand Cookies on Friday vigorously defended the company leadership following news last week of two pending lawsuits against the business and several of its executives. Cookies Retail Products, which is a Florida-based licensee of California-based Cookies, asserted in a press release that a lawsuit it filed in January will be dismissed at its request, and that news coverage of its suit and another legal action is “suspect.”
A shareholder lawsuit filed against Cookies and CEO Gilbet Milam, aka “Berner,” earlier this year alleged a number of wrongdoings by the company and also made reference to the lawsuit by Cookies Retail Products (CRP), that had been filed in January in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The CRP lawsuit alleged breach of contract, fraud, and several other misdeeds by several Cookies executives and requested at least $38 million in damages, but it did not name Berner as a defendant.
That’s a major difference from the recent shareholder suit, which directly targets Berner, Cookies President Parker Berling, and other Cookies staff for allegations of “pervasive self-dealing” to the detriment of Cookies’ shareholders.
But CRP requested dismissal of its case, according to the release, though it has yet to be formally thrown out by Los Angeles County Superior Court where it was filed. A hearing regarding the dismissal is scheduled for June 22, according to court records. The suit was first filed on Jan. 4, and then a request for dismissal was filed by CRP on Jan. 17, court records show.
“CRP has voluntarily dismissed all suits and claims, and expresses a sincere regret for any misunderstandings CRP’s allegations may have caused,” the statement reads. “CRP has sought to seal and dismiss any such allegations in order to preserve the integrity of the COOKIES brand and partnership.”
According to the statement, CRP company leadership “realized the suit was filed prematurely,” and said the licensee is “unaware of any unethical behavior by Berner, Berling, or Cookies’ Management.”
“Certain third parties influenced us to file suit based upon allegations that we learned were not true, so we took immediate steps to rectify the mistake by dismissing the suit,” Paul Rock, CEO of CRP, said in the release.
“CRP and I express our confidence in the ethics and integrity of Parker, Berner, and Cookies,” Rock continued. “We continue to do business with Cookies, in fact, and express our sincere desire to move forward productively together.”
“Lastly, it is a shame that our dismissed suit was used in such a manner and find the timing is suspect given recent positive growth for the brand and our company. We at CRP consider this mischaracterization of our own closed legal action to be shameful and opportunistic,” Rock concluded.
The other lawsuit – first filed in February and then largely expanded in an amended suit in March – is still pending, and a hearing is scheduled for June 28 in L.A.
That suit contends that Berner and other Cookies leaders have used threats, occasional violence, and kickback schemes to enrich themselves at the expense of Cookies shareholders.