Accusations of "modern day cattle rustling" against a Morrilton family of cattle producers have produced a lawsuit, but no criminal charges, in the disappearance of a 466-head herd.
In the suit, the owners of the missing cattle want the Allison family to pay them the $821,416 that they say the livestock is worth, plus damages.
In response to the lawsuit, family members have called for the litigation to be thrown out of court, complaining that the suit is long on accusations but short on proof.
The litigation, filed in April in Conway County Circuit Court against the family and its companies, Allison Cattle Co. and Rebel Cattle Feeders, had been stalled by related bankruptcy litigation that barred the case from moving forward.
But the plaintiff, Bott Cattle Co. of Kansas, asked Judge David McCormick earlier this month to revive the suit, reporting that an agreement has been reached in bankruptcy court to proceed so Bott could move forward to collect insurance funds on the lost cattle.
Whether the suit can also move forward is not clear, however, due to court filings submitted last week by the Allisons' insurance company seeking a declaration in Pulaski County Circuit Court that the family's liability insurance does not require the insurers to pay for its legal representation.
A condition of the arrangement for the litigation to resume is that it does not produce new debt in the bankruptcy case.
The Bott suit targets not only the companies but also the companies' owners -- Harold B. Allison, 82, of Allison Cattle; and his son and daughter-in-law, Stanley Wayne Allison, 49, and Rachael Lynette Allison, 46, who run Rebel Feeders.
"Bott Cattle believes and therefore alleges that defendants stole the ... cattle," states the lawsuit filed by attorneys Patrick James and Charley Swann of the James, House and Downing firm of Little Rock.
Swann did not return a phone message Friday afternoon.
The Allisons' attorney, Andy Turner of Cabot, did not return a call seeking comment Friday afternoon.
According to the suit, Bott Cattle had been doing business with the Allisons for five years without incident.
Their arrangement was that Bott would buy the livestock from Harold and Stanley Allison through Allison Cattle, then transfer the animals to the Rebel feedlot for "preconditioning" -- the 60- to 90-day process of preparing them for sale. Then Bott would take possession of the cattle and sell them, according to the lawsuit.
Allison Cattle and Rebel Feeders are neighbors on Arkansas 113.
Between July 2014 and October 2014, Bott purchased 466 head of cattle in six lots from Allison Cattle, and they were moved to the Rebel lot for preconditioning. The suit states that Bott had buyers lined up, waiting for the cattle to be conditioned.
Bott states that it was subsequently billed $94,188 by Rebel for the animals' food and medical treatment. The company reported that seven animals died, a "small" death rate that was "consistent with Bott's previous dealings with Rebel and the industry averages," according to the lawsuit.
"Bott Cattle was repeatedly reassured and led to believe that nothing was wrong ... and that the cattle were healthy, feeding well and only experiencing normal death rates," according to the lawsuit.
According to the suit, "the first indication of problems" came last January, when Bott stopped getting bills for the animals' care from Rebel. But Stanley Allison promised that the invoices would resume being sent, it said.
In March, Bott representatives Daryl and Annette Bott went to Morrilton and met with Stanley Allison, who told them that all of the cattle had died, the suit said. The Botts said in the lawsuit that they found that explanation unbelievable, in part because Allison said he was the only one who knew about it, and because they'd never been told about any serious health problems with the cattle.
"This story of a [100 percent] death rate for the six lots of cattle is implausible given the prior course of dealings between the parties, industry averages and the fact that the cattle were healthy and eating well. Further, this story is implausible due to the fact that Daryl and Annette Bott were told by Stan Allison that neither Harold Allison, the veterinarian nor Rebel Cattle's hired hand knew anything about the excessive claimed deaths.
"It is further inconceivable that Stan Allison single-handedly disposed of the 466 alleged dead head of cattle by himself and with no help."
The lawsuit accuses the Allisons of stealing the cattle and seeks to force them to pay Bott for the price of the cattle, $599,078; the medical and feed expenses, $94,188; and $128,150 in lost profits.
The suit alleges breach of contract, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, fraud and deceit, and intentional interference with a contractual relationship. Aside from the $821,416 that Bott says the cattle are worth, the plaintiffs also want to be awarded punitive damages, and attorneys fees and costs.
Since the suit was filed, Stanley Allison has had a $28,621 judgment with interest imposed on him in Conway County Circuit Court after he failed to respond to a lawsuit by Frontier Trading Co., seeking repayment for unspecified goods and services.
Petit Jean State Park Bank has also filed suit against Allison, his wife and two companies they operate, Rooks County Feeders, which is in Kansas, and Allison O&G, over a $611,475 loan from June 2009.
Stanley Allison's father, Harold Allison, is the legal representative for the O&G company. According to the lawsuit filed in Conway County in June, most of the amount is still owed, with interest accruing at $119 per day.
The bank had petitioned the court in August to find Stanley and Rachael Allison in default for not responding to the lawsuit, but the couple received bankruptcy protection from the litigation when they filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy that same month.
According to their bankruptcy filing, the couple -- who are parents of four children at home, three of them adults -- reported assets of $175,002, with debts of $2.1 million. Together, the couple reported zero personal monthly earnings, with their sole income at $750 per month from business operations.
The filing shows that Rachael Allison has an ownership interest in at least one tanning salon. They reported monthly living expenses of $7,175, including vehicle and insurance payments.
Metro on 10/26/2015
Print Headline: Theft alleged in missing-cattle suit