The widow of revered Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle says her late husband’s business partners have shut her out of the company she helped build.
In a lawsuit filed in Dallas County, Taya Kyle said her husband’s partners, Steven Young and Bo French, refuse to let her look at Craft International LLC’s financial records. She said she received a letter from a Craft lawyer that says that she’s not entitled to see books.
“My experience tells me when you have nothing to hide you let the doors open,” said Kyle’s attorney, Lawrence Friedman, with Dallas-based Friedman & Feiger. “When you have something to hide you have a big padlock on the door.”
Documents state that upon Kyle’s death, Taya Kyle became an 85 percent owner in Craft, taking over her husband’s share of the security company, which provides training and security for individual, corporate entities, military personnel.
Kyle’s lawsuit alleges that French and Young have created a spin-off company and unloaded their debt onto Craft.
Chris Kyle, 38, and a friend were killed at a North Texas shooting range in February 2012. Iraq War veteran Eddie Ray Routh has been charged with one count of capital murder and two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Kyle and Chad Littlefield. Kyle and Littlefield reportedly were helping Routh cope with post-traumatic stress disorder when he allegedly shot and killed both men before fleeing in a pickup belonging to Kyle.
Routh’s trial date has not yet been set.
Kyle was known as “America’s Deadliest Sniper” and received multiple medals for heroism and bravery. The Pentagon said his skills with a rifle so terrorized Iraqi insurgents during his four tours of duty that they nicknamed him the “Devil of Ramadi” and had a bounty put on his head.
The Kyles were married for 12 years and have two children. She still resides in Midlothian.
Bo French said in an email on Friday afternoon that Taya Kyle’s allegations in the suit are completely groundless and that making Taya Kyle a member of the Craft group would be going against an agreement Chris Kyle was a part of before he died.
“Craft International is governed by an LLC agreement entered into by its members, all of whom completely understood what they were signing at the time, including Chris Kyle,” French said. “None of the members wanted their spouses to become members in case of death or divorce.”
The suit claims that earlier this month, Young asked Kyle sell her interest in the company for just $12,500, saying that is the current fair market value for her share. That figure came from an independent third party appraiser, according to French.
“Taya Kyle did not become a member of Craft upon Chris’s death, but she does have certain rights. One of those is the right to have her interest bought by Craft at fair market value,” French said.
Friedman alleges that Craft has made a lot of money on the Chris Kyle name, so the company cannot be nearly worthless, as Craft has stated.
“I hate people who kick others when they are down,” said Friedman. “Why wouldn’t they embrace this woman and give her her share?”
Friedman said he’s made a formal demand to see Craft’s financials, but he was declined.
“When Chris died, Taya became the sole parent and breadwinner for her family,” said Friedman. “Chris was a war hero, and not a financial planner. He was at the beginning of his business career.”
According to the lawsuit, Kyle wants a true accounting of all the funds that have come in and out of Craft, and an accounting of the funds for Young and French’s other business, which Kyle believes was set up to compete with Craft.
If it is found that this is true in court, she would also like a declaration of ownership in the company that Young and French own. Kyle is also asking for an official acknowledgement of the Kyle estate’s ownership rights of Craft.
Kyle is demanding a jury trial.
French said Craft has made every effort to be supportive of Kyle and her children following the death of her husband, noting that they have raised several hundred thousand dollars to support both Kyle and the Littlefield family.
“Craft agrees it is time for the parties to separate in a business sense, and it moved forward in the manner provided by the agreement,” French said.
Widow of famed Navy SEAL sniper says she’s been shut out of her own company
December 27, 2013