After trading legal blows for more than a year, the feuding owners of United Fiber & Data have reached a settlement.
- The confidential deal ends legal sparring that began in 2020 over the company, which was founded in York by members of the rock band Live and their business partner, Bill Hynes.
- The fight had narrowed in recent months to one between Hynes and Louis Appell III, son of the late Louis Appell Jr., a prominent York County businessman and philanthropist who lent millions to United Fiber & Data before he died in 2016.
- Appell III claimed Hynes and Live members Chad Taylor, Chad Gracey and Patrick Dahlheimer drained money from the business for their personal pursuits, preventing it from making a profit.
- Appell III also initiated a lawsuit against a real estate entity led by Hynes, called 240 Arch LLC.
- Hynes, Taylor, Gracey and Dahlheimer disputed the allegations and claimed Appell III was wrongly seeking to wrest control of the company, known as UFD.
- Settlement talks began as early as March 2021, according to previous legal filings.
What are they saying: Parties to the deal confirmed the settlement, which was also disclosed this week in a legal filing with a York County court.
- “United Fiber & Data LLC and Mr. Louis Appell III confirm that all outstanding claims against Mr. Hynes and his related entity have been mutually, fully and fairly settled, including all allegations of fraud, theft of funds and related allegations of wrongdoing alleged in the Complaint that United Fiber & Data LLC and Mr. Appell filed,” Appell attorney Justin Tomevi of law firm Barley Snyder wrote in a statement. “Both parties are satisfied with the result of the business resolution and look forward to seeing UFD become a profitable company.”
- Taylor wrote in an emailed statement: “As a founder and former CEO, I am grateful to move beyond this legal dispute and restore our alignment of interests. United Fiber & Data is an excellent company with a bright future. I look forward to seeing our vision for high-speed network connectivity thrive while continuing my support of the company, COO and Interim CEO Christopher Lodge, and the Appell Family.”
- In a statement, Hynes, also a former CEO, wrote: “I am happy that the matter with UFD is behind me. In whatever form UFD ultimately takes, I look forward to it becoming a successful and profitable company. I am still committed, as I always was, to serving the community, giving back, creating jobs, and introducing other new and innovative technologies.”
Were there other issues: One of the most prominent was composition of UFD’s three-person board of directors.
- Appell III had been seeking to block Hynes from serving on the board.
- Hynes was questioning the independence of another board member, Pete Brubaker, who had worked for Appell Jr. at Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff and Susquehanna Media.
- It is unclear how the matter was resolved.
The background: Hynes, Taylor, Gracey and Dahlheimer founded UFD in 2012. They had owned about 40% of the company, while Appell III owed 26.18%, according to previous legal filings. It is not clear if the settlement changed the equation.
- UFD built a fiber optic line from New York to Ashburn, Virginia, and has been selling service to data centers and other users.
- Previous legal filings indicate the company had spoken to investment bankers in late 2020 to explore potential transactions, including a sale or merger.
- The completed fiber line represents a significant asset at a time when new construction faces rising costs and other challenges.
- UFD lists dual headquarters in Allentown and York.