|By Bruce V. Bigelow, The San Diego
Union-TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 4, 2007 - A rift has opened within the family that controls Evans Hotels, the San Diego company that operates The Lodge at Torrey Pines, the Bahia Resort Hotel and the Catamaran Resort Hotel.
The split was revealed in a series of lawsuits filed last week in San Diego Superior Court by the three youngest daughters of Anne Evans, of La Jolla.
The lawsuits allege that Evans and her two oldest children, Grace Evans Cherashore, 52, and William L. Evans, 48, have mismanaged eight family trusts established after Evans Hotels founder William D. Evans died in 1984.
The suits filed by Nancy Evans Zytko, 46, Anne Evans Quinn, 43, and Margaret Evans Sullivan, 41, ask for a full accounting of all funds and transactions in the eight trusts and seek unspecified monetary damages.
"We are deeply saddened that we've been forced to take this action," the three youngest daughters said in a statement yesterday. "These trusts are our family legacy, and we simply can't stand by any longer and watch them being mismanaged and squandered."
A request for comment from Evans Hotels was referred to San Diego lawyer Steven M. Strauss, who said, "Obviously, Mrs. Evans is very hurt and outraged that her three youngest children would sue her and make such hurtful allegations, especially when she has managed the trusts for the benefit of all her children."
The lawsuits contend that the eight trusts were established for the equal benefit of all five of the late hotel founder's children. But over time, the suits say, Anne Evans "began to lock out her three youngest daughters as they sought to learn the nature of their rights and to simply obtain information about the trusts and the businesses."
By contrast, the suits allege the two oldest siblings were awarded "highly compensated positions" in the family's businesses.
"The facade maintained by (Anne Evans) -- that her youngest daughters were to be kept from the family business operations because they were 'not ready,' or 'not qualified' or 'not willing to do the hard work' was all subterfuge to hide her illegal exploitation of the trusts for her personal benefit," the suit says.
The suits allege that Anne Evans and other trustees diverted funds and distributions from the trusts, made illegal "sweetheart loans" and improper investments.
"The trusts were being used as sort of a low-interest bank account for the businesses," said Chicago attorney David A. Baker, who represents the three youngest Evans heirs. The family businesses are not held in the trusts or owned outright by the trusts' beneficiaries, Baker said, although the beneficiaries own small percentages of different Evans properties in varying proportions.
Baker and other attorneys with the Chicago law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery represented two young members of the Pritzker family, who alleged in a 2002 lawsuit that their trust funds had been looted of $1 billion. The Chicago case was settled three years later, allowing the Pritzkers to begin to divvy up a $15 billion fortune that includes Global Hyatt Corp.
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