The Battle For Boneflower: Meadery Co-Owners in Legal Dispute

In Beer News by Steve

Boneflower Mead logo.

An owner of one of the nation’s top meaderies is accusing his business partner of fraud, deception and draining business funds for the personal benefit of himself and friends, according to a new lawsuit.

Boneflower Mead co-founder Aaron Schavey filed suit Friday against fellow co-founder Geoff Resney, alleging he has misspent business funds, including through fraud, to the point the Northwest Indiana business is all but insolvent, with available funds now less than $400.

The suit, obtained by Guys Drinking Beer after it was filed in Lake County (Ind.) Superior Court, comes after a week of Chicago-area social media activity pointing to a dispute between the two. It was filed just hours before the region’s largest beer festival, Dark Lord Day, and its largest mead festival, Sugarbelt Mead Festival. Boneflower, ranked by Untappd users as the fourth best meadery in the nation, was absent from both events.

Neither Schavey’s Indianapolis attorney, Patrick Sullivan, nor Resney, responded to outreach.

The complaint notes that Schavey – long recognized as the face of the brand – raised $102,000 for Boneflower’s initial capital, entitling him to 49% ownership, as he made the product and managed operations. Resney, with 51% ownership, managed finances, licensing, permitting and regulatory filings. But the lawsuit also notes “no written operating agreement exists.”

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It accuses Resney of failing to file a business entity report in 2020, which led to Boneflower being administratively dissolved by the State of Indiana in January 2021. And while a January 2024 move was planned from a facility in Portage, Ind. to Merrillville, Ind., Resney failed to secure a lease, maintain insurance or obtain a license to produce or sell alcohol at that site. Schavey says he was unaware of any of Resney’s failures to act.

Despite that, Resney has said “he intends to produce, market, share, distribute and/or sell alcohol without a license,” the suit adds, and also “potentially give away or share the alcohol” even though “these actions are potentially criminal and/or illegal.”

Last week, public comments from Resney on social media confirmed his plans to serve drinks and food from the Merrillville space, though commenters were quick to point to the lack of license to do that. He claimed “Boneflower is in the middle of some drastic changes that should make for a more defined and well run brand.”

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In March, Resney changed the locks of their Merrillville business and dismantled security cameras and systems, denying Schavey entry and putting equipment and other assets “at immediate risk of harm,” the lawsuit claims.

Assets are further threatened, the suit alleges, because Resney “has co-mingled his individual funds and finances with that of the business,” draining the business account to just $367.91 as of March 29. Since that month, Resney has incurred $27,190 more in “unapproved expenses.”

The suit also says Resney “utilized (Schavey’s) personal information, including his social security number” and his “personal information to obtain a line of credit.”

Resney won’t give Schavey an accounting of funds and is accused of “making distribution from Boneflower to himself” and “to individuals… with which he has a personal relationship.”

That includes securing work by unlicensed contractors, who charged the company $24,000 for work that Schavey says licensed contractors were willing to perform for just $3,750.

Last week, the lawsuit adds, Resney admitted Boneflower “is functionally immobilized.”

Accusing Resney of “malice, fraud, gross negligence and oppressiveness,” Schavey is asking the court to appoint a receiver to take control of the business, dissolve Boneflower Mead Co., issue an order for Resney to account for his actions since its inception and award Schavey unspecified damages.

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Boneflower drew national attention even before opening their doors, winning Mazer Cup awards for their heavily-fruited, high-ABV meads. Their 2018 Indiegogo campaign to help launch Boneflower sold out in just 13 hours. Untappd users delivered a pair of 1st place awards to Boneflower this year and say its pyment mead, Slow Heavy Jam, is the nation’s best.

Records show an initial hearing on the civil complaint has not yet been set.

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About the Author

Steve

The skills Steve honed in his 20 years digging up corruption and cornering politicians as a newspaper reporter in northwest Indiana and Chicago are now being used to track down and review quality craft beer only available in the Hoosier state.

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