Corporate attorney Wolfgang Blumers felt at home in the courtroom. Over the course of his long career, he had handled many complicated tax cases in Stuttgart’s higher regional court. But this time was different – he was the plaintiff, not the counsel. And he wanted money. Lots of it.
Sitting meters away were the defendants, Willem van Agtmael and Wienand Meilicke, Mr. Blumers’ friends and colleagues of nearly 30 years.
Mr Blumers was seeking damages of €220 million, ($250 million), from them. He claimed they had betrayed him in a “gentlemen’s agreement” gone wrong.
The plaintiff and defendants once served together on the board of the foundation that ran the Stuttgart-based Breuninger department store chain.
In Stuttgart, in southwestern Germany, Breuninger is much more than just a name. The upscale department stores have an excellent reputation among the Mittelstand, Germany’s core of small and medium-sized businesses known for its many traditional family firms.