A Heated Deposition Turns the South Butt Case Into One Giant "Clusterf@#k"

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Remember how The South Butt LLC -- a Mizzou freshman's apparel company that's getting sued by The North Face for trademark infringement - has that motto, "Never Stop Relaxing!"? Well, on Friday, the student's father, Jim Winkelmann Sr., stopped relaxing.

Eighteen minutes into a deposition held by the apparel giant's lawyers, he grew so enraged  that a recess was called.

Now he's demanding that North Face's attorneys at Bryan Cave withdraw from the case, insisting that the firm once represented him and is now drawing on that familiarity to impugn his character. Throw in concerns about stalking, and we have on our hands what South Butt attorney Albert S. Watkins calls, "a monumental clusterfuck."

Meanwhile, South Butt's 19-year-old founder Jimmy Winkelmann, is headed to Panama City on Friday for spring break. He'll be handing out South Butt t-shirts on the beach.

North Face filed the federal lawsuit last August, generating much publicity and revenue for the tiny company; South Butt answered with a cheeky response, and the judge ordered both parties to mediate. Friday's deposition was supposed to be part of that hashing-out-of-differences. That is, before it went off the rails.  

Winkelmann Sr. says he arrived at the deposition prepared to discuss the case. "We have nothing to hide," he says. (Well, sort of: during Jimmy's recent deposition, opposing counsel brought up his minor offense of marijuana possession last Halloween, and he reportedly said, "You're not gonna tell my dad, are you?")

The subpoena for Winkelmann Sr. lists several topics to be covered, all of them involving South Butt, in which he states he's played the role of business manager and sounding board ever since Jimmy began classes at Mizzou.

"Jimmy is the ultimate entrepreneur," he says. "He's got all these ideas, and he's got everybody else doing his work." 

Winkelmann other businesses include Blue Ocean ATM and Blue Ocean Portfolios, but you may remember him best from Huntleigh Securities and HFI Securities. There, he was the partner of Don C. Weir, who's now in prison for stealing $12 million in precious-metal coin investments from dozens of clients (read our feature here).

Early on in Friday's questioning, North Face lawyers from Byran Cave tried to broach the subject of a lawsuit in which Winkelmann and Weir's companies got sued by a landlord for not paying rent at 8000 Maryland in Clayton, formerly their headquarters. They conceded this case, and later the landlord sued them again, successfully, for fraudulently transferring assets to avoid having to pay.

When all of this came up on Friday, Winkelmann told the lawyers that their firm must already have those details, because Bryan Cave represented him in the initial lease. Not only that, he said, they'd represented him, his family and at least six of his businesses in at least 15 matters over the course of eight years. Then things got craaaa-zy!

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