Coffee Clash

The estate of Captain Phil Harris is sued by a former business partner.

The ocean never claimed Phil Harris, the chain-smoking, blue-tongued, Harley-riding captain of the crab-fishing boat Cornelia Marie. Instead Harris, made famous by the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch, died February 9 on dry land after complications from a stroke. But now Glenn Coggeshell, a Snohomish entrepreneur who worked with Harris to develop a line of coffee using his name and fishing exploits, says Harris tried to sink him. In the summer of 2008, Coggeshell approached Harris about creating a coffee line under the name Deadliest Brew. The year before, Coggeshell developed a similar celebrity-inspired coffee line with Leon Hendrix. (He dropped it when it got caught up in that family's legendary infighting.) Coggeshell claims he put $50,000 into creating Harris' product, and started lining up potential retailers. He has a video on YouTube showing Harris in front of a Deadliest Brew coffee display dated August 2008. But then, over the winter holidays—as Coggeshell states in a lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court on Aug. 9—Harris "shut Plaintiff Coggeshell out of their Joint Venture and converted Plaintiff Coggeshell's half of the Venture to purely his own use." The Harris family's attorney did not respond to a request for comment. But Harris' manager, Russ Herriot, said that Coggeshell did receive profits from the original coffee venture. Then, after problems getting additional bank financing, the whole enterprise was dissolved at Harris' request. The family then launched a second coffee line, Captain's Reserve, that is a separate business to which Coggeshell has no claim, Herriot says. In June, Captain's Reserve was caught in another dispute with an Oregon-based sales rep named Marsha Cruz, who was accused of selling yet a third Phil-inspired coffee, Captain's Gourmet, without the family's permission. Both Cruz and Herriot say that spat has been resolved, and Cruz says she will likely be a witness against Coggeshell.

 
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