The ocean never claimed Phil Harris, the chain-smoking, blue-tongued, Harley-riding captain of the crab-fishing boat Cornelia Marie. Harris, made famous by the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch, died after complications from a stroke Feb. 9.
But now a man named Glenn Coggeshell, 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, a coffee branding entrepreneur, 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. It became part of the family dispute over the use of Leon's famous brother Jimi's likeness. (Mike Seely detailed that fight in a profile of Leon in March 2009.)
Coggeshell claims that 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, Coggeshell states in a lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court on Aug. 9, Harris "shut Plaintiff Coggeshell out of their Joint
Short of a courtroom seance, Harris can't take the stand in his own defense in the battle over the coffee that bears his name.
Venture and converted Plaintiff Coggeshell's half of the Venture to purely his own use."
Today, on a website Coggeshell created to promote his coffees, he posted a rant that begins (metaphorically): "The sea rarely gives up the dead, or that's what Phil Harris thought when he tried to throw former business partner Glenn Coggeshell overboard."
The Harris family's attorney did not respond to a request for comment this morning. But Manager Russ Herriot says by phone 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, Herriot claims.
According to Herriot, the new coffee line is a separate business to which Coggeshell has no claim.
In June, the coffee company was the source of another dispute with an Oregon-based sales rep named Marsha Cruz. Herriot claimed Cruz, whom Harris hired to represent the original line of coffees, continued to sell a Deadliest Catch-inspired blend without the permission of the family. Both Cruz and Herriot say that spat has been resolved and Cruz says she will likely be a witness against Coggeshell.
Harris might not have feared squalls at sea, but if he were still living, you have to wonder how he would have weathered this legal storm.