In-N-Out Burgers said Tuesday that it fired a top executive, who had claimed in a lawsuit that the Irvine hamburger chain was trying to dump him as part of a plan to push aside founder Esther L. Snyder.
Richard Boyd was removed from his position on the three-member In-N-Out board and relieved of his duties as vice president of real estate and development. The action was taken by the two other members of the board: Vice President Mark Taylor and Snyder, who is company president, In-N-Out General Counsel Arnold Wensinger said in a statement.
The dismissal was the latest chapter of a bitter fight pitting Boyd, who retained his role as co-trustee of nearly two-thirds of the private company's stock, against Taylor and 23-year-old Lynsi Martinez, Snyder's only grandchild. It's a struggle that features dueling portraits of Snyder, who helped open the first drive-through In-N-Out stand in 1948 with husband Harry Snyder.
Boyd's lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court last month, accused Taylor and Martinez of trying to take control of the company from Snyder, who is 86 and said to be in poor health. The company's countersuit portrayed Snyder as an active board member and president, and accused Boyd of fraud and embezzlement.
Both sides denied the allegations leveled at them. Each side also released a statement about Boyd purported to have been signed by Snyder last month. One expressed steadfast support for Boyd. The other expressed disappointment in him.
Harry Snyder died in 1976 and the couple's two sons, who each ran the company for a time, died in the 1990s.
Although both lawsuits are still active, Wensinger said that Boyd's removal "allows us to operate our business in the way that we have been accustomed to, instead of having our hands tied."
Boyd sought a temporary restraining order to stall the board's action but failed to get it, his attorney Philip Heller said.
Heller called the board meeting "a sham that violated anyone's concept of fairness and due process. We intend to contest it and it will be overturned."
A company statement accused Boyd of "a vicious and baseless attack on a company and family whose best interests he had been appointed to protect."
Martinez, who owns almost 25% of the company's stock and is expected to inherit most of the remaining shares over the next 12 years, said that Boyd "continues to circulate the most outrageous fabrications and untruths about me and my grandma in an increasingly desperate effort to draw attention away from his own misdeeds."