UPDATED: Gemtech alleges Smith & Wesson violated acquisition agreement in federal lawsuit

A Gemtech sign on display. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Gemtech sued Smith & Wesson in Idaho federal court for violating an asset purchase agreement signed last year. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

Gemini Technologies accused Smith & Wesson of squashing an international sales deal to avoid paying the suppressor manufacturer a cut worth millions, according to a lawsuit filed last week in Idaho federal court.

The gun maker closed a $10 million deal in August to acquire Gemtech, promising a two-part escrow payment and a portion of any product sales proceeds over the next three years, not to exceed $17.1 million.

Gemtech said in court documents filed Jan. 24, however, the gun maker faulted on both ends of the agreement by shorting the escrow payment $1.5 million and scuttling a potential $207 million sales opportunity with buyers in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

“Smith & Wesson’s breaches violated, nullified, and significantly impaired the cash payments and the earn-out payments to Gemtech,” the complaint says.

Elizabeth Sharp, vice president of investor relations for American Outdoor Brands — Smith & Wesson’s holding company — refuted the claims in a statement to Guns.com Wednesday.

“We believe that the lawsuit is without merit,” she said. “We look forward to defending our company and actions.”

The suppressor maker, founded in 1993, calls itself an industry leader and a favorite among U.S. military personnel, including Special Operations Forces. The company itself came back from the brink of bankruptcy in 2014 after Ron Martinez, a former Bank of America senior executive, bought a majority of its shares and pledged his home to infuse the company with much-need capital. By the time Smith & Wesson offered to buy Gemtech in March 2017, company sales exceeded $17.2 million.

Smith & Wesson appeared so impressed with Martinez’s leadership, the gun maker hired him as general manager and vowed to consult him before making any decisions that would negatively impact the payout deal secured in the asset purchase agreement (APA).

The gun maker also pledged to steer clear of any actions capable of reducing the sales payout over the next 36 months, according to court documents.

“Gemtech saw these conditions as a protection, particularly the ongoing requirement to consult with Martinez, because of what had happened to Advanced Armament Corp., LLC, and its owner Kevin Brittingham, in a similar asset purchase case by Remington,” the complaint says.

Martinez transitioned into his role for Smith & Wesson in August and began arranging an international sales demonstration in the Middle East he thought would “close easily” and generate approximately $207 million. He presented the plan to company executives Aug. 30 and explained he’d already obtained the necessary federal permits.

Despite this, Smith & Wesson’s general counsel cancelled the permits, while company executives fired Martinez and called off the sales demonstration — all without explanation. Gemtech alleges Smith & Wesson did this intentionally, knowing it would diminish the sales payout.

“The APA contains both express and implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing,” the complaint says. “Smith & Wesson breached its covenants of good faith and fair dealing by terminating Martinez’s … employment and by postponing Gemtech’s international demonstrations.”

Gemtech requests a trial by jury, damages and attorneys fees.

Editor’s Note: Article updated at 12:57 p.m. to include a response from Elizabeth Sharp, vice president of investor relations for American Outdoor Brands, Smith & Wesson’s holding company.

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