Spam Heir Sues Inventor for $3.6M
Oct. 23, 1997
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The heir to the Spam fortune is suing to recover more than $3.6 million he invested to develop technology to predict earthquakes, money he claims the inventor used to buy mobile homes.
Geordie Hormel, son of the founder of Hormel Co., wants to recover his property and investment and to dissolve Off the Wall, the company he formed with David Farnsworth of Portland in 1994.
A judge has ordered U.S. marshals to seize property Hormel said his money paid for, including a $150,000 motor home, a $50,000 self-propelled motor home trailer and a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That property, along with other merchandise such as laptop computers and a $26,000 color copier, is being held by the federal court.
Yet, despite the lawsuit filed in August, Hormel and Farnsworth are in settlement negotiations and Hormel hasn't abandoned the earthquake-detection business, said Barry Caplan, Hormel's lawyer.
``Even when he filed, he hadn't given up,'' Caplan said. ``He had just figured that he needed a different way to get a return for his investment.''
Hormel declined to comment and Farnsworth did not return telephone calls.
Farnsworth and another researcher claimed to have predicted the March 25, 1993, earthquake that struck the Willamette Valley. Less than three months later, he forecast a moderate quake in western Oregon, prompting an elementary school to evacuate its 150 students. The quake didn't occur.
About that time, Farnsworth persuaded Hormel to invest in his earthquake-predicting technology. According to court papers, Farnsworth told Hormel the technology almost was developed and he just needed a little more cash to finish it. Hormel claims the technology never materialized.
Geologists and geophysicists have said Farnsworth's science is unproven.
In Hormel's home state of Arizona, he is known to have given millions to just about anyone who asked _ including strangers who called him at home _ and to have financed failed environmental projects.
``I'm one of those people that no matter how often I've been taken, I still believe in people,'' Hormel said in July. ``I hate to turn anybody away.''