Heirs of 'Uranium King' Settle Court Battle

Heirs of 'Uranium King' Settle Court Battle

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(AP) Two heirs of the man credited with finding one of the richest uranium veins in U.S. history have reached a settlement in their bitter fight over the family company, which once dominated western Colorado and eastern Utah.

Andrew and Mark Steen settled opposing lawsuits Wednesday after a nearly three-day trial in Moab, Utah.

The settlement calls for Mark Steen and the family company, of which he is president, to pay Andrew Steen $165,000. In exchange, Andrew Steen, who insisted during the trial that he was entitled to one-quarter ownership of Mi Vida Enterprises Inc., is cut out of the company.

Under the agreement, neither can file an appeal of the decision and the slanderous and defamatory statements that have been a hallmark of the family feud must cease.

Seventh Judicial District Judge Lyle Anderson ordered Mark Steen and Mi Vida to pay within a week or he will wipe out the settlement and decide the case himself.

Asked if he accepted the settlement, 53-year-old Mark Steen responded, "Yes, sir, I do, your honor."

His 55-year-old brother, however, said: "I will say yes, but with great reluctance. I am saying yes of my own free will, but against my better judgment."

The Steens are the sons of Charlie Steen, who in 1952 discovered one of the richest veins of uranium in U.S. history southeast of Moab. The strike made him a multimillionaire and helped finance the development of most of modern-day Moab.

Charlie Steen eventually lost much of his wealth in bad business deals and the Internal Revenue Service, and he declared bankruptcy in 1968. He currently suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Family members have fought over what's left of the fortune for decades.

The brothers each tried to convince a judge they had been wronged. Andrew Steen said his brother had engaged Mi Vida Enterprises in shady, fraudulent business ventures and cheated him out of his shares in the company. Mark Steen filed a $10 million counterclaim accusing his brother of meddling in company business.

At times, the judge mused aloud about whether the brothers had ever gotten along.

"I wonder if there was a time when a gentle, tender word was exchanged between these two. I hope there was. It seems far in the distance now," Anderson said.

After receiving consent from the Steen brothers to the settlement, Anderson concluded: "It's kind of a sad chapter -- the end of the life of someone who's a legend around here, a legend in many ways, Charlie Steen."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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