Darja Laboratories, a Minden pharmaceutical company that in November received a governor's award for growing Nevada businesses, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Dec. 17 filing came hours before the company faced eviction from its Airport Business Park laboratory, said Minden developer Al Shankle, owner of the 86,250-square-foot facility at 2323 Meridian Boulevard.
However, Darja owner Darlene McCord, also the company's chief executive and scientific officer, said the company is eliminating its manufacturing division under the reorganization rules of Chapter 11.
"It's really a reorganization," McCord said. "We're going to maintain all of the research and everything. It's just one portion we're trying to separate."
McCord said the company, which develops and manufactures skin care products, turned its hand to manufacturing in September. Unfortunately, the venture was not successful, she said.
"We're better researchers," she said. "The way we set it up is not economical."
In documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Reno, Shankle claims he is owed almost $440,000 for seven months back rent, and he alleges the McCords filed bankruptcy specifically to block the eviction.
"They were scheduled to be evicted, and at the ninth hour they got a stay of eviction giving them an opportunity to remove items from the building that were supposed to remain in the building as collateral," Shankle said Monday.
Shankle said items were removed from the building belonging to him, Wells Fargo and an Ohio company hired to manage Darja.
"None of this should have been moved," he said.
McCord, who owns the company with her husband, James, said she is unaware of Shankle's bankruptcy court claims and said the issue is really one between a landlord and a tenant that will be worked out in court. She called Shankle's comments "inaccurate"
"In a divorce, people get mean and they get ugly," she said. "I don't want to engage in a debate."
She would not comment on the rent claim except to say, "Would someone have you there for seven months and not have you pay, or where there other reasons?"
Shankle's attorney, Robert Bachman, asked bankruptcy Judge Gregg Zive for a hearing earlier than Jan. 22 to evict Darja from the building so new tenants can be moved into the facility. Shankle said North Sails Nevada is interested in taking over a small portion of the building.
Bachman claims that "relief from automatic stay must be granted on an emergency basis and sanctions against the debtor and its counsel should be imposed for their abuse of the bankruptcy system and for the misrepresentation bordering on fraud to the sheriff and (Shankle) of the effect" of the court order granting the eviction stay.
The hearing was moved to Jan. 17, but Shankle said a teleconference hearing Thursday will decide whether he can evict Darja from the building.
"I don't think there's any doubt (Zive) will have to allow the eviction process to proceed," Shankle said. "It's just unfortunate that something like that had to proceed. They could have just moved out under the eviction notice rather waste the time and attorney fees."
Court documents listed Darja assets at less than $50,000, with debts approaching $770,000.
Founded by the McCords in California in the late 1980s, Darja Laboratories employs about 15 people. McCord said about half of the staff would retain their jobs with the company's research and development division.
"We're just trying to get a breather from the manufacturing," she said. 'We're just trying to do the right thing here."
The company develops and manufactures skin care products in its Minden facility aimed at patients who suffer from ailments ranging from "life-threatening skin wounds to young people with acne," according to information at www.darjalaboratories.com.
McCord's credentials on the Web site list her as a leader in the development of wound-care products. James McCord is listed as an academic-turned-manufacturer. Court documents list them as equal partners in Darja.
Darja was honored this year as one of 34 new or growing Northern Nevada businesses at Gov. Kenny Guinn's Annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon. Darja's Web site says it is one of two companies used in Nevada's national advertising program.