John Stocking, founder of Endangered Species Chocolate Company of Talent, reached a settlement with the new owners of the company, DZ Enterprises, in December, a surprising end to what looked to become an acrimonious courtroom battle. (See BITTER CHOCOLATE, September 2005 issue.) Details of the settlement were not disclosed but Indianapolis-based DZ, which became the majority owner of the company last year, issued a statement expressing regret about any negative impact on Stocking’s reputation and integrity. “I feel very vindicated,” says Stocking. The settlement also included an undisclosed financial sum and a noncompete clause that doesn’t preclude him from getting back into the chocolate business in the future. Stocking has remodeled the Talent plant into a workout facility for young women athletes, including his daughter, who plays volleyball for Ashland High School.