Back view of businessman with umbrella looking at city

  • The removal of a member from a limited liability company, known as involuntary dissociation, is permitted by statute in most states and may also be permitted in an operating agreement.

  • Removal is permitted when a member has engaged in wrongful conduct that has or will materially affect the company or when the member has repeatedly breached the operating agreement.

  • Removal may also be permitted when a member files for bankruptcy or if it is not reasonably practicable for the LLC to continue with them as a member.


There are plenty of choices that we make in our lives that we would like to undo. Some we can and some we can’t. Breaking up with a business partner is the topic of this discussion. More particularly, how a member of a limited liability company can be expelled from the business. We’ll cover the circumstances in which members can be expelled, when it’s easy and when it’s not.

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    • A business divorce is the process by which the owners of a business separate their business interests.  The process involves negotiation and may also require litigation.

    • These cases can be divided into four phases: the emergent phase, the examination phase, the valuation phase and the resolution phase.

    • Most owner lawsuits end in a negotiated transaction because it gives the parties more flexibility over the manner in which the case is resolved.


We’re going to look at business divorce in terms of the four phases that the typical case goes through from its start to the time that is resolved, either through settlement or trial.We should start with the most basic definition of what is a business divorce. I use the term to describe the process by which people who were in a business together disentangle themselves. Continue reading

  • Limited liability company statutes often require the unanimous approval of the members before actions may be taken outside the ordinary course of business or for any amendment of the Operating Agreement.

  • The requirement for unanimous action creates a minority veto – any member can veto the actions of the majority – often leading to deadlock.

  • States that have adopted the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticiut, require unanimous actions.  Other states, including Delaware and New York, permit major actions to be taken by simple majority vote.


These days we’re seeing a  political world in which we have a national politics that is very, very closely divided, and one or two people have tremendous control over the rest of the country.  It’s not just the Congress, but over everyone. And they’re basically, even though they only have one vote, they’re able to stop things, able to derail a process. They have a minority veto. Continue reading

  • The effective date of an LLC member’s expulsion may be a critical issue in business divorce litigation and may be tied to critical events or the litigation.

  • Courts will look at the facts and circumstances of the case before determining the effective date, but are often guided by the parties’ own intent.

  • A court may give the expulsion a retroactive date, often the date that litigation was commenced.

  • An arbitration award entered in a dispute between two parties over the alleged issuance of shares in a financing transaction was vacated by a court because of the arbitrator’s failure to issue the written award on time.


Cases-of-Note-CorporationsIn the Matter of the Application to Confirm an Arbitration Award of Theodore Papakonstadinou and AKTOR CORPORATION, Petitioners, against Nikolaos Sparakis, LIZBETH GOZZER and GOZZER CORPORATION, Respondents. 

Petitioner Theodore Papakonstadinou is a director and owner of 95% of the voting shares of respondent Gozzer Corporation (“Gozzer Corp.” or “Corporation”), a domestic corporation with its principal place of business at 1043 Broadway, Albany, New York. The remaining 5% of the shares are owned by respondent Lizbeth Gozzer (“Gozzer”).

  • In a business divorce case alleging the fraudulent acquisition of shares, once the defendant  established the existence of a release, plaintiff must prove it is invalid.

  • A claim of a fiduciary relationship does not relieve plaintiff of proving that he did not release a claim that he was the victim of fraud in the purchase of shares of a closely held business.


Cases-of-Note-CorporationsNilish Chadha, Individually, and Derivatively on Behalf of Wahed Inc. f/k/a Wahed Invest Inc., Plaintiff, against Junaid Wahedna, and Wahed Inc. f/k/a Wahed Invest Inc., Defendants.

  • In a dispute among general partners, a single verbal threat against spouse of one of the partners does not create a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.


CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, J.P. SYLVIA O. HINDS-RADIX COLLEEN D. DUFFY ANGELA G. IANNACCI, JJ.

In August 2007, the plaintiff and the defendant allegedly entered into an oral agreement establishing a general partnership to own, manage, andCases-of-Note-Partnerships-1024x536 maintain real estate and, in [*2]furtherance of that agreement, jointly held title to two properties in Port Chester.

An ordinary contract, even between close friends, does not create a fiduciary relationship from which a court will find an equity interest.


Dominic Thomas Karipaparambil, Plaintiff-Appellant, v Robert Michael Polus et al., Defendants-Respondents. Judgment, Supreme Court, New York County (Jennifer G. Schecter, J.), entered March 10, 2021, dismissing the complaint, unanimously affirmed, without costs.
Appeal from order, same court and Justice, entered on or about March 2, 2021, which granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint alleging causes of action for breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, unanimously dismissed, without costs, as subsumed in the appeal from the judgment.

  • An agreement prohibiting a former associate of a law firm from competing with his former employer within 90 miles of New York City was void and unenforceable.

  • Solicitation of the clients of a law firm by a former associate may be actionable, even if a potential restriction on practice, in limited circumstances.

  • The rule of professional conduct that precludes restrictions on practice will not bar a claim against a former non-lawyer employee.

  • A former employee will violate the computer fraud and abuse act only by having unauthorized access to data, not by using data for an unauthorized purpose.

  • Former owners or employees that access computer systems after termination may be liable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

  • A federal claim based on the unauthorized use of data will likely no longer support a federal claim in a business divorce litigation.


So much impact from such a little word.  The U.S. Supreme Court, resolving a split among the circuit courts, imposed significant limits on the reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), severely restricting its usefulness as a tool to pursue unfaithful former employees and owners.cyberspace-2784907_1920-1024x683

The significance of the decision– which as discussed below turned on the construction of the work “so” in the statute’s definitions – in business divorce cases is that it will limit the ability of litigants to employ the statute as redress for some types of conduct and deprive a plaintiff in some cases of access to federal courts.  (For the linquists and grammarians, the parsing of “so” is in the opinion, here.) Continue reading

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