Articles Posted in Directors

The law that controls any business organizations is a creature of state law, and disputes among owners in a business divorce involve the application of the law where the business was formed. More often than not that means the law of the state in which the dispute is being heard, but not always. And significantly, at least for our present purposes, it does not mean that we will find the answer to a business divorce issue in the state in which the litigation is pending, even among the binding decisions of the state law where the enterprise was formed.

Here’s an example: a New York court is calleBusiness Divorce Attorneysd upon to determine whether a managing member of a limited liability company breached his or her duty in negotiating a sale of a substantial asset to a third party that the manager negligently believed was an objectively fair price. The plaintiff seeks to expel the manager or to force a dissolution and sale of the business as a going concern. Does the Court apply New Jersey law? If there is no New Jersey case on point – and there is no binding decision on all of the points in this scenario – does the Court apply New York law, and to which issues?

Even if this case is litigated in New Jersey, and there is no law on point, where does the trial court look to guidance. The nearly automatic response is Delaware, because the courts of Delaware have by far the most developed body of law applicable to corporate governance disputes. However, Delaware may be the wrong choice if the limited liability company statute needs interpretation. A well-reasoned decision from an Appellate Court in Illinois, for example, should be much more persuasive to a court construing New Jersey’s limited liability company statute because of the similarity between the two states’ laws.

Shareholder Deadlock AttorneyIs an intractable deadlock among the shareholders good grounds to force the sale of a large, successful corporation? That was the issue before the Delaware Supreme Court in a case in which the trial court’s decision to sell the business as a going concern – over the objection of one shareholder –was affirmed by the Supreme Court.

In this case, a trial court’s ability to fashion and equitable remedy based on the circumstances of the case ran into direct conflict with the limited remedies that are available to minority shareholders under Delaware law.

Court Orders Sale of Corporation in Shareholder Deadlock

Indemnification legal fees attorney | lawyer
The potential liability of a director for attorney’s fees is what determines whether recoverable litigation expenses are due under the indemnification provisions of Delaware law, the Chancery Court holds.

The expenses at issue were incurred in litigation that wound its way through state and federal courts in Illinois for nearly a decade, including a bankruptcy. The Plaintiff in Dore v. Sweports, Ltd, C.A. No. 10513-VCL (Del. Chancery January 31, 2017) was a former director and investor in Sweports, who was ousted in a dispute with the other directors and locked out of the business. A significant component in the lawsuit involved the services of the law firm that was general counsel and also represented the plaintiff in some of the underlying litigation.

Court Awards Expenses Incurred Under Oral Agreement to Defend Counterclaims by Corporation Against Former Director

Conflict and Negotiation Case Study: The Importance of Sincerity
One of the hardest things about being an effective negotiator is the ability to leave your ego at the door.  We need to listen, not impress.

Seasoned Negotiators, Effective Apologies

As negotiation trainer Jim Camp warns, an effective negotiator learns how to let the other side be “ok,” even when you’re not.  The fact is that no matter how well we listen, no matter how well we employ our negotiator’s tool kit to learn the real interests of the other side, we’re going to make mistakes.

Oppressed Minority Shareholder Attorney

You just learned that an employee secretly formed and operated a competing business while employed by you.  Is there a claim against the competing business or just the employee? Most likely there are viable claims against both.  The fiduciary duties of the employee are likely to be imputed to the company he or she formed.

Breach of Fiduciary Duties

Similar facts were before the court recently in an unfair competition and breach of fiduciary duty case, Vibra-Tech Engineers, Inc. v. Kavalek, Civil Action No.: 08-cv-2646, in the United District Court for the District of New Jersey. (opinion here) A vice president and director of Vibra-Tech, along with his wife, formed two businesses.  One of the businesses sold equipment to Vibra-Tech; the other competed directly for the same customers.  Vibra-Tech, of course, had no idea that one of their executives was involved in the two businesses.

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