Without John Murray, the former CEO of Crystex Composites, LLC, the Clifton manufacturer of composite materials would likely not exist. It was Murray who bought the plant in a bankruptcy sale and ultimately ended up with nothing for his efforts. Murray’s failure, however, to assert that he was the rightful owner of the Crystex plant was cut off by application of New Jersey’s Entire Controversy Doctrine, which requires that any claim between the parties to a lawsuit be resolved in one action.
This case has a long history. Murray put together a management team, investors, and arranged financing for the reborn of Crystex in 2003, but he was ousted by the other members of the LLC in May 2004 after failing to make a capital contribution of $200,000. Murray sued, alleging that his pledge of stock to secure a line of credit satisfied his obligation to the business and challenging his removal from the business.
The case went to trial in state court in 2006, with claims of misconduct by both sides. Ultimately, the case turned the issue of whether a Memorandum of Understanding, by which Murray agreed to make his contribution by March 2004 or forfeit his interest, was enforceable. Murray lost, with the court finding that he had “never acquired an interest in Crystex.” Murray appealed, but was unable to reverse the trial court’s decision on the core issue of his ownership. Opinion here.