Articles Posted in MIscellaneous

secret

In some circumstances, a business may be able to claim that its organizational documents are trade secrets. That seems to be the holding of a trial court decision insulating a partnership agreement from disclosure to a labor union.

The case is interesting because non-management owners do not generally have free access to all of the records of a business, but they do have a right of access to organizational documents. This case raises the prospect that a company that in turn enters into other ventures might classify those documents as proprietary or trade secrets and avoid disclosure to parties with an interest in their contents.

The dispute actually arose under New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act.  The lawsuit, Communications Workers of America and New Jersey Education Association v. John McCormac and Blackstone Capital Partners et al., L-3217-05 (2008), involved a complaint brought by several state workers’ groups against defendant public officials and private equity funds seeking documents which might reveal the investment strategy defendant private equity firms were utilizing to invest state worker pensions.

remedy

Businesses often create additional new businesses, whether as joint ventures or subsidiaries. The flexibility and favorable tax treatment given to the limited liability company have made it fairly common that an LLC has other business entities as its owners.  For the individual owner, however, this situation can present problems.  The requirement that the members act at the company level often means less individual control and less ability to address acts of wrongdoing in the subsidiary or joint venture.

The individual owner’s recourse is the double derivative action, a complicated device in which the individual owner. asserts the rights of the parent to assert a claim as an owner of the subsidiary. It’s confusing, but the principle is generally well accepted.

An Example

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