Articles Tagged with involuntary dissociation

  • There are circumstances in which a member of a limited liability company in most states may be expelled as a member from the company.  This is known as involuntary dissociation.

  • An action may be brought by the LLC seeking a court order of involuntary dissociation on the basis that the member has engaged in wrongful conduct that has or will harm the company, has repeatedly breached the operating agreement, or because it is not ‘reasonably practicable’ for the company to continue with him or her as a member.

  • Dissociated members lose their rights to participate in management, but retain their financial interest and a right to receive distributions. 

  • In litigation over an involuntary dissociation, a court may order a sale of the interests of a member to the LLC or to any other party to the litigation.


    Limited Liability Company AttorneysProbably the most litigated issue in my practice involves the expulsion of a member of a limited liability company in response to some wrongful conduct or breach of the operating agreement. We represent majority owners when they are trying to remove a member and we represent the minority member who is fighting removal. Not all states permit removal or expulsion – known as involuntary dissociation – for misconduct and some recent decisions indicate that in the states that do, it may be harder than once thought.

Involuntary Dissocation of a Limited Liability Company Member

There was a belief, perhaps unreasonably so, that Courts were unwilling to keep people in business together when plainly the owners were no longer capable of maintaining a working relationship. The New Jersey Supreme Court, in the first decision by any state supreme court on the topic, held that the concept of “not reasonably practicable” to stay in business together means more than a personality conflict. It requires a structural inability to act, such as ongoing deadlock or significant wrongful conduct. Continue reading

070116_1250_PartiestoAr1The subject of the Appellate Division’s recent decision in Ames v. Premier Surgical, LLC, Docket No. A-1278-15T1 (June 29, 2026) is who decides whether a dispute is subject to mandatory arbitration. But the nature of dispute here suggests a cautionary tale about withdrawal and valuation, and what happens when the exit rules from a business don’t have clear valuation provision accepted by all as fair.

Limited Liability Company Valuation Dispute Triggered by Member Departure

The direction that you’re headed at the time certainly determines the parties’ perspective in business divorce and succession cases. Here the office to buy a retired surgeon’s shares was just 2.5 percent of his demand, and only about 13 percent of what the membership units cost 15 years earlier.

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LLC Divorce: Till Death Do Us Part, or Just Irreconcilable Differences

Just Divorced

Should a business divorce be hard or easy?  In the world of human divorces, it’s the difference between no-fault divorce and divorce only after a showing of cause.  In the world of businesses, it turns on the
concept of court-ordered purchases and sales of minority interests.  And in the area of law governing limited liability companies, it is the concept of “involuntary dissociation” – expulsion, if you will, of one of the members.

Involuntary Dissolution of LLC

Two recent cases in the past month demonstrate this concept.  East of the Hudson River, we have the First Department of the Appellate Division in New York opinion in Barone v. Sowers, , 2015 NY slip OP 04195 (1st Dept May 14, 2015), in which the court held that allegations of oppressive conduct simply don’t make out a claim for relief under New York’s limited liability statute.

Compare this Empire State decision with one from the Garden State captioned IE Test, LLC v. Carroll, docket No. A-6159 (N.J. Super. App. Div., March 17, 2015)(Opinion Below).  Here, the appellate court affirmed the expulsion of a member because it was clear that the parties personal animus prevented them from maintaining a working relationship.

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Landmark Decision Will Make Removal of Members Eaiser

asu-logoMany limited liability company litigators have presumed that to expel a member from a New Jersey limited liability company you must establish wrongful conduct such as dishonesty or involement in a a competing business. And moreover, if the case is successful, the next assumption was that the company must buy back the interest of the ousted member

Both the trial court and the attorneys involved in All Saints University of Medicine Aruba v. Chilana, Docket No. A-2628-09T1, App. Div Dec. 24, 2012 (read decision below), seem to have made the same assumptions. The appellate court, however, in this recent decision made clear that neither is accurate.

Limited Liability Company Act Permits Expulsion Through Involuntary Dissociation

Similar situations actually arise with some frequency. One of the members of an LLC, for whatever reason, becomes a hindrance to the continued operations of the business. Perhaps the LLC needs capital and the member will not, or cannot, contribute their fair share. Perhaps the LLC relies on the members working in the business on a daily basis and one of them stops coming to work.  (Editor’s note: The Supreme Court has drawn portions of the reasoning of the Apellate Division into question in its 2016 decisions in IE Test v. Kenneth Carroll.  Read our coverage of the decision here.)

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kicked-out

Time was that the expulsion of a troublesome individual from a limited liability company or partnership generally meant that the business entity would have to be dissolved and either start over or be sold off.  Changes to partnership laws — and the adoption of similar provisions in New Jersey’s limited liability company — make it possible to remove an LLC member without dissolution of the entity.

Unlike Delaware law — on which New Jersey’s LLC Act was modeled — or New York law, New Jersey law includes a provision borrowed from partnership statutes that permits the involuntary dissociation of a member for wrongful conduct or when it is simply no longer reasonably practicable to stay in business together.  The statutory provision comes from uniform limited liability company and partnership laws.  This departure from Delaware law is a substantial consideration when organizing an LLC or when a dispute arises between the owners.

What that means in practical terms is that for LLCs organized under New York or Delaware Law, the aggrieved parties must often establish that the business cannot go on in pursuit of its original purpose if they are to immediately recoup their investment or, in similar fashion, that the behavior of the offending party is so egregious that the business cannot continue.

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