Minority owners of closely-held corporations (in New Jersey) often put themselves in a position where they are cut off from access to the company’s books and records. When that happens, several things can occur, and few of them are good.
For example, majority shareholders who have unfettered access to the company’s finances often abuse their power by granting themselves impermissible benefits that are not related to their employment by the company, and are not proportionately shared with the minority shareholders. » Read More
Because termination of one’s employment does not necessarily equate to shareholder oppression under New Jersey law, as seen in my last post, it is often a good idea to take proactive measures to inoculate yourself against a termination that leaves you in the company as a shareholder, but not as an employee. This is especially critical if you have invested your own money, since an adverse result in a shareholder oppression litigation would leave your shares held hostage by the majority shareholders, essentially allowing the majority to use your capital in a manner over which you have little or no control.» Read More
The New Jersey Supreme Court has decided a new case addressing what it takes to expel a member from an LLC in New Jersey.
The applicable statute in New Jersey (42:2C-46(e)) has three subsections dealing with expelling a member, two of which are fairly clear. One section permits the expulsion of a member by the Court when he or she engages in activity that may hurt the company in a material way, or is about to engage in such activity; and another permits expulsion when a member willfully and persistently breaches the Operating Agreement or the member’s fiduciary duties. » Read More
Most of the time, when I ask a new client who is in control of the company, the question is not difficult to answer. Even after an election takes place, the results are usually not difficult to discern. After all, an LLC or corporation usually does not have so many members or shareholders that the votes are difficult to count. But what happens when the losing side of a vote simply does not recognize the victors, and refuses to cede control?» Read More
As many of you have read here before, the New Jersey Limited Liability Company Act now includes recovery for minority member oppression. Those remedies cannot be waived, as a matter of law. However, the parties to an LLC’s operating agreement (or a corporation’s shareholder agreement) can agree to an alternate dispute resolution (“ADR”) mechanism in advance, impacting the forum in which these issues will be decided.» Read More
In my last post, I wrote about the fact that your right to simply withdraw from a New Jersey LLC and be paid fair market value for your shares – provided the Operating Agreement does not prohibit this – is being eliminated on March 1, 2014. Many readers of that post have contacted me, hoping there was a way to extend that deadline. » Read More
Recently, a defendant testified in a deposition that I was conducting that there was no reason that he could not fire my client, who was a 28% minority shareholder in a New Jersey corporation. Since the defendant was the majority (51%) owner, he believed he could fire whomever he wanted.
Of course, he is right. He could fire whomever he wants. » Read More
I have written many times over the years about the differences between a corporation and an LLC when it comes to minority owner rights in New Jersey. On many occasions, I have written about the fact that shareholder rights are much more expansive in a corporation, and much more restrictive in an LLC. That all changes of March 1, 2014.
On that date, the existing LLC statute is being repealed, and the oppressed minority shareholder statute is effectively being incorporated into the LLC statute.» Read More
I have written extensively about the difference between the law in New Jersey protecting a minority shareholder in a corporation, and the law protecting a minority member in a limited liability company (LLC). Most lawyers practicing extensively in this area of law have long argued, and believed, that the statute protecting minority shareholders in a corporation from what is considered “shareholder oppression” does not apply to LLC’s (much as we may want it to). » Read More
When you started your company all those years ago, you were certain you didn’t need a Shareholders’ Agreement (or, in the case of an LLC, an Operating Agreement). An attorney would have charged you more than you wanted to pay at the time to draft one (as they usually do), and after all, you trusted your business partner (back then). If an issue between you ever arose, you were confident in your ability to work it out quickly and easily.» Read More