In IE Test, LLC v. Carroll, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed when a limited liability company (LLC) can expel a member under a statute authorizing a member’s disassociation for conduct that has made it “not reasonably practicable to carry on” the LLC’s activities. IE Test had three members, two of whom actively ran the business and drew salaries, and a third who played no role in the LLC’s day-to-day affairs. Before an operating agreement was executed, a dispute arose between the two active members and the passive member over the passive member’s compensation. Consequently, no operating agreement was ever signed. The two active members then sought to judicially disassociate the passive member on the statutory ground that the impasse and absence of an operating agreement made it “not reasonably practicable” that he could continue as a member. The trial court granted summary judgment, expelling the passive member, and the Appellate Division affirmed.
Tagged: Limited Liability Companies
Delaware Supreme Court Says that Minority Stockholder Which Manages Company’s Day-to-Day Affairs is not a “Controlling Stockholder” and Confirms that Mandatory Stockholder Approval of Merger Transaction Compels Application of Business Judgment Rule
The Delaware Supreme Court’s recent decision in Corwin v. KKR Financial Holdings LLC makes two important points about corporate governance litigation. First, the court rejected the novel argument that an owner of less than 1% of a company’s stock could be considered a “controlling stockholder” because it managed the company’s day-to-day affairs under a management agreement. Second, the court confirmed that when a transaction has been approved by a majority of the company’s disinterested stockholders, the highly deferential business judgment rule should govern any challenges to the transaction, even if the stockholder vote was statutorily required and not voluntary.
Third Circuit Relaxes Pleading Requirements for Limited Liability Company Defendants and Urges Supreme Court to Redefine Citizenship Rule
Should limited liability companies continue to be treated differently than corporations for diversity-of-citizenship purposes? If a limited liability company’s citizenship continues to be determined by the citizenship of each of its members, how can a plaintiff get past the pleading stage if the identity of one or more members is unknown even after a diligent pre-filing investigation? In a recent precedential opinion, the Third Circuit in Lincoln Benefit Life Company v. AEI Life, LLC answered the latter question for the first time, holding that a plaintiff need not affirmatively allege the citizenship of each member of a defendant limited liability company to survive a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. And in a separate concurrence targeted directly at the U.S. Supreme Court, the Third Circuit urged the Supreme Court to consider the former question and adopt a more practical rule for determining the citizenship of limited liability companies.
On December 16, 2013, in a published decision, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Waste Management of New Jersey, Inc. v. Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority clarified the standard governing interlocutory injunctions in New Jersey state courts. The court held that a trial judge’s denial of an interlocutory injunction based solely on the determination that the plaintiffs were not likely to succeed on the merits constituted reversible error because “the judge mistakenly overlooked his authority to impose interlocutory relief to preserve the parties’ positions and subject matter of the suit[.]” Stated otherwise, Waste Management holds that one can obtain an injunction preserving the status quo even where he or she cannot show a likelihood of success on the merits.
Creditors of Insolvent Delaware Limited Liability Companies Lack Standing to Pursue Derivative Claims
Relying on the plain language of Delaware’s Limited Liability Company Act, the Delaware Supreme Court, in CML V, LLC v. John Bax, et al., recently ruled that creditors of insolvent Delaware limited liability companies lack standing to sue derivatively for their managers’ alleged breach of their fiduciary duties. According to Chief Justice Myron T. Steele, writing for the Court, 6 Del. C. § 18-1002 of Delaware’s Limited Liability Company Act is “unambiguous and limits derivative standing in LLCs exclusively to ‘member[s]’ or ‘assignee[s].’” In so holding, the Court distinguished insolvent LLCs from insolvent corporations, which are subject to derivative claims by creditors, noting that “the General Assembly is free to elect a statutory limitation on derivative standing for LLCs that is different than that for corporations, and thereby preclude creditors from attaining standing.”