Articles Posted in Business Law

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After Defendant-directors decided to sell their interest in Renaissance Learning, Inc. to Permira Advisers, LLC, Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit, contending that Defendants breached their fiduciary duty to the minority shareholders by selling Renaissance because Defendants “put their personal interest in monetizing their holdings in the Company…ahead of…the Company’s minority shareholders.” The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that the business judgment rule protected the directors’ actions and that Defendants violated no legal duty when they chose to sell Renaissance to Permira. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that the business judgment rule should not be used to dismiss a complaint. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the business judgment rule, which is a substantive law, unequivocally sets forth the terms on which directors may be held liable for their decisions, and as such, a party challenging the decision of a director must plead facts sufficient to plausibly show that he or she is entitled to relief; and (2) Plaintiffs’ complaint did not plead facts sufficient to plausibly show that Defendants’ actions came within the terms of potential liability or that the directors received an improper material benefit at the expense of the minority shareholders. View "Data Key Partners v. Permira Advisers, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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Plaintiff was a minority shareholder in Defendant, a company that served the fantasy football league market. Plaintiff sought specific performance of the stock repurchase agreement that he and the majority shareholder had signed. At issue was whether Defendant should pay only the appraised value for Plaintiff's shares or whether Defendant should pay the stipulated share price, which was approximately six times more, where Defendant delayed terminating Plaintiff's employment until the stipulated price expired. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that this case required balancing of the equities that were due to a specific performance claim and consideration of the potential application of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded for the circuit court's determination of "where the bulk of the equities lie, including an evaluation of what the parties intended when they agreed to the stock repurchase agreement, and whether it should grant specific performance" as Plaintiff requested.View "Beidel v. Sideline Software, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case arose from territory-related disputes between two franchisees, Paul Davis Restoration of S.E. Wisconsin, Inc. (Southeast) and Paul Davis Restoration of Northeast Wisconsin (Northeast). The results of an arbitration process included an award for Southeast against Northeast, which is the name under which EA Green Bay, LLC (Green Bay) did business. Green Bay opposed the subsequent garnishment action on the grounds that the judgment, entered against Northeast only, was unenforceable. The circuit court held that any valid judgment against Northeast was also enforceable against Green Bay. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) if the name under which a person or corporation does business is simply another way to refer to a single legal entity and constitutes no entity distinct from the person or corporation who does business, then a judgment against the "doing business as" or "d/b/a" name is enforceable against the legal entity from which it is indistinct; and (2) therefore, the judgment against Green Bay's d/b/a designation, Northeast, was enforceable against Green Bay.View "Paul Davis Restoration of Se. Wis., Inc. v. Paul Davis Restoration of Ne. Wis." on Justia Law

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Defendants executed guaranty contracts in order to secure financing to run their business operations. Bank subsequently commenced foreclosure proceedings on the business. Afterwards, Bank commenced an action against Defendants seeking payment under the guaranty contracts. Defendants, in response, alleged several counterclaims and affirmative defenses. Bank filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Defendants' counterclaims and affirmative defenses were derivative of the corporation, and therefore Defendants lacked standing to raise them. Bank also asserted that Defendants' affirmative defenses were barred because they were subject to claim preclusion. The circuit court ultimately granted summary judgment to Bank. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Defendants' counterclaims and affirmative defenses were derivative and that they lacked standing to raise them in this action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Bank was entitled to summary judgment dismissing all of Defendants' counterclaims, as each of the counterclaims was derivative; (2) Defendants' affirmative defenses did not defeat Bank's demand under the guaranties for payment; and (3) the circuit court correctly granted summary judgment to Bank because Defendants failed to raise any genuine issue of material fact showing payment was not due. View "Park Bank v. Westburg" on Justia Law

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Robert Johnson filed a summons and complaint against Cintas Corporation, alleging he had automobile liability insurance coverage through Cintas. Johnson subsequently served his summons and complaint upon the registered agent for Cintas Corporation No. 2, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cintas. Johnson then amended his summons and complaint to name Cintas No. 2 as the correct defendant. The circuit court granted default judgment against Cintas No. 2 and denied that Cintas No. 2 was entitled to notice of the amended summons and complaint. The court of appeals reversed, holding that because Johnson's summons and complaint did not name Cintas No. 2 as a defendant, the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over Cintas No. 2, and therefore, the default judgment was void. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that service in this case was fundamentally defective because Johnson failed to name Cintas No. 2 as a defendant in his summons and complaint, and therefore, the circuit court lacked personal jurisdiction over Cintas No. 2, regardless of the manner in which Cintas No. 2 held itself out to the public or to Johnson specifically. View "Johnson v. Cintas Corp. No. 2 " on Justia Law

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Crown Castle USA, Inc. commenced an action against Orion Construction Group, LLC in Pennsylvania seeking monetary damages to satisfy an account receivable. The court entered default judgment against Orion Construction, and Crown Castle filed its foreign judgment in the office of the clerk of court of Outagamie County. The county court commissioner ordered Orion Logistics, LLC, a non-judgment debtor third party, to testify at a supplemental proceeding. The court of appeals affirmed the order. At issue on appeal was whether Orion Logistics could be compelled to testify at the supplemental proceeding under Wis. Stat. 816.06 when it was not a judgment debtor. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 816.06 does not grant a judgment creditor the right to compel a non-judgment debtor third party to testify at supplemental proceedings. View "Crown Castle USA, Inc. v. Orion Logistics, LLC" on Justia Law

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This case required the Supreme Court to answer a threshold question concerning whether an appeal in this insurance company rehabilitation case could go forward. The court of appeals granted the motion of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to dismiss the appeal by the United States. The Commissioner had argued that the appeal should be dismissed either on the grounds that the notice of appeal was fundamentally defective such that the court of appeals had no jurisdiction or on the grounds that the United States had waived its right to appeal issues by failing to appear in the circuit court. The court of appeals concluded that the notice of appeal did not include a signature of an "attorney of record" as Wis. Stat. 802.05 required and dismissed on jurisdictional grounds without deciding the waiver issue. The Supreme Court affirmed on the basis of waiver, holding that the U.S.'s failure to litigate any issues involved in the circuit court precluded the U.S. from pursuing relief in the court of appeals. View "Nickel v. United States" on Justia Law

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This case arose out of an accident that occurred when a truck collided with the Casper family's minivan. The Caspers brought suit against several defendants, including the truck driver, his two employers, an employer CEO, and an employer's excess insurer. The Supreme Court granted review, affirming in part and reversing in part the decision of the court of appeals. The Court (1) affirmed the decision of the appellate court in finding the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion in (a) finding excusable neglect and granting the insurer's motion to enlarge time by seven days to answer the amended complaint, and (b) denying the Caspers' motion for default judgment; (2) reversed the decision of the appellate court affirming the lower court's ruling that a liability insurance policy needs to be delivered or issued for delivery in Wisconsin in order to subject the insurer to a direct action under Wis. Stat. 632.24 and 803.04(2); and (3) affirmed that a corporate officer may be liable for non-intentional torts committed in the scope of his employment but reversed the decision of the appellate court because in this instance, the CEO's actions were too remote to provide a basis for personal liability. View "Casper v. Am. Int'l S. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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This case centered on a dispute between Jack Link and his two sons, Jay and Troy. Jack and Troy filed suit against Jay seeking specific performance of an agreement that would require Jay to surrender his shares in Link Snacks. Jay filed counterclaims alleging Jack and Troy had breached fidicuiary duties owed to Jay by squeezing Jay out of Link Snacks to buy Jay's shares. The circuit court (1) granted specific enforcement of the agreement; (2) concluded that Jay had not been oppressed by Jack and Troy; and (3) remitted the jury's punitive damages award against Jack for breaching fiduciary duties to Jay. The court of appeals granted Jack partial dismissal of Jay's appeal and reversed the circuit court order remitting the punitive damages award against Jack. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the circuit court erred in remitting the award of punitive damages against Jack; (2) the court of appeals properly rejected Jay's oppression claim; and (3) Jay did not, under the benefit-estoppel doctrine, waive his right to appeal the circuit court's decision to limit the evidence Jay could present regarding his theory of damages relating to his breach of fiduciary duty claims. Remanded. View "Link Snacks, Inc. v. Link " on Justia Law

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Court-appointed receiver Michael Polsky filed a complaint against defendants Daniel Virnich and Jack Moores, owners and officers of Communications Products, for breach of their fiduciary duties to the corporation after Communications Products defaulted on a loan to its largest creditor. The Supreme Court accepted review but split three to three. On return to the court of appeals, the judgment was reversed. Polsky filed a petition to review, which the Supreme Court granted. The Court then affirmed the court of appeals. The current action involved Polsky's motion to disqualify Justice Roggensack, asserting that because Justice Roggensack had not participated in the case when it was previously certified to the Court and when the Court's decision remanded the matter to the court of appeals, she should have been disqualified from participation in the decision to affirm the court of appeals. The Supreme Court denied Polsky's motion, holding (1) the Court does not have the power to remove a justice from participating in an individual proceeding, on a case-by-case basis, and (2) due process is provided by the decisions of the individual justices who participate in the cases presented to the court. View "Polsky v. Virnich" on Justia Law