Articles Posted in Business Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Frederick Wells, holding that North Highland, Inc. failed present sufficient evidence to support either its claim of conspiracy to breach a fiduciary duty or its claim of misappropriation of a trade secret. North Highland alleged that Wells conspired to breach a fiduciary duty that a former North Highland employee owed to the company and that Wells misappropriated a trade secret. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court order, concluding that North Highland failed to set forth facts establishing that there was a conspiracy or that a trade secret was misappropriated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the record was insufficient to support a conspiracy claim or a misappropriation of a trade secret claim. View "North Highland Inc. v. Jefferson Machine & Tool Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, which affirmed the circuit court’s judgment dismissing a lawsuit filed by Petitioners, four golf professionals, against the City of Madison (the City pursuant to the Wisconsin Fair Dealership Law (the WFDL). Petitioners filed a lawsuit against the City after the City informed them that it would not be renewing operating agreements with Petitioners to oversee clubhouse operations at certain golf courses. Petitioners alleged that the City failed to comply with the WFDL in ending the City’s relationship with them and seeking damages. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the City, concluding that the relationships between Petitioners and the City did not constitute “dealerships” protected by the WFDL. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the WFDL applies to the City; (2) the relationships between Petitioners and the City are “dealerships” under the WFDL; and (3) Petitioners’ lawsuit is not time-barred, and the City is not immune from the lawsuit. View "Benson v. City of Madison" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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