Shareholder Disputes

Shareholder and partnership disputes are often highly sensitive and legally complex, and are one of the most common reasons for operational and financial problems at a business. When co-owners disagree on important business decisions, this can cripple the ongoing performance of the organization.

Our attorneys are aware of the fraught emotional issues that often underlie a legal dispute between owners of a closely-held business.  We know that a particular legal solution may not always amount to a practical business solution, and if both elements are not properly addressed, shareholder and partnership disputes can lead to the demise of an otherwise successful company.

Our attorneys have represented minority owners, majority owners, or the company itself, and are able to bring a deep understanding of the law with a strong command of the financial issues that affect businesses and balance sheets.  

We help our clients avoid shareholder or partnership disputes by preparing comprehensive shareholders agreements that clearly describe how the company will be operated and the rights and obligations of each owner and executive, or by preparing buy-sell agreements that describe exit strategy and ownership succession plans, and give roadmaps in the event of a death, divorce or disability.  We have also helped our clients avoid legal problems by assisting them with calling and conducting formal corporate meetings in compliance their bylaws, corporate statutes, and other legal requirements they need to follow to effect key business decisions.  

We have successfully represented business owners and companies in various types of state and federal litigation, including jury trial, bench trials and arbitrations.

Shareholder and partnership issues we have handled include:

  • Minority rights disputes
  • Buyout or owner exit negotiations
  • Waste or mistreatment of company assets
  • Executive compensation issues
  • Self-dealing or fraud claims

Other common situations that can lead to a lawsuit include:   

  • Allegations that a shareholder, director or executive is not fulfilling his or her fiduciary duty.  Such individuals owe the highest duty under the law to the company and must put the interests of the business above their own personal interest.
  • Allegations that shareholders are not being kept up to date on a company’s finances. 
  • The belief by minority shareholders that the majority is not taking their interests into account, and they are being unfairly prejudiced by the actions of majority shareholders.
  • Claims of a breach of shareholder agreements, corporate bylaws, or operating agreements. When contractual obligations are not fulfilled, this can give rise to complaints and serious legal liability for the company and its owners.
  • Claims of conflict of interest. When one owner appears to be acting in their own personal interests instead of the company, or appears have competing interests that are harming the company, this can give rise to disagreements and problems.