In a LLC membership dispute case concerning breach of fiduciary duties, membership oppression, conversion, and aiding and abetting conversion of their client’s membership interest, Attorneys Phillip E. Seltzer and Shawn Grinnen successfully obtained, via settlement, substantially more than the appraised fair-market value of their client’s membership interest in the LLC.
As part of the settlement, the client received $515,000:
- $320,000 representing the appraised fair-market value of the client’s membership interest.
- Plus an additional $195,000 representing a compromise on the remaining damage claims against the controlling LLC member and certain other individuals who allegedly aided and abetted the wrongful conduct of the controlling members.
Based on the evidence developed in discovery, the Lipson, Neilson team argued that the Client’s LCC membership interest had essentially been converted. The nature, character and misconduct of the controlling members tortious conduct had essentially denied all meaningful rights in the LCC by the Client – rights that are specifically deemed “personal property” under the LCC Act. Under Michigan law, only personal property (as opposed to intangible business interests) can be the subject of a conversion claim.
By creatively arguing that their client’s LLC membership interest had been wrongfully converted, attorneys Seltzer and Grinnen convincingly demonstrated that the controlling members and those that allegedly aided and abetted it had a strong likelihood of being found liable for not only paying the $320,000 value for the membership interest, but also the potential for treble damages under Michigan’s conversion statute – a statute that also allows for recoupment of attorney fees “in addition to any other right or remedy the person may have at law or otherwise.”
With Summary Disposition motions pending and fearing the Court was about to find the controlling members and the other individual defendants liable for $320,000 in damages plus potential trebling and attorney fees, the defendants agreed to settle for $515,000 in exchange for a final dismissal of the case. The creative use of the conversion statute immeasurably made the case stronger for the client, who was overwhelmingly satisfied for obtaining a resolution that was well in excess of the appraised fair-market value of his membership interest in the LLC Company.
Phillip E. Seltzer: email@example.com
Shawn Grinnen: firstname.lastname@example.org