Articles Posted in Business Law

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In 2000, doctors Strohmyer, Naegele, and Mantler formed Papillion Family Medicine, P.C. (PFM). In 2013, Strohmyer provided notice that he was leaving PFM to start his own medical practice. Strohmyer then sued PFM, Naegele, and Mantler (collectively, Defendants), alleging that Defendants failed to “buy out” Strohmyer and pay associated director fees following his departure and improperly calculated the value of PFM’s stock, assets, and goodwill. Defendants counterclaimed. The district court found (1) PFM was not a corporation under the laws of Nebraska; (2) the buyout clause was so ambiguous as to be unenforceable; (3) the value of Strohmyer’s stock was $104,200; (4) Strohmyer was due $9,389 in unpaid compensation; and (5) Strohmyer damaged PFM in the amount of $30,673. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the district court (1) did not err in its valuation of Strohmyer’s shares, finding that PFM had no goodwill for which Strohmyer was entitled to compensation, and failing to award compensation for director fees and salary; but (2) erred in finding that Strohmyer breached a fiduciary duty by continuing to accept Medicaid patients, in holding Strohmyer liable for a physical assistant’s continuing treatment of Medicaid patients, and in its calculation of damages based on those claims. View "Strohmyer v. Papillion Family Medicine" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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ACI Worldwide Corp. sued Baldwin Hackett & Meeks, Inc., its cofounders, and other company principals (collectively, BHMI), alleging that BHMI misappropriated its trade secrets. BHMI counterclaimed, alleging that ACI tortiously interfered with a business relationship and violated provisions of Nbraska’s unlawful restraint of trade statutes. In 2014, a jury found against ACI on its misappropriation claim. In 2015, a jury found in favor of BHMI on all of its counterclaims. ACI then filed posttrial motions to vacate the jury’s judgments, reopen the evidence, and grant a new trial on the basis that ACI had discovered new evidence. The district court overruled ACI’s posttrial motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in overruling ACI’s motion to vacate the 2014 and 2015 judgments; and (2) did not abuse its discretion in awarding BHMI $2,732,962.50 in attorney fees. View "ACI Worldwide Corp. v. Baldwin Hackett & Meeks, Inc." on Justia Law

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Janice M. Hinrichsen, Inc. (JMH) had a judgment against Risk Assessment and Management, Inc. (RAM) in a previous action. In the instant action brought under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA), JMH alleged that RAM had fraudulently transferred certain assets to Messersmith Ventures, LLC. The district court entered judgment in favor of JMH in the amount of $250. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court did not err when it implicitly found that, under the UFTA, a fraudulent transfer of assets had occurred; and (2) the monetary judgment awarded by the district court was not appropriate relief under the UFTA in this case, as the court instead should have ordered that MJH may levy execution on the assets that were transferred to Messersmith Ventures or the proceeds of such assets. View "Janice M. Hinrichsen Inc. v. Messersmith Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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Ginger Cove Common Area Company sued Scott Wiekhorst for unpaid assessments. Wiekhorst filed a counterclaim alleging that Ginger Cover violated its fiduciary duty. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment against Wiekhorst. Wiekhorst appealed, challenging an order entered two months earlier that overruled his motion to vacate or set aside an order of sanctions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Wiekhorst properly waited until final judgment to appeal; but (2) because Wiekhorst failed to present a record to support his assigned error, this Court affirms the lower court’s decision regarding that error. View "Ginger Cove Common Area Co. v. Wiekhorst" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, as an individual and as an assignee, brought this action pro se to recover for wrongs allegedly committed against the assignor, a limited liability corporation (LLC). The district court dismissed the action, concluding (1) Plaintiff was attempting to litigate “the claim of another which has merely been assigned to him” and that Plaintiff was therefore engaging in the unauthorized practice of law because an attorney is required when the action is derived from a wrong to an LLC; and (2) therefore, the pleadings were a nullity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an assignment of a distinct business entity’s cause of action to an assignee who then brings such suit requires that the assignee must be represented by counsel and cannot bring such action pro se; (2) by bringing the assigned claim, Plaintiff engaged in the unauthorized practice of law; and (3) therefore, Plaintiff’s filings were a nullity as a matter of law. View "Zapata v. McHugh" on Justia Law

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A holdover franchisee is a franchisee who receives the benefits of an expired franchise agreement but fails to make payments to the franchisor per the agreement. Donut Holdings, Inc. (DHI) was the Nebraska parent corporation of LaMar’s Donuts International, Inc. (LaMar’s). LaMar’s was a franchise company with nine franchisees, including one in Springfield Missouri that was purchased by Risberg Stores, LLC, a Missouri entity, in 2002. At the time of the purchase, the store was operating under the terms of a 1994 franchise agreement entered into by Risberg Store’s predecessor. DHI filed a claim against Risberg Stores for royalty and marketing fees accruing after June 2009. Risberg Stores argued that it did not owe DHI fees because the parties’ written agreement ended in 2004. The district court ruled in favor of Risberg Stores, concluding that the franchise agreement ended in June 2009 and that DHI was not entitled to any payments thereafter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) DHI, the franchisor, did not have a breach of contract claim against Risberg Stores, the holdover franchisee; and (2) therefore, DHI was not entitled to fees under the contract. View "Donut Holdings, Inc. v. Risberg" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Contracts

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This appeal was the third appeal from a judicial dissociation of four partners from a family agricultural partnership. The partnership had assets consisting primarily of real estate. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the district court, in recalculating the buyout distributions, correctly implemented the Court’s mandate from the second appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment, holding that the district court did not err in (1) excluding certain evidence; (2) calculating the buyout distribution on remand; and (3) ordering that such distributions be paid to the clerk of the district court. View "Robertson v. Jacobs Cattle Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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DMK Biodiesel, LLC and Lanoha RVBF, LLC (collectively, Plaintiffs) brought an action against Renewable Fuels Technology, LLC and several individual defendants (collectively, Defendants), alleging that Defendants violated violated Neb. Rev. Stat. 8-1118(1) by selling a security by means of an untrue statement of material fact. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants, acting in concert as members and the manager of Republican Valley Biofuels, LLC (RVBF), made false oral representations and omissions in connection with RVBF and a proposed biodiesel facility that induced their investment. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed because, in granting the motion to dismiss, the district court considered matters outside the pleadings without conducting an evidentiary hearing. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in entering summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff’s section 8-1118(1) claim because there remained genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "DMK Biodiesel, LLC v. McCoy" on Justia Law

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This case involved an intrachurch dispute between the members of Bethel Lutheran Church (Bethel), a nonprofit corporation organized under Nebraska law. The Bethel congregation voted by at least two-third majority vote to disaffiliate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and instead sought to affiliate with the Lutheran Congregation in Mission for Christ. Bethel’s governing documents were subsequently amended, including its constitution. The minority members filed suit seeking a declaration that the majority members’ efforts in changing affiliation and adopting new corporate governance documents were prohibited and void because they were not given permission to do so by the ELCA. The district court dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that this case did not involve a doctrinal dispute but, rather, simply involved the interpretation and application of church governance documents and could be decided using neutral principles of law. Remanded. View "Aldrich v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Marion’s Quality Services, Inc. was a Nebraska corporation doing business as It’s a Kidz World Child Care Center (Center) and as Deb’s Learning Place Family Child Care Home II (Home). In 2012, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), a state agency responsible for the enforcement of the Child Care Licensing Act, revoked Marion’s licenses to operate the Center and the Home. Marion’s submitted an administrative appeal, and the cases were consolidated. After an administrative appeal hearing, DHHS upheld the revocation of the license for the Home but reversed the revocation of the Center’s license. In lieu of revocation of the license, DHHS imposed an alternative penalty in the form of additional probation and a civil penalty. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court’s ruling upholding DHHS’ findings regarding the Center’s license was supported by competent evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable; and (2) the district court’s ruling upholding DHHS’ findings regarding the Home’s license was supported by competent evidence, conformed to the law, and was not arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise unreasonable. View "Marion’s Quality Servs., Inc. v. Neb. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs." on Justia Law