Chicago, IL commercial litigation attorney Terrance Buehler talks about a memorable case involving disputes in a closely held business.
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I can tell you about some closely held business lawsuits that I’ve been involved with. I represent the owner of a precision machine tool operation; she makes prototype parts for the aerospace industry. And she came to me with two problems. She had a partner who had, essentially, sold out all but a small piece of his ownership to her but then became a pest, let’s just say. And so, it took 18 months for me to force him to sell his shares to the corporation and it was acrimonious. But I felt good about being able to do that for her because wholly apart from any money issues it was a terrible drain on my client’s energy and it was just stressful.
The other problem she had, her company worked out of a building that she and her former corporate partner owned 50-50 in a partnership. So it took some doing but I finally forced him to sell his partnership interest to her and got him, basically, separated them.
A number of years ago I helped one partner in a pizza oven factory separate from his partner. I find that a lot of these partnerships and closely held corporate fights, if the companies are successful frequently somebody wants to get more credit for the success that perhaps the other shareholders think that they’re entitled to. And conversely, if it fails, it’s never, you know it’s always somebody else’s fault.
So small businesses seem to me to be sort of a fertile area, let’s say, for dispute, personalities as well as money. So when you say business divorce if you haven’t actually done it, you don’t know correct that statement really is.