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A Successful Resolution to a Messy 'Divorce'

When shareholding employees leave a closely-held company, the aftermath can sometimes seem more like a messy divorce than an employee separation. One of our clients was faced with just such an issue when a 20-year employee left the company.

When the employee filed a minority shareholder oppression lawsuit a year after leaving, our client called on Tonkon Torp for help. The former employee, who held a minority interest in the company before the stock was bought back upon termination, alleged that the majority shareholder treated him unfairly and deprived him of dividends and other income. At stake were claims for damages and punitive claims, as well as the company's honor.

In spite of many recent court decisions expanding the rights of minority shareholders, Tonkon Torp's litigation team successfully won our client's case with a complete victory at a bench trial. At the essence of the victory was the fact that our client treated the former employee fairly - a vindication of honor as well as an economic victory. After representing our client for 25 years, we understood what was at stake in this case, and it was more than money.

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