Justia Business Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Minnesota Supreme Court
Aaron Carlson Corp. v. Cohen
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court concluding that a receiver should bring a piercing-the-corporate-veil claim against the shareholders of the corporate entity that the receiver controls, holding that the receiver in this case did not have the power to bring the veil-piercing claims.Aaron Carlson Corporation, one of the creditors of the now-defunct LSI Corporation of America, Inc. (LSI), sought to pierce the LSI corporate veil and recover from Respondents. The district court concluded that the corporation's claims should have been brought by a receiver that had been appointed in a lawsuit that Respondents had filed against LSI. In that suit, the receiver had sold LSI's assets and repaid some of LSI's creditors. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the receiver did not have the power to bring veil-piercing claims; and (2) therefore, the corporation's claims against the shareholders did not represent an impermissible collateral attack on the receivership and were not barred by res judicata. View "Aaron Carlson Corp. v. Cohen" on Justia Law
In re Medtronic, Inc. Shareholder Litigation
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the court of appeals’ reversal of the district court’s grant of Company’s motion to dismiss Shareholder’s class action challenge to a merger transaction. The district court concluded (1) some claims were derivative, rather than direct, and were therefore subject to the demand and pleading requirements of Minn. R. Civ. P. 23.09; and (2) Shareholder failed to comply with Rule 23.09. The court of appeals reversed with the exception of one claim, concluding that most of the claims were direct, and therefore, Rule 23.09 did not apply. The Supreme Court clarified the test for distinguishing between direct and derivative claims and held that the district court did not err in dismissing some claims but erred in dismissing others. View "In re Medtronic, Inc. Shareholder Litigation" on Justia Law
Lo v. Commissioner of Revenue
In 1999, Yik Lo created H.K.D. Lo, Inc. Yik and his wife, Yau Lo, operated several restaurants through H.K.D., the last of which they sold in 2005. In approximately 2004, Yik and Yau’s son, Kee Lo, opened a restaurant called Jun Bo that Kee operated through H.K.D. In 2011, Yik and Yau formally dissolved H.K.D. In 2012, the Commissioner of Revenue assessed Yik personally liable for sales taxes owed by H.K.D. in the amount of $91,019. Yik appealed. The tax court concluded that Yik was not personally liable for H.K.D.’s unpaid tax debt because Yik was not a person who had “control of, supervision of, or responsibility for” filing H.K.D.’s tax returns or paying H.K.D.’s taxes. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Yik funded H.K.D., signed checks on its behalf, had a fifty percent stake in the company, and delegated day-to-day control of the business to someone else, Yik had control over H.K.D.’s tax obligations, despite the fact that Kee demanded and exercised authority over Jun Bo’s daily operations. View "Lo v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law
Madison Equities, Inc. v. Crockarell
Madison Equities, Inc. brought an action against Robert Crockarell for repayment of an overdue promissory note. Crockarell filed a separate action against Madison Equities and others alleging that Madison Equities filed suit against Crockarell on the note to interfere with Crockarell’s business interests. The district court granted summary judgment to Madison Equities on the promissory note claim but ordered a stay of entry of judgment pending meditation in Crockarell’s business-related action. Madison Equities petitioned the court of appeals for a writ of mandamus to compel the district court to vacate the stay. The court of appeals denied the petition. The Supreme Court reversed and issued a writ of mandamus ordering the district court to vacate the stay, holding that Madison Equities was entitled to the writ where the district court did not have authority to order the stay, Madison Equities suffer a public harm that was specifically injurious to it, and Madison Equities did not have any other adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. View "Madison Equities, Inc. v. Crockarell" on Justia Law
Stevens v. Comm’r of Revenue
Relator challenged several personal liability assessments that the Commissioner of Revenue made against him based on unpaid petroleum and sales taxes owed by Twin Cities Avanti Stores, LLC (Avanti). On appeal, Relator asserted that the tax court erred by granting summary judgment to the Commissioner because (1) there were disputed, material questions of fact regarding his personal liability for the unpaid petroleum and sales taxes, and (2) the court abused its discretion in not allowing additional discovery to explore an estoppel defense. The Supreme Court reversed the tax court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner and remanded for a trial, holding that there was a material dispute of fact whether Relator had the requisite control over the company's finances to be held personally liable for Avanti's tax liability. View "Stevens v. Comm'r of Revenue" on Justia Law
U. S. Bank N. A. v. Cold Spring Granite Co.
Appellants were trustees of eight family trusts. After stock of closely-held corporation belonging to the trusts was fractionalized in a reverse stock split and Appellants were forced to accept cash in exchange for their shares, Appellants brought suit against the corporation. The district court dismissed all of Appellants' claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the valuation of the stock was not the product of common law fraud; (2) Minn. Stat. 302A.471 does not provide for dissenters' rights in the event of a reverse stock split; (3) Appellants were not entitled to equitable relief under Minn. Stat. 302A.751 because the corporation did not frustrate Appellants' reasonable expectations as shareholders; (4) merely conducting an involuntary redemption of Appellants' stock at a fair price, without more, did not constitute a breach of fiduciary duty; and (5) the district court did not err in determining the fair value of Appellants' stock when it adopted a valuation that relied in part on asset value.
Frederick Farms, Inc. v. County of Olmsted
In 2008, Olmsted County changed the property tax classification of farmland owned by Frederick Farms from agricultural-homestead to agricultural-nonhomestead property. The tax court denied Frederick Farms' petition to change the classification of the property back to agricultural homestead for taxes payable in 2009 and later. Frederick Farms appealed, arguing that it was operating a joint family farm venture with its sole shareholder, James Frederick, and that the County must classify the property as agricultural homestead because it was used by the joint family farm venture. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the tax court, concluding (1) that a joint family farm venture must own or lease, and not merely use, the property in order for a participant of the joint family farm venture to claim an agricultural-homestead classification; and (2) because the family farm corporation, not the joint family farm venture, owned the land in question, Frederick Farms was not entitled to claim an agricultural-homestead classification as a participant in a joint family farm venture.