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Appeals court reverses summary judgment in business ownership dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday reversed summary judgment in favor of defendants in a dispute involving ownership of a business.

A panel unanimously reversed an order by Hendricks Circuit Judge Jeffrey V. Boles that granted summary judgment in Don Morris and Randy Coakes v. Brad Crain, Richard Redpath, Biosafe Engineering, LLC, Steven Biesecker, Tyler Johnson, Brandon Ross and Chris Sollars, No. 32C01-1003-PL-414.

Appeals Court Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote in a unanimous opinion that because the court “ordered the parties to implement a procedure inconsistent with summary judgment proceedings, summary judgment was improvidently granted.”

Boles issued an order dismissing several of the defendants from the lawsuit and ordering the remaining parties to submit documents within 10 days. Plaintiffs were ordered to state legal theories asserted against the defendants; defendants were ordered to detail the legal elements of the plaintiffs’ theories they assert had not been met.

Don Morris and Randy Coakes sued after selling a biological effluent destruction systems products company in which they had interest, along with other officials who had lesser interests. The suit was filed after Morris was fired by Steven Biesecker.

The plaintiffs alleged they had equitable interests and contractual rights in BioSafe Engineering and standing to bring a shareholder derivative action that would include seeking appointment of a receiver, an accounting and disgorgement of funds, and BioSafe’s dissolution.

The defendants denied that Richard Redpath and Brad Crain created a false document, made false representations, brought about the plaintiff’s ouster, diverted funds, or met with Morris to discuss ownership participation. The defendants also denied that Morris and Coakes held an equitable interest or that they had standing to bring a shareholder derivative claim.

 

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