Court finds man abandoned shareholder derivative claim

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Because a man “expressly and unambiguously” abandoned his shareholder derivative claim when responding to a court demand to specify his legal claims, he cannot now assert that claim on appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Don Morris and Randy Coakes sued BioSafe Engineering in March 2010 arguing they had equitable interests and contractual rights in BioSafe and they could bring a shareholder derivative action. Morris claimed he helped create and owned BioSafe, but the articles of organization for the company filed with the secretary of state indicate that Brad Crain and Richard Redpath were the sole members.

The trial court ordered Morris and Coakes to file with the court a document stating the legal theories they assert against the defendants; the document indicated that their theories of recovery were breach of contract, unjust enrichment and estoppel. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of BioSafe and other defendants.

The case made it to the Court of Appeals in 2012 and the judges reversed summary judgment, rejecting the procedure employed by the trial court. BioSafe filed another motion for summary judgment, which was granted, leading to the instant appeal.

Morris argued that his claims against the company include a shareholder derivative action, but the Court of Appeals rejected his argument.

“In sum, Morris expressly and unambiguously abandoned his shareholder derivative claim in August of 2011 when, in response to the trial court’s demand that he specify his legal claims, Morris admitted to the court that his claims were for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and equitable estoppel. This court acknowledged Morris’ abandonment of his shareholder derivative claim in Morris I, and nothing in our prior opinion nullified Morris’ express admission to the trial court. Both the trial court and BioSafe relied on and had the right to rely on Morris’ admission,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Don Morris v. Biosafe Engineering, LLC, 32A04-1306-PL-321.

“Morris was, therefore, estopped from asserting a claim he had abandoned. Thus, Morris’ exclusive theory on appeal — that the trial court erred when it entered summary judgment because he has a legitimate shareholder derivative claim against BioSafe — is not grounds to deny
BioSafe’s motion for summary judgment.”



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues