ILNews

Court rules on LLC matter of first impression

Back to TopE-mailPrint

The Indiana Court of Appeals had to decide for the first time whether a company owes a continuing fiduciary duty to a former shareholder or member to accurately report the company's fiscal results to the IRS for a year in which the former member held stock or was still a member of the limited liability company.

In Mike A. Abdalla, et al. v. Raed I. and Hani I. Qadorh-Zadin, No. 49A04-0812-CV-707, the appellate court noted LLCs weren't available in Indiana until 1993, so there is little caselaw regarding them and even less caselaw concerning fiduciary duties in the LLC context.

The Qadorh-Zadins sold in August 2006 their membership interest in various LLCs and their shares in Q Realty, which they owned with the Abdallas. In 2007, the Qadorh-Zadins received their Schedule K-1s and wanted the companies' former accountant to review them because they believed there were discrepancies. The Qadorh-Zidans also requested to see the companies' books for the year in question. The Abdallas refused, which led to the Qadorh-Zidans filing a complaint alleging breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and request for declaratory relief to inspect the books.

The trial court denied the Abdallas' motion for summary judgment and certified the case for interlocutory appeal.

The Abdallas claimed because the Qadorh-Zadins were no longer members or stockholders of the companies, they can't be allowed to see the books and they owe no fiduciary duty to the Qadohr-Zadins.

The Court of Appeals found Thompson v. Central Ohio Cellular, Inc. f.k.a. Cellwave, Inc., et al., 639 N.E.2d 462 (Ohio Ct. App. 1994), to be instructive. The Ohio court ruled Cellwave owed a fiduciary duty to Thompson for the time when Thompson was still a stockholder in the company.

In the instant case, the appellate court ruled that because the tax incurring actions happened during the existence of the fiduciary relationship, a fiduciary duty is owed regardless as to when the tax returns were actually completed, wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

"To hold otherwise would give the Abdallas the freedom to allocate tax burdens to the Zidans and retain tax benefits for themselves without allowing the Zidans any recourse to verify or rectify this allocation," she wrote.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the Abdallas that when the Qadorh-Zidans asked to review the companies' records, they were no longer members or shareholders; however, the Qadorh-Zidans wanted financial information covering only the period when they were still members or shareholders.

"Although the Zidans' request might inconvenience the Abdallas, this inspection is to the greater benefit of the companies and all parties. Accordingly, we conclude that the Zidans should be allowed limited access to the records, as this request covers a time while the Zidans had an interest in the companies," she wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT