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Outside accounting ordered in LLC dissolution

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a judgment in favor of one of the owners of a dissolved LLC, finding the trial court erred when it entered judgment against the other owner personally without ordering an outside accounting of the company's finances.

In Jeff Perkins v. James R. Brown, No. 49A02-0806-CV-569, Jeff Perkins appealed a judgment entered against him for $155,175, which represented 50 percent of the net profits and retained earnings of his and James Brown's executive search firm, Kessler Advisor LLC. When the company was formed, Perkins handled business development, and Brown handled search work, sent invoices to clients, and managed the accounting needs.

Brown objected to Perkins' desire to give greater compensation for business development instead of the even split between their two job duties. Actions were taken to keep him from having access Kessler's business, accounting, and customer information.

Brown filed a complaint against Perkins and Kessler, requesting declaratory judgment as to the ownership percentages, an equitable accounting of the company, and that it is dissolved with the net remaining assets distributed according to the ownership percentages.

Brown submitted evidence at trial that he believed Kessler's total income was nearly $388,000 and that usually 20 percent of that was used to cover operating expenses. Judgment was granted in favor of Brown and against Kessler and Perkins, awarding Perkins and Brown $155,175 each. Perkins filed a motion to correct error, which was denied. Brown's motion to amend the pleadings was granted.

The trial court erred in determining the amount of damages in the dissolution of Kessler without ordering an outside accounting of the company's finances, wrote Judge James Kirsch. There was no evidence presented at trial of what the actual finances of the company were prior to the dissolution, what income it actually received or what the expenses were at this time.

Without any direct evidence, the trial court couldn't accurately determine if Kessler had all the money it was owed from outstanding invoices, who its creditors were, and if 20 percent would have covered all the expenses, wrote the judge. Plus, the trial court was unable to determine whether Perkins made any distributions during this period of time that would have created personal liability.

Asset distribution upon the ending of an LLC must be distributed according to Indiana Code Section 23-18-9-6, but without the outside accounting, the Court of Appeals can't tell the assets were distributed according to the statute.

The appellate court reversed the denial of Perkins' motion to correct error and remanded with instructions for the trial court to order and oversee an outside accounting to determine the proper distribution to Kessler's creditors as well as to Brown and Perkins. The trial court also shall make an appropriate entry of damages due to each party, including any determination of personal liability of Perkins under the Indiana Business Flexibility Act.

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  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.

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