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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. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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