Agency & Partnership

Professor L. Carson

pfloyd@mail.law.utexas.edu

512-232-1355

 

 

I.     Introduction to Firms

 

A.        Intro

1.    Agency deals with representation and involves the principal and the agent.  The principal appoints someone known as the agent who in turn represents the principal in dealings with a 3rd party. 

2.    The Restatement 3rd of Agency, § 1.01 defines agency as:

 

[T]he fiduciary relationship that arises when on person (the “principal”) manifests consent to another person (the “agent”) that the agent shall act on the principal’s behalf and subject to the principal’s control, and the agent consents so to act

 

3.    Once a fiduciary relationship is established you have several duties - the failure of which may lead to liability

4.    The fiduciary has an obligation to act for the agent

5.    There is a strict duty of loyalty, a duty of care, a strict duty not to profit secretly, etc…

 

B.    The Types of Firms

       1.    Sole Proprietorships

               a.    This is a business owned by a single individual

b.         The business has no legal existence independent of the proprietor

c.         There is no entity which can sue or be sued, or which can shield the proprietor from personal liability for debts arising out of the business

d.         Sole proprietorships are governed by general state laws and regulations, and general principles of agency and employment law when hiring agents or EEs

e.    A sole proprietorship has no separate tax status, rather it is treated as an extension of the owner

f.     This is the simplest type of firm – there are no formalities.  There are advantages to this simplicity

g.    However, choosing one of the other options may not add much to your burden

 

       2.    Partnerships

a.    The Revised Uniform Partnership Act of 1997 defines partnership as:

“[A]n association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners a business for profit…”

b.    According to Section 201 of the RUPA of 1997, a partnership is an entity distinct from its partners

c.    Section 202 of the RUPA of 1997 discusses the formation of partnerships

i.      According to Section 202 no formalities are required to form a partnership

ii.     There is no filing requirement; the agreement does not have to be in writing; etc…

iii.    The partnership may be formed inadvertently, w/out the intent of the parties

iii.    Section 202(c) sets forth factors to determine whether a partnership has been formed

d.    Partnerships are generally governed by agreement but if there is no agreement state partnership statutes provide default rules.

i.      According to default rules, absent an agreement to the contrary all partners have equal management authority and are entitled to share equally in the profits and losses of the enterprise (after a return of each partner’s initial contribution).

e.    One of biggest drawbacks of a partnership is that all partners have unlimited personal liability for all debts of the partnership (i.e., not only is the partnership liable but the partners are also liable as individuals)

f.     Another drawback is that a partnership is an association of persons and this sometimes poses problems when one or more persons w/draw from the partnership

i.      This problem is usually solved by dissolution provisions in the partnership agreement

                      g.    The two principles of a partnership are:

                             i.      The sharing of profits

                             ii.     The sharing of burdens

 

       3.    Limited Partnerships

a.         The Uniform Limited Partnership Act (“ULPA”) defines a limited partnership as:

A partnership formed by two or more person under the laws of the state and having one or more general partner and one or more limited partners

 

b.    The general partner has unlimited liability – they may be held personally liable for acts of partnership

c.    Article 2 of the ULPA sets forth the formalities for the creation of a limited partnership

i.      A limited partnership is formed by filing a certificate of limited partnership with appropriate state officials

a.    The certificate must set for the name of the limited partnership (the name must contain the words “limited partnership” without abbreviation)

b.     See Section 201 for other requirements of certificate

d.    Limited partnerships are mainly governed by the partnership agreement

e.    The limited partnership is taxed as a partnership (unless partners elect to be taxed as a corp.) and is subject to many of the same rules as a general partnership

f.     Management of limited partnership is vested in general partners – limited partners have not management authority.

g.    Limited partners do not have the unlimited personal liability of general partners

h.    Section 303 of the ULPA discusses a limited partnerships liability to third parties

i.      Section 702 of the ULPA allows assignment of partnership interest (i.e., free transferability)

j.      Under Section 801, a limited partnership does not have perpetual existence

 

       4.    Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

a.    An LLP is a general partnership where all partners have limited liability as to certain partnership debts

b.    An application must be filed with the appropriate state official (this is a procedural difference).  Another formality is that you must use the LLP designation in your name to put others on notice

c.    Most significant operational difference is that partners in LLPs have no liability for certain debts of the entity beyond their capital contribution

d.    All partners have equal management authority and equal rights to share in profits and losses unless otherwise agreed

 

 

5.    Limited Liability Limited Partnerships (LLLPs)

a.    General partners in an LLLP have the same protections against personal liability that general partners in an LLP have

b.    W/ the exception of the registration requirement (requiring indication in its name that it is an LLLP) and the change in the personal liability of the general partners, an LLLP is virtually indistinguishable from a limited partnership

 

6.    Limited Liability Corporations

a.    Generally speaking an LLC is an entity formed by filing a very brief document usually referred to as articles of formation

b.    The LLC is governed by agreement or default rules contained in relevant state s tatutes

c.    An LLC is a very flexible form of enterprise – flexibility is more characteristic of the partnership form rather than the corporate form

d.    The biggest advantage to the LLC when compared to a general partnership is that members in an LLC do not have unlimited personal liability

 

7.    Corporations

a.    A corporation is formed by filing articles of incorporation

b.    The equity owners of a corp. are the shareholders

i.       All shareholders have limited liability for corporate debt

c.    For the most part, the day-to-day decisions of a corp. are made by the Board of Directors

d.    The positive aspect of corps. is that there is no personal liability

e.    Negative aspect of corporations is that they are subject to double taxation – corporate tax for income to corp. and regular income tax for profits from stock.  This is only for C Corporations with specific number of employee’s.

 

               8.    Problem 1 - Handout

                      See handout and answer attached to handout

 

       C.    The Firm and Its Agents and Servants

1.        Intro

a.    According the Restatement agency is the fiduciary relation, which results from the manifestation of consent by one person to another that the other shall act on his behalf and subject to his control, and consent by the other so to act.

       i.      The principal is the one for whom the action is to be taken

       ii.     The agent is the one who is to act

a.    EX:  The Dean of STCL is an agent of the school but not a servant.

iii.    An agent has some authority to bind a principal and a servant does not.

iv.    The transfer of $ is not required to establish that one is an agent

v.     An agency relationship does not have to be express

vi.    There is a lot of gray area  - it is difficult to draw the line b/w being an agent and not being an agent

b.    Also according to the Restatement, all masters are principals but not all principals are masters and all servants are agents but not all agents are servants

c.     According to the Restatement

i.      A master is a principal who employs an agent to perform service in his affairs and who controls or has the right to control the physical conduct of the other in the performance of the service

ii.     A servant is an agent employed by a master to perform service in his affairs whose physical conduct in the performance of the service is controlled or is subject to the right to control by the master

iii.    An independent contractor is a person who contracts with another to do something for him but who is not controlled by the other nor subject to the other’s right to control w/respect to his physical conduct in the performance of the undertaking. He may or may not be an agent.

d.    Under the principal of respondeat superior if the servant commits a tortious act w/in the course and scope of their employment the master will be held liable

e.     There are three basic relationships b/w principals and agent

i.           Principal – Agent

ii.     Principal – 3rd Party

iii.    Agent – 3rd Party

 

2.    Problem 1.1 – “Is There a Principal-Agent Relationship”

While swimming behind a boat in Peaceful Valley Lake in Missouri, Bunting died of acute carbon monoxide poisoning.  The boat’s motor was manufactured by Mercury Marine, Inc. Under Missouri law, Mercury Marine may be sued either in the county in which the accident happened, or in any other county in which it “keeps an office or agent for the transaction its usual and customary business.”  Mercury Marine has no office in St. Louis but Dealer sells its boat motors in that city.  Mercury Marine appointed Dealer as its “authorized dealer for the retail, sale, display, and servicing” of its products.  Under the agreement b/w them:

(a)   MM sells its products to Dealer for resale.  Dealer is free to sell products made by other manufacturers.

(b)   Dealer gives MM’s warranty to all buyers of MM products.

(c)   Dealer performs warranty service of MM products.  MM honors warranty claims “made by purchaser through Dealer” and reimburses Dealer for warranty service it performs “on behalf of MM.”

Is Dealer MM’s agent for the purposes of determining venue?

 

Answer to Problem 1.1

a.    To determine if there is a principal-agent relationship you must look to three factors: (§§ 12-14 of Restatement (Second) of Agency)

               i.      The agent’s power to alter the legal relationship of the principal,

       ii.     The agent’s duty to act primarily for the benefit of the principal, and

       iii.    The principal’s right to control the agent

b.    You must also look to the jurisdiction to determine if these factors are exclusive or not.  If they are exclusive and one factor cannot be established then there is not principal-agent relationship

c.    Under Koehr, which follows the approach that the factors are exclusive you could conclude that there was no principal-agent relationship, b/c the 2nd factor does not exist

i.      The relationship between Mercury Manufacturer and the Dealer is one of buyer and seller and not agent-principal because Dealer was not working primarily for the benefit of Mercury

               ii.     Generally retail dealers are not agent-principal relationships.

iii.    Note, however, that if dealer buys them from manufacturer and never gets title and is selling on behalf of dealer then this is agent-principal relationship

d.     Some may argue that even under Green it would be difficult

e.    Essentially, a manufacturer/retailer relationship does not constitute an agency relationship, unless there is an exclusive agreement between the manufacturer and the retailer. Restatement (Second) of Agency § 14J provides one who receives goods from another for resale to a third person is not thereby the other’s agent in the transaction.  Here, the agreement between the parties expressly states that there is not an exclusive selling arrangement.

f.     In Bunting v. Koehr, the Supreme Court of Missouri held that boat motor dealer was not agent of the manufacturer for purposes of establishing venue in products liability action in the county in which the dealer was located.

 

3.    Green v. H&R Block, Inc. (Part 1)

a.    Customer brought class action against tax preparation and refund service arising from service's failure to disclose its financial stakes in the portion of rapid refund program through which customers obtained bank loans secured by anticipated refunds, alleging breach of fiduciary duty.

b.    Part 1 of this case dealt with whether there was a principal agent relationship

c.    After grant of writ of certiorari, the Court of Appeals held that: genuine issues of material fact as to existence of agency relationship precluded summary judgment

Class Notes

a.    A fundamental principal is that the agent cannot benefit from the relationship by any means not expressly agreed upon

b.    This places a duty on the agent to disclose

c.    Here, H&R did not disclose certain loan arrangements it had with other banks

d.    H&R moved to dismiss on the grounds that no principal-agent relationship existed and as such it had not duty to disclose

e.    There are three factors that must be considered when determining whether a principal-agent relationship exists:

       i.      The agent’s power to alter the legal relations of the principal,

       ii.     The agent’s duty to act primarily for the benefit of the principal, and

       iii.    The principal’s right to control the agent

f.     There are two approaches to the elements:

i.      Some courts hold that they are significant but not exclusive (Green approach)

       ii.     Other courts hold that these factors are exclusive (Koehr approach)

               iii.    The trend is that they are significant but not exclusive

 

               4.    Problem 1.2 – Fiduciary Duty of Agent

ABC Corp. sold mobile homes and developed mobile home parks.  ABC employed Agent, a licensed real estate broker, to acquire land for development as mobile home parks, at a weekly salary of $125.  Agent told ABC that Parkacre was available for purchase. ABC asked Agent to purchase the land as a “straw man,” and then to convey the land to ABC.  Agent told ABC that the land would cost $30k, and ABC gave Agent that amount.

Unknown to ABC, Agent had an interest in Parkacre.  Before ABC had employed him, Agent had paid $1k for an option to buy Parkacre for $15k.  When ABC gave Agent the $30k he asked for, Agent exercised his option to buy Parkacre.  Agent then used $14k of the $30k to complete the purchase, and kept the remaining $16k.

ABC has now sued Agent for breach of fiduciary duty, asking that Agent be required to give ABC the entire $15k profit on the transaction.  Agent argues that ABC’s sole remedy is to rescind the transaction – return Parkacre in exchange for the $30k purchase price.

 

                      Answer to Problem 1.2

a.    Here, the principal was willing to pay a certain price, so the D argued that the principal was not harmed b/c they were willing to pay the purchase price

b.    The court did not agree and ruled in favor of the principal b/c the agent impliedly stated that it was the best/lowest price, when it was not

a.         Here we have the principals of the Gussin case - if the agent is to receive any benefit from a transaction in which he is serving his principal, the agent must fully disclose any interest he has in the transaction and receive the consent of his principal to proceed, even if the principal ultimately was to benefit from the transactions

e.         Pursuant to Section 387 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency an agent is subject to a duty to his principal to act solely for the benefit of the principal in all matters connected with his agency and pursuant to Section 388 an agent has a duty to account for all profits arising out of the principal agent relationship

f.           § 389 --

e.    It is public policy to keep the agent focused on the business of the principal!!!

f.     Defosses v. Notis

i.      Mobile home park developer brought action against real estate broker, hired to purchase land for development, to recover difference between amount given to the broker for purchase of the land and the amount actually paid by the broker. The Superior Court entered judgment in favor of developer for such difference and awarded broker a commission and both parties appealed.

iii.    The Supreme Judicial Court held that broker, who had been hired at a weekly salary to obtain land for developer, was not entitled to a commission; that broker and developer were in a principal and agent relationship; that broker had breached his fiduciary duty to the developer; that developer was entitled to recover difference between the actual purchase price and the amount entrusted to the broker, even though broker had allegedly acquired a $1,000 interest in the land prior to entering into the agency relationship; and that developer was not required to reconvey the land.  Appeal denied and cross appeal sustained.

 

               5.    Green v. H&R Block, Inc. (Part 2)

a.    This part of the case dealt with whether, assuming their was an agency relationship, that there was a breach of the principal-agent relationship for failing to disclose various financial relationships

b.    The court of appeals held that a showing of harm was not required for claim of breach of fiduciary duty

Class Notes

a.    With agency cost there are three variants:

       i.      Monitoring

a.    It is one of the fundamental concerns of any relationship where agents are used

       ii.     Bonding cost

                      a.    This is borne by the agent

               iii.    Irreducible expenses

                      a.    Marginal cost that agent will have

b.    Section 13 of the Restatement (Second) states that an agent is a fiduciary with respect to matters w/in the scope of his agency

c.    Pursuant to Section 387 of the Restatement provides that the agent owes a strict duty of loyalty to the principal - no person can serve two masters

i.      This means you cannot prefer the interest of one you do not owe a duty to over the interest of one you do have a duty to

ii.     Most importantly, if you have a fiduciary duty you cannot prefer your own interest

d.    Also according to Section 390 of the Restatement you must disclose to the principal all material facts (any info the principal may reasonably want to know)

       i.      The obligation to disclose is even stronger when the agent has a conflict

ii.     Accordingly, under 390 the agent may only profit with the consent of the agent and only if the agent disclose the facts of his interests and all the material facts that the agent knows will reasonably affect the principals judgment as to whether they would wish to consent

e.    Here, the court also cited Gussin v. Shockey, in stating that if the agent is to receive any benefit from a transaction in which he is serving his principal, the agent must fully disclose any interest he has in the transaction and receive the consent of his principal to proceed, even if the principal ultimately was to benefit from the transactions

f.     Also under Section 388 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency the agent has a duty to account for profits arising out of the employment

i.      If an agent makes a profit in connection w/the transactions conducted by him on behalf of the principal is under a duty to give such profit to the principal

g.    There is no minimum value at which the duty to disclose is triggered. Accordingly, all profits, no matter how slight, must be accounted for

h      Rule:  No secret profits are allowed

i.      Section 403 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency discusses liability for things received in violation of the duty of loyalty

a.    If an agent receives anything in violation of a duty of loyalty to the principal, he is subject to a liability to deliver it, its value, or its proceeds, to the principal

j.      All these principals go to ensure that the agent pursues the best interest of the principal

 

               6.    Professor’s Hypo:

Principal ask agent to buy 20 lotto tickets and the agent buys the 20 and 1 for himself.  One of the tickets wins.  Who gets the profits from the ticket – agent or principal?

a.     This is a close case so be able to argue both sides

b.     Most likely it would end up being settled

 

D.    The Firm and Its Owners

1.    Intro

a.    Here we look at the type of relationships created not by agency rules, but by the choice of persons to be associated w/one another in a business

2.    Partnerships

a.    Background Info

i.      Historically partnerships have been disfavored as the form of a firm b/c its derivative personality has not been viewed consistently by the courts (i.e., in some cases they are viewed as an aggregate of individuals w/out separate identity and in some cases as a separate entity)

ii.     When in doubt we are to assume entity status for the partnership

iii.    The UPA also has conflicting views (its an entity for some purposes and an aggregate for others)

a.    Section 201(a) of the RUPA defines a partnership as an entity distinct from its partners

b.    The import of 201(a) is to establish that when there is doubt the partnership will be treated as an entity

                      b.    Note on Entity versus Aggregate Theories of Business Forms

i.      At common law a partnerships was generally viewed as a relationship among the partners (i.e., the partnership was considered to be the aggregate of its partners)

ii.     Unlike the corporation, the partnership was not generally regarded as an entity – a legal person separate from the partners

iii.    Under the UPA, partnerships are part aggregate and part entity. 

iv.    On the other hand, the RUPA specifies that a partnership is “an entity resulting from the association of 2 or more person to carry on as co-owners a business for profit.” (RUPA §101(6))

 

c.     Problem 1.3 – Liability of Partnership and Its Partners

Costa and Head are partners in Costa and Head Land Company (“LC”).  LC and Henry Tyler Construction Corp. (“HTCC”) entered into a construction K, under which HTCC was to be compensated on a time and material basis.  During the course of construction, HTCC had submitted bills, all of which were paid.  When HTCC submitted its final bill, LC paid only a portion of the bill, leaving and outstanding balance of $39,639.98.  HTCC has filed suit for breach of K against LC and against Costa and Head, individually.

 

You have been engaged by LC, and by Costa and Head, to represent them in the litigation w/HTCC.  Please advise them as to the following:

 

(a)      May HTCC sue LC in its name?

i.     

                             (b)   Are Costa and Head liable for LC’s obligations?

                                    i.     

                             (c)   May HTCC sue Costa and Head w/first exhausting remedies against LC?

                                    i.     

 

                             Head v. HTCC

i.      In action brought by construction company for balance due on a construction contract and for enforcement of material man's or mechanic's lien, the Circuit Court rendered summary judgment against partners, and partners appealed.

ii.     The Supreme Court held that partnership creditor need not first exhaust remedies against partnership before initiating action against individual partners.  Judgment Affirmed.

                             Allgeier, Martin & Assoc. v. Ashmore

i.      In an action by a partnership seeking money judgment against several defendants, the Court of Appeals held that partnership could not sue in the firm name, and that defendants could not counterclaim against partnership in its firm name only.

 

d.     Swiezynski v. Civiello

i.      Employee who had received workers' compensation benefits for injury received in the course of employment brought negligence action against individual partners who owned the work premises for the same injury.

ii.     Without consulting the partnership agreement, the Superior Court, Hillsborough County, dismissed the suit finding the individual partners were immune from the suit because they were employers within the meaning of the Workers' Compensation Law, and employee appealed.

iii.    The N.H. Supreme Court, held that unless partnership agreement provided that individual partners did not retain their legal rights of management, partners were employers under the Workers' Compensation Law and therefore immune from employee's negligence suit.

Class Notes

i.      Under workers comp we will allow recovery but we will limit the amount.

ii.     Every one gets paid but not much at all.  Accordingly, you should be able to pursue compensation out side of worker’s comp, but it is difficult to elude the coverage or restraints of worker comp schemes b/c they make the coverage so broad

iii.    Here, Ps tried to sue in their individual capacity as landowners

iv.    Under the state’s workers comp laws in this case an ER was defined as a person, partnership, association…

v.                   The court stated that a partnership had no legal identity distinguishable from its partners – partners and partnership are one and the same

vi.                 Since partners are liable for the debts of the partnership, they should also get the benefit of the W/C restrictions.

vii.                Where the partners retain the partnership rights to control the partnership, then they would have to have a specific agreement restricting the control.

 

Bottom Line: Whether a partnership is given entity status will depend on the jurisdiction.  When in doubt assume entity status for the partnership.

 

3.    Limited Partnerships

       a.    Background Info

i.      Limited partnerships were unknown at common law; they are exclusively a creature of statute – their main purpose is to permit a form of business enterprise, other than a corp., in which persons could invest money w/out becoming liable as general partners for all debts of the partnership.

ii.     Section 101(7) of the Uniform Limited Partnership Act (1976) w/ 1985 Amendments defines a limited partnership as “a partnership formed by two or more persons…, having one or more general partners and one or more limited partners.

iii.    Subject to certain limitations a general partner in a limited partnership “has the rights and powers and is subject to the restrictions and liabilities of a partner in a partnership w/out limited partners.” (RULPA §404)

iv.    Limited partners, on the other hand, have both limited rights and limited obligations

v.     Limited partners have no general right to participate in the management of the business, except for voting rights given under the limited partnership agreement. (RULPA §302)

v.     Limited partners generally are not personally liable for partnership obligations. (RULPA §303(a)). But if limited partners act as they are in control they will be liable to the persons they deal with in that manner.  (RULPA §303(a) - last sentence).

 

viii.              So, limited partners who participate in the “control” of the limited partnership’s business run the risk of becoming liable as general partners for obligations of the limited partnership. (RULPA §303(a))

ix.                 RULPA § 303(b)(1) – Just because you are a officer or director in a corporation, and a LP, you do not lose your limitation of liability.

 

 

       b.    Life Care Centers of America, Inc. v. Charles Town Assoc.

i.      After limited partnership's agent (Life Care), which managed nursing home, was terminated by the limited partnership (Charles Town), agent brought action against limited partnership, general partner and the limited partners, alleging breach of contract/wrongful termination, tortious interference with contract, and inducement to breach contract.

               Class Notes

i.      Sections 387 and 388 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency set forth the duty of loyalty

ii.     Section 387 – General Principle:  Unless otherwise agreed, an agent is subject to a duty to his principal to act solely for the benefit of the principal in all matters connected w/his agency

iii.    Section 388 – Duty to Account for Profits Arising Out of Employment: Unless, otherwise agreed, an agent who makes a profit in connection with transactions conducted by him on behalf of the principal is under a duty to give such profit to the principal

iv.    Here, Life Care would want to argue that the partnership was an entity and its duty was to the partnership and it could therefore subordinate the interest of the individual partners to serve the partnership

v.     However, if it were an aggregate of individuals rather than an entity then it breached its duty b/c it was disobedient and disloyal – it entered into competition w/a person it owed a fiduciary duty to

vi.    A limited partnership is closer to the corp. than a general partnership when it comes to the liability aspect (relationship b/w limited partners and partnership closely mirrors relationship b/w shareholders and corp.)

vii.   In order to pursue the entity interest over the interest of any partner the agent would have to show that there is sufficient diversion of interest (waste, self-dealing, etc…) and that such belief should be a justifiable belief well grounded in fact and law.

viii.  When dealing w/ MRs of Professional Conduct – a lawyer’s duty is to the entity rather than to the individuals

ix.    The managing partner speaks for the entity and must follow that direction unless it is clear that it would be contrary to the interest of the organization

4.    Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

       a.    Note on LLP and LLLP Forms of Business

               i.      An LLP is basically a general partnership w/a few important modifications

ii.     There is no model or uniform LLP Act, so it is purely based on statutes that vary from state to state

iii.    In order to become an LLP, the partnership must file an application w/ an appropriate state official to register as an LLP

iv.    In many states an LLP must submit a renewal application annually to maintain its status as an LLP (this filing requirement is different from filing requirements of other limited liability entities)

v.     The benefit of achieving LLP status is that partners in an LLP are protected from certain sorts of liability, whereas partners in an ordinary general partnership are liable for all debts of the partnership

a.    LLP status protects you from conduct of others but not your own misconduct

vi.    Delaware Approach: Some state follow the Delaware legislation, which provides that a partner in an LLP is relieved of liability for the negligence, wrongful acts and misconduct of another partner and of EEs, agents and representatives of the partnership

vii.   N.Y. Approach: A growing number of jurisdiction, including NY, are taking a different approach.  In these states partners in an LLP are insulated from personal liability for any partnership debt, regardless of whether the obligation was incurred as a result of wrongful conduct.

viii.  These statutes basically provided partners in an LLP w/the same type of limited liability that shareholders of a corp. enjoy.

ix.    LLLPs are very similar to LLPs.  The only significant difference is that the basic structure of an LLLP is that of a limited partnership rather than a general partnership. 

x.     The advantage of being an LLLP is that the general partners of the limited partnership will be insulate from personal liability

 

       b.    Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Gardere & Wynne, L.L.P.

i.      The defendant law firm, Gardere & Wynne (“G & W"), is a Registered Limited Liability Partnership created under the laws of the State of Texas

ii.     Defendant Nabors is an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas and is a litigation partner in G & W. Defendant Woods is also an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Texas. He formerly worked under Nabors at G & W but left the firm approximately one month after being elected an income partner in the spring of 1993

iii.    G & W has long-represented and currently represents Liberty Mutual in many such lawsuits brought against it and its insureds, primarily, but not exclusively, in Texas

iv.    Nabors and Woods came from another firm and brought a client who had conflicting interest w/liberty mutual

iv.    In this case Liberty Mutual seeks injunctive relief and money damages against G & W, Nabors, and Woods for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty and conflicts of interest arising out of activities regarding Texas lawsuits taken by Nabors and Woods on behalf of clients whose interests are adverse to those of Liberty Mutual

Class Notes

i.      Generally, non-equity/income partners are considered employees of the partnership

ii.     Partners in equity share in profits and control and are not considered EEs

iii.    G&W moved to dismiss on the grounds that there were not an entity and thus all the partners had to be sued

iv.    Under TRCP suits are permitted against the partnership and in the firms name

v.                   TX, like most jurisdictions has adopted the LLP as an entity

vi.                 To do this another way would be very burdensome for law firms with very many attorneys.

vi.    In an LLP - The partnership is still liable, but partners in their individual capacity are only liable for their own misconduct

 

                      c.    Note 4 on p. 68 – LLP Partner Liability in TX

Suppose you are a partner in a law firm organized as an LLP in TX.  A partner who happens to work in your area of expertise, and in the very next office, commits malpractice by failing to comply w/the statute of limitations for filing an action.

                             (a)   Are you liable for your partner’s acts on these facts?

Under TX LLP Act 3.08(a) you would not be liable.  TX law provides a shield against personal liability for partners in an LLP that prevents a partner from being liable for the misconduct of others so long as the were not worker under the supervision or direction of the first partner. 

However, the partner can be liable if he was directly involved in the specific activity or had notice or knowledge of the errors and then failed to take reasonable steps to prevent or cure the errors.  No facts here shows partner was directly involved or actually had notice or knowledge, thus there is no liability.

(b)   Would it make any difference if you had also represented the same client on a related matter?

It would depend on the relationship – the closer the relationship the more likely you will be sued

(c)   Would it make any difference if you were the billing attorney for that client?

       P’s attorney would say you are responsible for that client’s interest if you are the billing attorney.

       Defense attorney would argue you did not know the details of the representation.  D would prove this up by establishing that it is the practice of billing attorneys in the community not to know details of representation. 

(d)   What if you are a senior partner, and the partner who committed malpractice is one of you junior partners who your are responsible for reviewing for bonuses.

       Here, you are most likely liable. 

       Senior partner could possibly argue that the malpractice took place b/w reviews.

(e)   What if you are the chair of the litigation department?

       Rarely are these persons severed in a summary proceeding

(f)    What if you are on the firm’s executive committee?

       Same as (e)

(g)   What if you are the firm’s managing partner?

       Same as (e) 

 

5.    Limited Liability Companies

a.         Intro

i.      LLCs exist solely through statutes

ii.     It is a business form that blends the most desirable attributes of partnerships and corporations

iii.    Like a partnership it is extremely flexible and can avoid taxation at the entity level

a.    All non-corporate forms have conduit tax treatment – there is no taxation at the entity level for all non-corporate forms

iv.    As w/a corporation, the owners are provided w/limited liability for debts created by the entity. 

a.    Participation in the management activities of the company will not take away you limited liability protection, b/c 303(a) of the ULPA does not apply

v.     Unlike limited partnership there is no requirement that at least one owner be subjected to unlimited personal liability, or prohibition on at least some members participating in control

vi.    An LLC is not subject to double taxation unless its interests are publicly traded

vii.   Professionals are not allowed to organize as an LLC

 

b.     Elf Atochem North America, Inc. v. Jaffari

i.      Elf brought a purported derivative suit against limited liability company and its manager (Jaffari), alleging, inter alia, breach of fiduciary duty.

ii.     The Court of Chancery dismissed suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Member appealed.

iii.    The Del. Supreme Court held that: (1) limited liability company was bound by agreement defining its governance and operation, even though company did not itself execute agreement, and (2) contractual provisions directing that all disputes be resolved exclusively by arbitration or court proceedings in California were valid under Limited Liability Company Act.

Class Notes

i.                     A derivative suit is a suit brought on behalf of the corporation but usually by someone who is not a part of the controlling management (done when controlling management does not bring suit, usually b/c there is wrong doing by that management)

ii.                   The LLC agreement superseded what would otherwise be the operation of the law – thus the arbitration clause superceded the ability of courts to exert jurisdiction over the company.

iii.                  In Delaware, the LLC contractual freedom is to be maximized. 

iv.                 You get to participate in the control and management of the company, without exposing yourself to liability (like can happen in LP’s).

v.                   In LLC’s, participation is not a reason to establish liability.

               6.    Corporations

                      a.    Characteristics of a Corporation:

                             i.      Personality

                                    a.    The corp. is a legal person – it has its own separate existence 

                                    b.    It has the rights regular persons have

c.    It is also regarded as a separate person for tax purposes (corp. as an entity is taxed). 

d.    This is different than partnership were there is no entity to tax

e.    In short, corporations are subject to dual taxation, and this factor cuts against the use of corporations as the preferred form

f.     The characteristic of personality is important in determining which form to use, where liability rest, and taxation

                             ii.     Transferability of Interest

a.    Default rule in partnerships is that individuals cannot become a partner w/out the unanimous consent of all the partners

b.    In larger partnerships (e.g., V&E) it will probably be by a majority and not unanimity

c.    W/corporations the default rule is that your shares are freely transferable

d.    There may be, however, an agreement providing that the corporation has the right of first refusal (i.e., default rule can be changed by K)

                             iii.    Limited Liability

a.    Problem w/general partnership is that all the partners are liable for the debts of the partnership

b.    W/corporations there is generally no personal liability

c.    Note, however, that you can pierce the corporate veil if the limited liability protection is abused

d.    The corporate charter is in essence a standard K and one of its aims is to guard shareholders against unlimited liability – shareholders liability is limited to the amount they invest

                             iv.    Perpetual Existence

a.         The default rule is that the corporation lives on forever – the death of one of its members is not the end of the corporation

b.         W/partnerships the default rule is that the death of a partner is the death of the partnership

v.     Centralized Management

               a.    Control is primarily left to Board of Directors

 

       E.    Tax Consequences

               1.    AB Corp. (assuming 50% tax rate)

                      100

                      Corp. Taxed

                      50

                      Distribution to A&B (A&B get 25 each)

                      A and B are taxed and left w/ 12 ½ in pocket

 

               2.    AB  Non-Corp. (assuming 50% tax rate)

                      100

                      Non-Corp not taxed

                      100

                      Distribution to A-B (50 to A and 50 to B)

                      A and B are taxed and left w/25 in pocket

                     

               3.    W/corporations you have dual taxation

 

 

II.    Contractual Dealings by Agents

A.        Firms Liability in Contract for Acts of Its Agents

 

1.    Problem 2.1 – Contractual Liability of Principal for Acts of Agent

Equipment owner Kapperman was negotiating the possible sale of his broken road grader to Schladweiler for $8,500.  Kapperman authorized Schladweiler only to obtain three bids to have the engine repair work done (so that Kapperman could then decide whether the repair was affordable).  Instead, Schladweiler represented to Truck Repair that he had authority form Kapperman to obtain the repair on behalf of Kapperman, as long as the cost of the repair did not exceed $3,500.  Schladweiler did not get any other bids and ordered the work to be done by Truck Repair.  Truck Repair did the work for $6,400, released the road grader to Schladweiler, but has not been paid.  Schladweiler is insolvent.  Who is liable for the repair bill?

 

                      Answer to Problem 2.1

Here, there was no authority to contract, only authority to quote. Section 7 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency defines authority as the power of the agent to affect the legal relations of the principal by acts done in accordance with the principal’s manifestations of consent to him.  Here, the principal manifested no consent to the agent to contract.  Accordingly, the principal is not liable at all b/c there was no authority given the agent to bind the principal.    There would have had to have been either actual authority, or implied authority.

Note, however, that if there was acceptance of the grader it would constitute ratification and the principal would be liable.

 

               2.    Kasselder v. Kapperman

a.    Prospective buyer of road grader appealed from a judgment of the Circuit Court in favor of truck repair business ordering prospective buyer to pay $3,441.06 of $6,441.06 repair bill on the grader. Here, Schwadweiler approved the purchase of the engine but specified that he would not pay more than $3,000.  Court found Kapperman had authority to bind Schwaeweiler for the $3,000 but no more.

Class Notes

a.    An agent acting outside the scope of his power is liable to the 3rd party for the excess based on the breach of an implied authority.

b.    3rd party may rely on the ability of an agent to bind the principal (3rd party is allowed to make reasonable assumptions)

c.    This is a rule to facilitate the use of commerce – the use of agents benefits commerce

d.    The law protects the 3rd party as well as the principal

e.    Note, the assumption must be reasonable (e.g. there is prior course of dealing etc…).  If it was not reasonable then the 3rd party must show some additional information that led him to believe the agent had the authority

 

       B.    Firm’s Rights Under Contracts Entered Into by Its Agents

               1.    Intro

                      a.    A 3rd person dealing with an agent may not know they are dealing w/an agent

b.    According to the Restatement 2nd  § 4(3), where the third person has no notice that the agent is acting for a principal, the principal is “undisclosed”

c.    Where a person knows they are dealing w/an agent, they may not have notice of the identity of the principal, and in such a situation the principal is “partially disclosed” (Restatement 2nd § 4(2))

d.    Where the third person has notice both that the agent is acting for a principal and of the principal’s identity, the principal is “disclosed” (Restatement 2nd § 4(1))

e.    The issue is to what extent does the degree of disclosure of the principal affect the principal’s ability to enforce a K entered into by the agent on the principal’s behalf.

 

               2.    Woodlawn Park Limited Partnership v. Doster Construction Co., Inc

a.    Limited partnership, which owned shopping center, brought suit against contractor and testing engineers who tested soil conditions to recover damages for construction defects.

b.    The district court maintained exception of no right of action. Partnership appealed.

c.    The Court of Appeal affirmed, and Certiorari was granted.

d.    The La. Supreme Court held that the undisclosed principal had right of action against party who contracted with undisclosed principal's agent.

                      Class Notes

a.    Under civil law jurisprudence where the agent lends his name to the principal by contracting in the agent’s name then the principal is not bound and thus has no right to enforce the K

b.    The lent name reserves all liability to the agent and the 3rd party

c.    The common law rule is the opposite – an undisclosed principal is bound by the acts done by his agent on his behalf in the scope of the agency

d.    It is consistent with the common law principal that principal be allowed to bring a cause of action (if he can be held liable he can sue)

              

3.    Problem 2.2 Rights of Principals Under Ks Entered into By Agent – Principal Undisclosed

A was in business in Chicago as a retail dealer in costume jewelry.  In addition, he frequently served as purchasing agent for retailers of similar goods.  In December, P, a retailer fro who A had occasionally acted in the past, wrote A authorizing him to purchase on P’s behalf a specified quantity of costume jewelry from T, a wholesaler.  P added that b/c of certain transactions in the pas, T might refuse to deal w/him and directed A not to disclose buyer’s identity.  A, who occasionally dealt w/T on his own account, was indebted to T for $3,500. A immediately contacted T and arranged w/him to purchase the costume jewelry.  A written K was entered into, delivery to be made February 1 at A’s place of business, payment to be made 10 days thereafter. A signed the K in his own name, having made no mention of P, and T assumed that A was the buyer. On February 1, T failed to deliver under the K, notifying A that he had learned for who A was acting and that he would not fill the order. Informed of this, P promptly purchased similar costume jewelry in the open market.  P suffered damages of $3,500 w/respect to the jewelry.  P demanded that T pay him $3,500.  T repeated his refusal to be bound by the K, pointing out that had T know the identity of A’s principal, he would not have entered into the K.  T also claimed that even if he were liable, he would be entitled to set off the $3,500 owed to him by A.  What are P’s rights, if any, against T?

 

Answer to Problem 2.2

This problem deals with the issue of what rights, if any, does a principal have against a third party under Ks entered into by the principals agent and third party, when the principal was undisclosed. Section 302 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency sets down the general rule for this type of situation.  Pursuant to 302, a person who makes a K with an agent of an undisclosed principal, intended by the agent to be on account of his principal and w/in the power of such agent to bind his principal, is liable to the principal as if the principal himself had mad the K with him.  Here, T made a K with A and A’s principal was undisclosed.  A intended the K to be on account of P and A had the power to bind his principal in this regard.  Accordingly, under 302 T would be liable to P under the K. 

However, 302 does provide for an exception if the principal’s existence is fraudulently concealed or if there is a set-off or a similar defense against the agent.  Here, T could argue that P’s existence was fraudulently concealed.  However, the fraud exception would not apply b/c T did not ask for the identity of the principal, and you need an affirmative misrepresentation to constitute fraud (Kelly Asphalt case).  The other exception may apply. The facts also show that T has already argued the he has a set off against A. Since T does have a set off then T would fit under the exception of 302 and not be liable to P.  

Moreover, Section 306 of the Restatement 2nd states that if the agent has been authorized to conceal the existence of the principal, the liability of a the third person to the principal is diminished by any claim the third person may have agent at the time of making the K. That is to say, where there is an undisclosed principal the 3rd parties has all the rights against the agent as if the agent was the principal until the time of disclosure.

 

               4.    Kelly Asphalt Block Co. v. Barber

                      a.    This case deals with the exception to the general rule

                      b.    Section 302 of the restatement sets forth the general rule

i.      A person who makes a K with an agent of an undisclosed principal is liable to the principal as if the principal made the K himself

c.    One exception provided under 302 is that the general rule will not apply if his identity is fraudulently concealed

d.    Here, the parties were competitors but it did not fit under the fraud exception b/c they did not ask for the identity of the principal

e.    As a party to a K you have the right to request disclosure

f.     Rule:  You need an affirmative representation to constitute fraud

      

               5.    Problem 2.3 – Contractual Dealing by Agents & Undisclosed Principles

Big amusement the operator of a world famous amusement park in California plans to open a major amusement park just outside a city in Florida.  Big Amusement hires Agent to purchase the necessary property, but directs Agent not to reveal Big Amusement’s identity.  Agent approaches Owner, who owns some suitably located agricultural land, and offers to buy the property at the market price for agricultural land.  Owner believes Agent is acting on his or her own behalf, but does not ask agent if that is the case.  After the sale, Owner discovers that Big Amusement is the true purchaser.

              

                      (1)   Has there even been a misrepresentation?

There is no fraud/misrepresentation.  According, to Kelly Asphalt Block Co. v. Barber, you need an affirmative representation to establish fraud.  Agent’s silence is not an affirmative misrepresentation. Silence will only constitute a misrepresentation/fraud where there is a duty to speak.  Here, there was no fiduciary relationship b/w the agent and the third party, establishing a duty to speak.  Had there been a fiduciary relationship, there would have been a duty to disclose and if there is a duty to disclose you do not need an affirmative representation to constitute fraud.

 

(2)   Owner sues for rescission, claiming that Owner would have insisted on a higher price if Owner had know this.  What result?

       Owner would not be able be able to succeed on a rescission claim. Section 304 of the Restatement 2nd provides that a third party contracting with the agent of an undisclosed principal may rescind the K if he was induced to enter into it by a representation that the agent was not action for a principal and if, as the agent or principal has notice, he would not have dealt with principal.  Here, there was no misrepresentation inducing Owner to enter into the agreement. 

Note, the court might find fraud if there was a little widower because we assume facilitation of business and commercial actors may be held to a higher standard.

 

       C.    Agent’s Liability for Contractual Dealings

               1.    Agent’s Duty to Fully Disclose Principal

                      a.    Intro

i.      Over the years one issue has been whether the agent has a duty to disclose the identity of the principal

ii.     Ordinarily a principle requires business to be conducted in its name – could be b/c of reputation, creditworthiness, etc…

iii.    On the other side persons also wish to know whom they are doing business with

iv.    However, there are other instances where a principal may decide that they do not want to be disclosed – could be due to cost, fear, credit problems, etc…

iv.    Section 320 (Principal Disclosed) of the Restatement provides that “unless otherwise agreed, a person purporting to make a K w/another as agent for a disclosed principal does not become a party to the K

a.     Here, it is the principal who is bound, not the agent

vi.    Section 321 (Principal Partially Disclosed) provides that unless otherwise agreed, a person purporting to make a K with another for a partially disclosed principal is a party to the K

       a.     Here, the agent is bound

vii.   Section 322 (Principal Undisclosed) provides that where an agent purporting to act upon his own account, but in fact making a K on account of an undisclosed principal, is a party to the K

       a.     Here, the agent is also bound

 

                      b.    Problem 2.4 – Agent Liability for Ks entered into w/ Third Parties

Burbank was the representative and buyer for Ajax Sales Company.  He had previously worked for various food and wholesale brokers and was know in the industry.  Ajax wanted to buy 100 bushels of apples and instructed Burbank to obtain prices for them.  Burbank contacted Apple Orchards, Inc. and inquired about the availability and price of the apples.  He then informed Ajax that and was directed to make the purchase. Burbank returned to Apple Orchards and told them he wanted the 100 bushels at the agreed price. He never advised the clerk of Apple Orchards about Ajax. Apple Orchards prepared the invoice and delivered the apples to the address given by Burbank, which was the address of Ajax.  When the apples arrived at Ajax’s warehouse, Burbank called Apple Orchards and informed them the apples were for Ajax and should be billed to it.  He was informed that Ajax’s credit was no good and they wanted nothing to do with it.  Apple Orchards files its complaint against Burbank for the purchase price.  What decision?

 

Answer to Problem 2.4

Given the facts, Burbank would be liable under the contract. Pursuant to Section 322 of the Restatement 2nd an agent purporting to act upon his own account, but in fact making a contract on account of an undisclosed principal, is a party to the contract and therefore may be held liable on the contract.  Here, the facts tend to show that Burbank was purporting to act on his own account. Burbank never informed Apple of the identity or existence of Ajax. The facts also prove that Burbank made the contract on account of his undisclosed principal.  Hence, Burbank would be liable for the K b/c the principal (Ajax) was not disclosed. 

 

Burbank may argue that he should not be held liable because Ajax was a partially disclosed principal. Unfortunately of Burbank, partial disclosure of the principal does not relieve the agent of liability on the contract. Section 321 provides that unless otherwise agreed, a person purporting to make a contract with another for a partially disclosed principal is a party to the contract. So even if Burbank were able to show that Apples had constructive notice that he was in fact working for a principal because Burbank was known in the food industry and had been an agent for similar companies in the past making the same type of purchases and that this constructive notice established partial disclosure it still would not be enough to escape liability.  It is not sufficient that the third party has knowledge of facts and circumstances, which would, if reasonably followed by inquiry, disclose the identity of the principal.  The duty of disclosure clearly lies with the agent alone; the third party with whom the agent deals has no duty to discover the existence of an agency or the identity of the principal.

 

The only way Burbank (the agent) could escape liability would be to prove that Ajax (the principal) was fully disclosed. Section 320 provides unless otherwise agreed a person making or purporting to make a contract with another as agent for a disclosed principal does not become a party to the contract.  Burbank could argue that he did in fact inform Apple that the apples were for Ajax, and therefore he should not be held liable b/c the principal was disclosed. However, this disclosure took place after Apple fulfilled their obligation under the contract.  Hence, the disclosure came to late to relieve Burbank from liability.

 

c.     Clark v. Maddux

Medical doctor brought action against lawyer to recover fee for review of medical information in connection with medical malpractice case. The trial court entered judgment for the doctor, and attorney appealed. The Appellate Court held that where doctor retained by attorney to review medical records in medical malpractice case was told that attorney was acting on behalf of client and in representative capacity in the case, and attorney was, in fact, authorized to secure doctor's services, disclosure of client as principal precluded personal liability of attorney for doctor's charges.

Rule: When the principal is disclosed the agent is not liable on the K.

 

d.     Copp v. Breskin

Expert witness hired by law firm on behalf of client brought action against law firm to recover fees for his services. The trial court entered judgment in favor of witness, and law firm appealed. The court of appeals held that law firm that hired expert witness on behalf of client was liable for witness' fees after client refused to pay entire bill, although firm had advised witness before hiring him that fees were to be paid by client.

*This case imposed liability on agent even though principal was disclosed.

*The principal to learn from this is that when in doubt have express disclosure

 

e.     Water, Waste & Land, Inc. v. Lanham

Third party brought suit against agents of a limited liability company (LLC) and the LLC itself to recover an amount due on contract for engineering services.  The county court dismissed first agent, on theory that he had disclosed that he was acting as agent, and entered judgment against second agent, on theory that he had not disclosed agency for LLC.  On appeal, the district court reversed judgment against second agent. Third party appealed.  The Colorado Supreme Court held, on matter of apparent first impression, that the notice provision of Limited Liability Company Act did not relieve agents of their common law duty to disclose existence and identity of their principals to avoid personal liability.

Chapter 10, § 292.  3rd party, made by an agent for a P, disclosed or partially disclosed is liable to the P as if he had contracted with the P.

§ 302 – K with agent with undisclosed P is liable for the K.

§ 320 – The agent isn’t liable when the P is fully disclosed.  Requires the agency capacity and the identify of the principle.  Without this, the agent is liable to 3rd persons.

Class Notes

i.       Rule:  The limited liability statute only absolves from personal liability members and managers as members and managers not as agents.

ii.          Regardless of the umbrella you work under you are still liable for your own actions and certain persons are allowed to rely on your actions

iii.    When doing business you must disclose what capacity you are doing business in

iv.   The C/L rule is valid for the suing of individuals in an agency relationship, but to remove liability, you must go to the statutory framework that creates the LLC, etc.

v.     A staute in derogation of the C/L should be interpreted narrowly.  In this case,  they tried to use the public filing as a constructive notice.  This was rejected by the court.

 

f.      Robert T. Reynolds Associates, Inc. v. Asbeck

i.      The disclosure by Mr. Reynolds that he was acting as president of “Acousticon Electronics” – a trade or assumed name used by a corporation, J.S. Sales Corp. Int’l., was found to be insufficient to relieve Mr. Reynolds of liability on the K.

               2.    Agent’s Implied Warranty of Authority

                      a.    Intro

i.      When an agent discloses to a 3rd party that the agent is acting on behalf of a principal, the agent might not expressly represent that the he possesses the authority to so act

ii.     The issue then becomes whether the agent has impliedly warranted that he has the authority to act on behalf of the principal when he discloses he is working on behalf of a principal

 

                      b.    Farm Credit Bank v. FCB Limited Partnership § 329.

 

Bank brought diversity action against agent for breach of implied warranty of authority to contract on behalf of principal for sublease of real property. Ps argued that a person who assumes to act as an agent for another impliedly warrants that he has authority to do so; and if therefore he in fact lacks authority he renders himself personally liable on the warranty to one who deals with him in good faith reliance.   FCB didn’t amend the agreement.

Court found every person purporting to act for a principal has a duty toward 3rd parties to refrain from making contracts for which he has not been granted authority to make – This duty does not depend on the existence of a K; it may arise under the common law

Class Notes

(i)      Restatement Section 328 states that an agent, by making a K only on behalf of a competent disclosed or partially disclosed principal whom he has power so to bind, does not thereby become liable for its nonperformance

i.          

ii.     Restatement Section 329 states that a person who purports to make a K on behalf of another who has full capacity but whom has not power to bind, thereby becomes subject to liability to the other party upon an implied warranty of authority. 

 

iii.    If 3rd party contracts with an agent, and the agent really does not have authority to make the K, the 3rd party can still hold the agent liable by showing there was implied warranty of authority

 

 

                      c.    Benner v. Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co.

Bauman, an insurance agent for Farm Bureau, told the Benners that their insurance policy would amended to cover personal property the Benners were moving to California.  When the property was destroyed, Farm Bureau denied coverage, claiming that Bauman had no actual authority to as to insurance policy covering risks outside of Idaho.  Then Benners sued Bauman and Farm Bureau. The trial court found 1) that Farm Bureau was liable to the Benners – although Bauman had no actual authority he had apparent authority, 2) Bauman was liable to the Benners for breach of his implied warranty of authority, and 3) Bauman was liable to Farm Bureau for losses resulting from his exceeding his authority. 

The Idaho Supreme Court reversed as to Bauman’s liability for breach of the implied warranty of authority.  The Court reasoned that the implied warranty of authority was not intended to apply where the unauthorized act bound the principal under the doctrine of apparent authority.  

 

III.   Formation of Firms

A.        Introduction

1.    There are a number of different organizational forms available to those who wish to set up a business enterprise

2.    The formalities required for formation differ depending on the type of firm that is chosen

3.    Also, w/in a firm a number of different relationships may be created

 

B.    Agency Relationships

       1.    Estate of John Giannopoulos

 

a.    Law firm sought to have a court entertain an application regarding Albanian widow's alleged right of election to take against decedent's will.

b.    The Surrogate's Court held that power of attorney allegedly executed by widow in Albania and documents accompanying power of attorney did not comply with applicable sections of Real Property Law, Civil Practice Law and Rules, and Uniform Rules and were improperly accepted for filing.

Class Notes

1.      Power of attorney did not satisfy legal requirements and as such it was not sufficient to give widow actual authority to act

2.      Agents are person who are authorized to act for another, and by so acting, to bind that other person

3.      Actual authority has been defined as “the power of the agent to affect the legal relations of the principal by acts done in accordance with the principal’s manifestations of consent to him. (Restatement Section 7)

4.      Restatement 26 – Creation of Authority: General Rule.  The authority to do an act can be created by written or spoken words or other conduct of the P which, reasonably interpreted causes the agent to believe that the principal desires him to so act on the principal’s account.

5.      At common law, there was the equal dignities rule.  If the contract required a writing, the grant of agency authority to undertake the contract, then the grant to create the agency was also required.  This is largely dead.  Still alive in California via statute.

6.      Where there is a defect, then there is no authority to act.

 

       2.    Maricopa Partnerships, Inc. v. Petyak

 

Principal brought suit against agent for refund of vehicle's purchase price after the dealer failed to deliver the vehicle. The court entered judgment on jury verdict for principal, and agent appealed. The Court of Appeals held that agent would be liable only if he breached the duty to act with reasonable care and skill.

                      Class Notes

a.    Agency is both a contractual, as well as a fiduciary, relationship

b.    Restatement 13 – An agent is a fiduciary with respect to matter within the scope of his agency

c.    Restatement 15 – An agency relations exists only if there has been a manifestation by the principal to the agent that the agent may act on the principal’s account, and consent by the agent to so act.

d.    Restatement 16 – Unlike traditional Ks, creation of the agency relationship does not require a mutual exchange of consideration

The P will assume some of the reesponsiblity since they have chosen the agent.  Unless there is fraud on the part of the agent.

Restatement 377 Comment b -- contractual Duties – A person who makes a contract with another to perform services is an agent for him is subject to a duty to make reasonable efforts to achieve the desired result.

 

 

       C.    Partnerships

               1.    Intro

a.    Section 6 of the UPA defines a partnership as “an association of 2 or more persons to carry on as co-owners a business for [the purpose of] profit”  This is used as a test for the existence of a partnership.

b.    Section 202(a) of the RUPA continues this definition in a slightly altered form - “the association of 2 or more person to carry on as co-owners a business for profit forms a partnership” (TX uses word creates – this seemingly gets away from subjective test)

c.    Formalities are not required for a partnership (it is a right not a privilege).

d.    While the informality of a partnership is sometime seen as an advantage, persons involved in a business relationship sometimes discover that they have become partners w/out realizing it.

e.    Becoming a partner has significant implications:

       i.      Partners are liable for partnership obligations (UPA 15, RUPA 306(a))

               ii.     Partners bear a share of the partnership loss (UPA 18(a), RUPA 401(a)(2))

f.      Co-ownership is a crucial element of the partnership

g.    Co-ownership is a crucial element of the partnership

h.    Co-ownership control focuses on the parties

i.       Contribution is a critical part of the partnerships.

j.       Profit sharing:  All they have to do is to “contemplate” the profit sharing arrangement.

 

               2.    Dalton v. Austin

a.      FACTS:  oral agreement entered into by π and D to run a restaurant..  π then ran the business and contributed to it.  Π thought it would eventually be a corp.  The D thought it would be purchased by the P.

b.      Conversion action was brought to recover certain financial contributions which plaintiff had made to restaurant business that was originally operated by defendant (Austin) as sole proprietor.

c.      The Superior Court rendered judgment for defendant, and plaintiff appealed.

d.      The Supreme Judicial Court held that: (1) evidence supported finding of partnership relationship, and (2) dispute was more properly resolved in an action for accounting rather than in separate conversion action, notwithstanding contention that claim rested on a separate legal obligation arising out of defendant's alleged promise to incorporate the business, turn assets over to the corporation and distribute stock.

Class Notes

a.    A traditional principal of partnership law is that one partner may not sue the partnership or another partner on a matter arising out of partnership affairs until the partnership has been dissolved, its affairs wound up, and there has been an accounting of such affairs

b.    The rule is subject to numerous exceptions

i.      The primary exception is a suit arising out of a transaction sufficiently isolated from other partnership affairs and that can be resolved w/out a review of all partnership affairs is allowed

RUPA § 405 specifically permits both partnership and partner suits against partners.

 

               3.    Chariton Feed & Grain, Inc. v. Harder – “Is there a partnership?”

a.    Livestock feed supplier brought action against landlord, tenant, and others seeking recovery for supplies furnished to tenant. The District Court entered judgment in favor of supplier, and landlord appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed by operation of law due to a split decision.

b.    The question is Apperant authority.  Did they actually have the authority as partners.  Did they hold themselves out as partners?  If they did, then they would be estopped from claiming that they weren’t.

 

b.    Upon grant of further review, the Supreme Court held that:

(1)   written agreement between landlord and tenant did not create a partnership;

(2)   substantial evidence did not establish that landlord exercised control of farm operation or that conduct of parties disclosed their intent to associate as partners;

(3)   landlord was not liable on basis of agency for feed tenant purchased from supplier; and

(4)   landlord was not liable to supplier on ground of unjust enrichment or quantum meruit, as supplier made no mistake as to party with whom it dealt, and tenant ordered the grain, accepted delivery and promised to pay

                      Notes

a.    Under the common law tests used in both Dalton and Chariton, as well as under UPA 7(4) and RUPA 202(c)(3), persons who share in profits are presumed to be partners

1.      UPA 7(4) – The receipt by a person of a share of te profits of a business is prima facie evidence that hs is a partner in the business, but no such inference shall be drawn if such profits were received in payment:

a.      As a debt by installments or otherwise

b.      As wages of an employee or rent to a landlord,

c.      As an annuity to a widow or representative of  a deceased partner

d.      As interest on a loan, through the amount of payment vary with te profits of the business

e.      As the consideration for the sale of a good-will of a business or other property by installments or otherwise.

2.      RUPA 202(c)(3) – Comment – The sharing of profits is recast as a rebuttable presumption of a partnership, a more contemporary construction rather than as prima facie evidence thereof.

3.       

 

b.    In this case the agreement gave Davidson full control

c.    Harder participated in some control but it was very limited

d.    202 of the RUPA is a carrying over of the law in the UPA as it had evolved over the years

e.    Under 202(c)(1) the co-ownership of property does not establish a partnership

f.     202(c)(2) states that the sharing of gross returns does not by itself establish a partnership

g.    EVEN if we had profit sharing you must keep 202(c)(3) in mind, which states that where there is a sharing of profits there is a presumption unless the profits were received (1) in payment of a debt by installments or otherwise, (2) for services of an independent contractor, (3) rent, (4) of an annuity or other retirement or health benefit, (5) of interest or other charge on a loan, or  (6) for the sale of goodwill of a business

h.      Here, there was an exception b/c the profits were received in payment of rent, so the sharing of profits did not establish a partnership

i.         There was also no reliance on the partnership by any 3rd parties.

j.         The intent of the parties was not desposative of the esistance of the partnership

k.       If there IS a sharing of profits, and unless there is other issues (in 202(c)(3), then there is a presumption of a partnership).

l.         In the formation of the business documents, if you can identify one of the 202(c)(3), then you want to identify those.  Also, make sure it is clear where the control of the business relationship lies.

m.    The partnerships come into being quickly, but they can also dissolve quickly.  It is a C/L

n.      When would you want losses to be distributed  differently than the profits?  For tax reasons you might keep the losses.

 

 

               4.    P&M Cattle Co. v. Holler – “Is there a partnership?”

a.    Here, P&M entered into a K with Holler – the landowner. Hollard was to pasture cattle and P&M was to supply the cattle (including cost of freight, salt and labor) and on the sale of the cattle the cost of freight, salt, and labor would be paid first. After they suffered losses, P&M sued Holler to recover some of their losses on the grounds that there was a partnership

b.    The District Court entered judgment on counterclaim, and partnership appealed.

c.    The Supreme Court held that where written agreement between parties made no mention of partnership, where division of losses was never discussed between parties until partnership delivered bad news to property owner following fall cattle sales in 1974, where no partnership federal income tax return was prepared and submitted, there was no partnership and, thus, parties were not obligated to split the losses.

Class Notes

a.    A joint venture is a partnership for a limited purpose – it is generally governed by partnership law

b.    There is also common law dealing with the establishment of joint ventures

i.      The test has several elements; (1) a community of interest in an undertaking, (2) the right to share in profits and losses, (3) a mutual right of control, and (4) an agreement, express or implied, with regard to the previous 3 elements

ii.     Here, again the emphasis is on intent

c.    We look to conduct, transactions and circumstances b/w and amongst the parties

d.    The partnership is of broader scope and duration and as such it seems it would have to be clearer – more evidence - to establish a joint venture since a joint venture is limited in scope

e.    The agreement is not dispositive either way, but it is of course probative (however, if it is self-serving it will be given little weight)

f.     Here, there was some profit sharing but profit sharing does not control if we can find a relation to those exceptions listed in 202(c)(3) of the RUPA

g.    Sharing of loses can be a factor – that was one of the factors the court looked at here, as well as in Chariton

h.    However, an agreement to share losses is not necessary to find the existence of a partnership – this is also true for the joint venture (i.e., an agreement with regards to losses is not dispositive

i.      Here, importantly the division of losses was never discussed until this claim

 

       D.    Firms with Limited Liability

               1.    Formalities of Formation

Limited Partnerships

a.    Section 101(7) of the ULPA defines a limited partnership as one formed by 2 or more person under the laws of this state having one or more general partners and one or more limited partners

b.    Limited partner is only liable under last sentence of ULPA 303(a) – if the limited partner participates in the control of the business then they are liable

c.    Section 201 of the ULPA deals with certificate of limited partnership – there must be substantial compliance, with good faith, filing a certificate of limited partnership with the appropriate state office

d.    Section 102 of the ULPA deals with the name of the limited partnership

i.      Under Section 102, the limited partner’s name cannot be in the firm name

ii.     According to the ULPA the name of the firm must contain the words limited partnership

iii.    In TX, you can have limited, limited partnership, L.P., or Ltd., and whatever choice is used it must be the last part of the name

 

Limited Liability Partnerships

a.    The limited liability partnership (LLP) is also a creation of the state – this is relatively new

b.    Formerly, there was no protection for general partners, but the L.L.P sought to address this issue. 

c.    Section 1001 of the RUPA states the qualifications to become an LLP

d.    In order to remain a limited liability partnership you must comply with the formalities set forth in sections 1001, 1002, and 1002

1.      The name of the LLP must end with the LLP, or Limited Liability partnership to show the nature of the LLP.

 

d.    The TRPA 3.08b deals with filing, b(5) – must be renewed annually and under 3.08d – you must have 100k either in partnership assets or in insurance as a financial responsibility requirement

e.      Liability can depend on whether there has been compliance or substantial compliance with the statutory formalities

f.        Uniform Limited partnership Act:  page 332 --.

a.      Section 101(7)  Definition of the partnership.

b.      § 201 – The Requirements of the certificate.

c.      § 201(a)(2) – The organizations address.  This is where service will be attempted.  This is the responsibility of the lawyer to make sure this is correct.

 

 

 

Limited Liability Companies

a.    Pursuant to section 18-201 of Del. LLC Act, you only need one person to form an LLC

i.      Delaware law leans more toward corporate form, while Model Act leans more to partnership

For exam, you are responsible for Delaware Act.

(i)      This is also a creation of the state, so a certificate must be filed

(ii)    In texas, LLC, LC, Ltd. Liability Co., are all acceptable names.

1.       

c.    Under 18-102 of the Del. LLC Act the name must contain the words LLC, or the abbreviation L.L.C.

d.    Meyer v. Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage laws Enforcement.

i.       Liquor licenses may not be held by corporations.  They must be held by real people.

ii.     The alcohol board held that the LLC wasn’t a person.  The court held that the limited liability nature of the LLC was similar to the Corporation, and couldn’t do the license.

iii.    The legislature wanted PERSONAL responsibility and liability.  The LLC would would avoid that.

iv.   The methodology:  Deconstruct the Legislation (i.e. look at the legislative history, and verify that the intent of the legislation is consistant with that purpose).

v.     Note 3: 157 –

e.    Opinion Number R-17:  The formation of LLC’s for legal services.  This ruling allows it in Michigan.  NOT allowed in Texas for Law Firms (yet…).

f.       

d.    Problem 1 on page 153

       Suppose a new client, Lucy Lucky, comes to your law firm and proposes to from a new Delaware LLC with the following document.  What advice would you give her?

CERTIFICATE OF FORMATION

The undersigned authorized person forming this Limited Liability Company adopts the following Certificate of Formation:

First:       The Name of the Limited Liability Company is Lucky’s Ltd.

Second: The address of the registered office of the Limited Liability Company which may be, but need not be, the place of business in the State of Delaware, shall be P.O. Box 0001, Wilmington, DE.

Third:     The name of the registered agent and the address of said agent shall be: Lucy Lucky, P.O. Box 0001, Wilmington, DE.

Fourth:   The management of this Company may be vested in a manger or managers by inclusion of a provision to this effect in the written operating agreement of Lucky’s Ltd.

Fifth:       This agreement shall be retroactively effective as of January 1, 1999.

Signed:  _________________

Name:    _________________

 

                             Answer

1)    Lucky’s Ltd. is not a valid name, so we would have to inform Lucy of the proper options for naming her company

a.    Del. Limited Liability Company Act Section 18-102 states that the name of an LLC shall contain the words “Limited Liability Company” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.” or the designation LLC

b.    Section 105 of the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act provides that the name must contain “limited liability company” or “limited company” or the abbreviation “L.L.C.”, “LLC”, “L.C.”, or “LC”. “Limited” may be abbreviated as “Ltd.,” and “company” may be abbreviated as “Co.

2)    The address of the registered office and agent is improper

a.    Del. Limited Liability Company Act Section 18-104 requires that each limited liability company have and maintain a registered office and a registered agent for service

b.    Del. Limited Liability Company Act Section 18-201(a)(2) states that the certificate shall contain the address of the registered agent, and it cannot be a P.O. Box

c.    Section 108 of the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act requires a street address for the registered agent

d.    You want to make sure the address is kept up to date b/c all the Sheriff has to do is show up to the address listed on the certificate to serve you w/process

3)    If this were filed under Uniform LLCA then Lucy would have to include more information on the certificate of formation (See 203 ULLCA)

 

               2.    Contracts entered into before formation of a limited liability firm

                      a.    Problem 3.1 – Liability of Promoters and Investors for Pre-Formation Transactions

                             This is the White Rabbit Records Problem studied in Corporations

                             Answer to Problem 3.1

This problem deals with the liability of promoters. A promoter is a person who transforms an idea into a business by bringing together the needed persons and assets, and supervising the various steps required to bring the new business into existence.     Often times a promoter of a business organization makes Ks for the benefit of the entity even before it has been formed, and the question then becomes who is liable under the K. That is the issue here.

3/7 – Alice signs artist to K on behalf of firm.  Signs “whit Rabbit Rocords” by Alice.

4/1 – LLC organizational document signed by Grace, alice, and Lewis.  Sent to state filing office.

4/7 – Grace executes lease w/landlord  on behalf of firm, signs “white Rabbit Records LLC” by Grace, member.

4/15 – Grance learns organizational document not yet filed (name problem).

4/22 – Effective date of formation, after re-filing w letter of consent..

 

 

                             Liabilities W/Respect to the Recording Contract

Alice:

Alice is liable as the promoter. This would be partially disclosed (since you are acting for someone else.) The general rule is that when a promoter makes a K for the benefit of a contemplated corp., the promoter is personally liable on the K and remains liable even after the corporation is formed. This general rule is supported by Restatement 2nd § 326, which provides that unless otherwise agreed, a person who, in dealing with another purports to act as agent for a principal whom both know to be nonexistent or wholly incompetent, becomes a party to such contract. The party has to know of the non-existence or there has to be an agreement not to personally liable.  An exception to the general rules is that if the party contracting with the promoter knew that the entity was not in existence at the time of contracting, and nevertheless agreed to look solely to the entity for performance, the promoter is not deemed a party to the K and will not be held liable.  There are no facts that demonstrate the recording artist agreed to look solely to the White Rabbit Records.  As such, the exception does not apply and Alice is liable.

                             Grace

Not only are promoters liable for pre-formation transactions, but partners are liable as well. Grace is a co-owner in a business for profit, so she could be liable as a partner.

                             Lewis

There is also a pretty good chance that Lewis may be held liable as a co-owner for a business for profit even though he only invested.  However, under Timberline approach passive investors are not co-owners so they cannot be liable as partners. Here, it could go either way for Lewis depending on the jurisdiction and whether they adopt the Timberline approach.  There hasn’t been substantial compliance, so Lewis is still on the hook for the liable.

                             White Rabbit Records

As for White Rabbit Records, they did not exist so they could not be held liable, unless they assumed the liability after they came into existence. Pursuant to Section 202 of the ULLCA – filing of the articles of incorporation is conclusive proof that the organizers satisfied all conditions precedent to the creation of a limited liability company.  However, the articles were not filed till April 22, after the recording K was executed.

 

Liabilities W/Respect to the Lease

                             Alice:

Here, Alice would be liable as a general partner since she is a co-owner in a business for profit.

        Grace:

        Grace could be liable as a promoter for the same reasons Alice is liable for the recording contract. Grace, however, may be able to argue that when the lease was signed they had substantially fulfilled the requirements for formation and as such it should be found that the entity was in existence under the de facto doctrine and she should therefore not be liable. (SEE American Vending case below)

Lewis:

Again, Lewis liability will depend on the jurisdiction. One view is that he is a co-owner in a business for profit.  Another view (the Timberline approach) is that he is only a passive investor and should not be liable.  There is no control by him, so it would make sense that he was only a limited partner.

White Rabbit Records:

Here, White Rabbit Records still did not exist so they could not be held liable, unless they assumed the liability after they came into existence

 

3.1.2 – Would this change anything if it was a LLP instead of an LLC?  Grace/Alice would be liable as a GP.  The question is about Lewis. 

 

                      b.    Traditional Approach

                             i.      Goodman v. Darden, Doman & Stafford Associates

A contract to renovate an apartment building was executed between partnership and not-yet-formed corporation. When problems developed, the partnership served the promoter of corporation with demand for arbitration of the contract. Promoter then brought action for stay of arbitration and order dismissing him from arbitration.

The Superior Court found that promoter was not party individually to contract, and thus, not proper party to arbitration proceedings, and partnership appealed. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) promoter had burden of proving mutual intent that he was not to be held personally liable on contract, and (2) facts that partnership contracted with unformed corporation and made checks payable to such corporation were insufficient to meet promoter's burden of showing mutual intent to release, and thus, promoter was required to participate in arbitration proceedings.

Class Notes

a.    The general rule is that when a promoter makes a K for the benefit of a contemplated corp., the promoter is personally liable on the K and remains liable even after the corporation is formed.

b.    Restatement 326 – Principal Know to Be Nonexistent or Incompetent – states that unless otherwise, agreed, a person who, in dealing with another, purports to act as agent for a principal whom both know to be nonexistent or wholly incompetent, becomes a party to such K

c.    Exception:  is if the other party knew the corporation was not yet formed and nevertheless agreed to hold only the corporation liable and not to hold the promoter personally liable.

d.    Case law is harsh on the promoter – usually finding personal liability

e.    Unless there is a release from liability by the third party and an agreement to accept that liability by the corporation the promoter will remain liable

f.     Lesson for promoters is to make sure that they ensure that 3rd party makes it crystal clear that they will only look to the corporation

g.    Restatement Section 320 and 321 may factor in when determining liability

h.    The corporation is not liable if it did not exist unless after it came into existence it adopted the K (i.e., corporation cannot be bound by acts before its existence it can only be liable for actions after it came into existence).

i.      If the corporation accepts the fruits of the K entered into before its existence then it may be held liable by ..

 

ii.     Dwinell’s Central Neon v. Cosmopolitan Chinook Hotel

Sign company brought action against partnership for breach of contract. The Superior Court entered summary judgment for sign company, holding partnership liable as a general partnership.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that: (1) since there was no compliance with Limited Partnership Act at time partnership entered into contract with sign company, partnership was liable as a general partnership as a matter of law; (2) sign company's duty to maintain sign was discharged by partnership's material breach of contract in failing to make monthly payments, and (3) court properly shifted burden to partnership to disclose existence of material issues of fact to rebut motion for summary judgment.

Class Notes

a.      Note 5/6 page 168.  The corporation is not liable for contracts that happened before the formalities in formation were completed. IT must affirmatively adopt the contracts after it comes into existence.  Can be done expressly or by ratification (implicitely.) 

b.      The promoter can assign the contract to the corporation, but remains liable unless the corporation accepts the contracts.  This would indemnify the promoter.

b.    In effect, the ruling in this case was somewhat punitive b/c the Ds were punished for noncompliance. However, in other K cases we have seen that notice may keep the Ds from being liable.

c.    This case was decided under the old act

d.    Legislative framework did not require strict compliance but it required at least substantial compliance.  Everything is done according to the rules, this would be considered substantial compliance.

e.    Under the old statute, the effect of subsequent compliance limited liability after the substantial compliance – there was no relation back

f.     The old Act placed no importance on reliance, but reliance is relevant in the Revised ULPA

g.    In the RULPA, § 3.04 deals with persons erroneously believing themselves to be a limited partner

i.      Under 304, person may be liable to third parties you deal with, who believe in good faith that you are a general partner

ii.        However, if person causes a certificate of limited partnership or a certificate of amendment to be filed or withdraws they will not be liable prospectively, but may still be liable retrospectively

iii.      TRLPA 3.04(a)  requires within a reasonable time.  (NOT ON EXAM, but is on the BAR).  RULPA 3.04

 

                      c.    Interactions of Statutes and Common Law

i.        Problem 3.2Liability of Person Erroneously Believing Themselves to Be a LP[KS1] 

Investor invested $ in Widgets, Ltd. At the time of the investment, Investor signed a Certificate and Agreement of Limited Partnership that specified that Investor would be a limited partner in Widgets, Ltd. Unknown to Investor, Widgets, Ltd. began doing business without filing a Certificate.  After six months, Widgets, Ltd. distributed $1,000 in profits to Investor. After Investor received the profits distribution, Investor learned that Widgets, Ltd. was not a limited partnership.

Despite learning that Widgets, Ltd. was not a limited partnership, Investor took no action to procure the filing of the Certificate of Limited Partnership for Widgets, Ltd., nor did Investor withdraw from equity participation in the business.  In fact, Investor continued to take distributions of profits after Investor learned the business was not a limited partnership.

Widgets is now insolvent, and two of its creditors have sued Investor, seeking to hold investor personally liable for Widgets, Ltd.’s debts. Alan sold on open account goods worth $10,000 to Widgets, Ltd. after Investor had received the first distribution of profits, but before Investor learned there was no limited partnership.  Betty loaned Widgets, Ltd. $25,000, after Investor had learned there was no limited partnership, and after Investor had received further distributions of profits.

Assume that neither Alan nor Betty knew of Investor’s involvement with Widgets Ltd. Under the ULPA, is Investor liable to either Alan or Betty? Under the RULPA?

        Timeline of Events

i.      Initial distribution of profits

ii.     Allan extends credit (10k) to Widgets

iii.    Investor learns there is no limited partnership

iv.    Further distribution to Investor

vi.    Betty extends credit to Widgets

 

                                    Answer to Problem 3.2

This problem deals with the issue whether a person erroneously believing himself/herself to be a limited partners is subject to liability as a general partner.

Liability to Alan

 

There is no C/L reason to hold him liable, since there is no control by Investor.  Participatrion as a co-owner, then there could be a C/L claim as a partner.   There is no actual authority as a partner, There is no liability under the old act.

 

Under Section 304(a) of the RULPA, a person who makes a contribution to a business enterprise and erroneously but in good faith believes that he/she has become a limited partner in the enterprise is not a general partner in the enterprise and is not bound by its obligations by making the contribution, receiving distributions or exercising any rights of a limited partner. The “good faith” requirement is determined under an objective standard and is measured at the time the contribution was made.  The facts demonstrate that Investor had a good faith belief that he was a limited partner as evidenced by the Certificate and Agreement of Limited Partnership that he signed before making the contribution.  Accordingly, under Section 304 of the ULPA Investor would not be liable as a general partner simply because he made the investment and received a distribution.  Investor would be treated as a limited partner and under Section 303 limited partners are not liable for partnership debts/obligations.

Alan may argue that Investor was made aware of the mistake and he did not take the appropriate corrective action and should therefore be held liable. Section 304(a) goes on to say that when a person ascertains the mistake (i.e., that they are in fact not a limited partner) they 1) must cause an appropriate certificate of limited partnership or a certificate of amendment to be executed and filed or 2) withdraw from future equity participation to escape liability as a general partner.  The facts show that Investor did neither. However, Investor was not aware of the mistake until after Alan loaned the money so Investor should be relieved from liability to Alan.

 

Alan didn’t know about Investor’s involvement, so there was no reliance by Alan.  If Alan an relied on Investor’s involvement, then there would have been liability.

 

                                    Liability to Betty

With respect to Betty, Investor learned of the mistake before Betty made her loan, therefore Investor would have to take corrective action to be relieved from liability.  The old statute required prompt remedial action.  The facts show that Investor did not act quickly to remedy the situation so he would probably be liable under the old statute. The new statute, however, trades speed of corrective action for reliance on part of the third person that the investor was a general partner.  The facts do not show that Betty made the loan in reliance that Investor was a general partner and therefore Investor would not liable to Betty under the new statute.

 

There is no amount of time specified in this problem, so it is unclear if this was done quickly or not.  § 11 requires prompt, 304(a) doesn’t mention prompt, BUT CARSON BELIEVES THAT PROMPT IS IMPLIED BY THE ‘GOOD FAITH’ PART OF THE STATUTE.  We would need to know the period of time.   Case law states that 1 year is not disposative of being prompt.  < 1 year, you may be able to take curative action.

 

 

 

                             ii.     Briargate Condominium Ass’n, Inc. v. Carpenter

a.    Condominium association brought suit against partner seeking to hold her liable as general partner for assessments, which had not been paid by partnership which owned several condominium units. The U.S. District Court held partner liable, and she appealed.

b.    The Court of Appeals held that: (1) if partner, at time she initially joined and contributed to partnership, lacked "good faith" belief that she had joined as limited partner, she was liable for assessments, but if she had such a "good faith" belief, her notice of withdrawal effectively cut off liability for any fees accrued after such notice, and (2) partner was not personally liable for assessments accrued before her notice of withdrawal from the partnership, unless association actually believed in good faith that she was a general partner at time it transacted business with partnership and subject liabilities were incurred.

Class Notes

a.    Section 304 of the ULPA deals with person erroneously believing themselves to be a limited partner

b.    Under 304(a) a person is not liable to a 3rd party if they believe in good faith that they are a limited partner

c.    However, if the person determines that they are in fact not a limited partner they must take remedial action to escape liability as a general partner

Under 304(b), they will be held liable if there is reliance by a 3rd party up until there was a withdrawal by the limited partner.

d.    There is no liability if a certificate is filed or there is a w/drawl from equity participation they will not be held liable (see rule)

e.    This case is favorable to limited partners. The trend is not to hold limited partners liable. Section 303(a) is a limited exception for finding liability – only where person participates in control of business are they liable as a general partner.

f.     Here the court adopted the objective good faith test

g.    In this case we had good faith as well as corrective action

h.    Under the old act you could renounce or cure but it had to be done promptly

i.      Here, Carpenter delayed almost a year

j.      However, the revised act trades speed for credit and reliance (i.e., under revised act corrective action does not need to be taken promptly, rather you look to see if there is reliance)

k.     TX states that you must cure within a reasonable time

k.       TX act also requires knew or should have known – this shows it is the objective used to determine if there has been good faith

l.          Duty to return profits already received?  No, only to quit receiving future distributions.

m.     Subjective or objective test for good faith.  To avoid the “empty head” problem, there must be an objective standard read into the test.  Most of these disputes are commercial activities, so there is likely to be some degree of reliance. 

n.       Objective Test.  Takes a look at ALL the facts.  We are setting a floor which we won’t go below, but there might be a higher standard for someone else (like a lawyer who is trained to do this stuff).

 

                             iii.    American Vending Services, Inc. v. Morse

a.    The Morses entered into a K to sale their carwash to Durbano and Garn, who were acting as officers of AVSI.  The K was executed on July 10, 1985, but the Articles of Incorporation for AVSI were not filed until August of 1985.

b.    When Durbano and Garn breached the K the Morses sought personal liability of D&G since the corp. did not legally exist at the time the K was executed

c.    The trial court dismissed the Morses’ claim against D&G finding that their actions constituted a bona fide attempt to organize the corp. and thus AVSI was a de facto corp., which meant D&G could not be personally liable

d.    The court of appeals reversed the trial courts decision finding that de facto corporations were extinguished by Utah’s Business Corp. Act and that D&G could not claim corp. by estoppel b/c they knew the corp. did not exist.

                                    Class Notes

                                    a.    This case focuses on the problems of incorporation

b.    This is an important topic b/c of the limited liability company – there is no extensive case law on limited liability companies so the analog is corporate law

c.    Delaware statute is on LLCs is closer to corporate form but the model act on LLCs is closer to the partnership act

d.    When looking for a name for your company you do a search and if there is a conflict you can change your name or acquire the rights. Here, there was an existing corporation that used the name sought - American Food Service – when they filed. So there initial Articles were not accepted.

e.    A de jure corporation exist when there is strict compliance with the statutory framework, which was not the case here.

f.     The common law doctrine of the de facto corporation has three elements

i.      a statute in existence by which incorporation was legally possible,

        ii.     a colorable/bona fide attempt to comply with the statute, and

        iii.    some actual use or exercise of corporate privileges

iv.    some courts would add a forth – the 3rd party dealt with the corp. and not the individual

g.    If recognized the corporation may be bound by the authorized acts of its agents after the elements are satisfied. Also, importantly the agent is off the hook if the principal is disclosed.

h.    Corporation can be bound if it is a corporation de jure or de facto

i.      Limited liability which exist for S/H’s in de jure corporations also exist in de facto corporations

j.      Here the courts found that the elements of a de facto corporation existed. However, there was a state business incorporation act that extinguished the de facto corporation doctrine

k.     So in this jurisdiction, unless you get the certificate back from the secretary of state you are not a corporation

l.      Courts have made a distinction b/w passive investors and persons active in the business of the firm (Timberline Equipment Co., Inc.)

i.      The effect of this would be to have a de facto limited partnership rather than a de facto general partnership

ii.     Remember the orthodox view was that if an organization had not achieved de facto status, and the P was not estopped to attack the validity of the corporate status of the corporation, all S/Hs were liable as partners

iii.    The Timberline court rejected this orthodox view

iv.    They held a passive investor could not be liable as a partner, rather only one who actively participated could be held liable

m.   In this question w/regard to the question of corporation by estoppel the lead opinion is actually the minority opinion in Anglo-American jurisprudence

n.    The concurring opinion is the majority view in our modern jurisprudence

o.    Corporation by estoppel is inconsistent with the common law rule of estoppel which requires 3 elements (check to see if this is right)

a.         Conduct that misleads another

b.         Causes them to reasonably believe the misleading information and

c.         To change their position to their detriment

p.    In the context of corporations there is usually no misleading, rather it is a question of fairness

q.      Estoppel as a defense has only be recognized where the S/H’s reasonably believe a corporation de jure exist

r.        Under the previous versions, 46 and 156 had been adopted by Utah, which essentially abolishes the de facto corporation.

s.      Note 4 (p. 198) § 2.04 seems to put the de facto corporation back on the table in very limited form. This has no effect for tort claims.  If you are not de jure, then you are out of luck.  You eare either de jure or not.  Most commentators believe this to be forcefull in the context of voluntary transactions (i.e. contracts).  They must believe in good faith that there is a de jure corporation. 

t.        § 2.04 – Comes in an re-establishes a de facto corporation for certain circumstances.   This is also substantial compliance question.

u.      You are a de jure corporation when the articles are stamped.

v.       Corporation by Estoppel. 

a.      If a 3rd party relied on the existence of the corporation, then the 3rd party can’t then go after the individuals within the corporation.

w.     In Texas, there is no liability if you take the reasonable steps and if you don’t know that there is a de jure corporation.  In tort claims,  they find the defendants as they are, and the individuals may be found liable.

x.       There is no estoppel unless there is at least a de facto corporation.  Some jurisdictions state that there can be.  In Texas, there must be at  least a reasonable belief that a de jure corporation has been formed.  Also, the 3rd party has to have manifested a reliance on the corporation, not the individual.    Where both are present, in a majority of jurisdictions, you can establish corporation by estoppel

y.       What is required for 2.04 -- Transaction

 

                             iv.    Ruggio v. Vining

a.      Lender brought action against limited liability company and majority shareholder to collect on promissory note.

b.      This is a parallel to the old statute 1.46. This is a Florida Statute which reads ”Everyone who acts without authority for a corporation is jointly and severally liable.”

c.      It was not clear from the facts that Ruggio acted on behalf of the LLC.  Vining knew that the LLC hadn’t been formed.

b.    The Circuit Court entered default judgment against company and granted summary judgment in favor of lender on claim against shareholder. Shareholder appealed.

c.    The District Court of Appeal held that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether lender was assuming to act as limited liability company when negotiating loan for company, whether lender was estopped or waived his claim against majority shareholder, and whether execution of promissory note was incidental for limited liability company's organization or was a subscription or contribution, thus precluding summary judgment.

Class Notes

a.    Here, the court allowed the common law defense to waiver and estoppel notwithstanding the express statutory provision that all persons assuming to act will be held jointly and severally liable

b.    If the 3rd party has knowledge that who or what they are dealing with is not a legal entity or corporation, in that it has not yet been legally formed, then they will not be able claim they have been misled into believing that corporation existed.  This in turn means that they can’t hold the people personally liable on the debt

 

IV.   Actual Authority of Agents and Its Consequences

       A.    Introduction

1.    Restatement § 7 – Authority is the power of the agent to affect the legal relations of the principal by acts done in accordance with the principal’s manifestation of consent to him

2.    Power and authority should be distinguished – authority is manifested through some type of consent and power is the ability to accomplish an act w/out consideration of how, when, and under what circumstances. In this sense, power is broader than authority.

3.    There may be power to bind a principal but no authority to bind a principal, but nevertheless in some cases the principal may still be bound if the agent had no authority

4.    Actual Authority

a.     Actual authority has two branches: express and implied

b.    Importantly, actual authority depends upon a manifestation of consent by the principal communicated to the agent

c.    The manifestation may be written, it may be oral or it may depend upon the surrounding facts and circumstances

d.    Even if it would be unreasonable for 3rd party to assert authority if authority actually exists the principal would be bound

e.    Once someone is appointed as Pres. or CEO of a company there is a grant of authority to execute the duties of that office which in turn allows that person to conduct ordinary business of the co. and thus bind it (this is a form of actual authority)

5.    Apparent Authority

a.     Apparent authority depends upon the communication of the principal to 3rd parties

b.    Moreover, with apparent authority the agent cannot determine their authority, the authority must have as its source a manifestation from the principal

c.    Actual/real authority and apparent authority leave the principal in the same position – bound where it exist

d.    The legal difference in significance b/w the two is not that great in most circumstances (both types of authority will allow the agent to bind the principal)

e.    A course of conduct not countermanded may be reasonably construed as being a grant to the agent to undertake such conduct on behalf of the principal

f.     If you place someone in the office of Pres. and state they cannot act in certain ways, them being in the office is still a manifestation to 3rd parties that the person occupying the office has the authority to conduct ordinary business, so the principal is bound whether the occupant is actually the Pres. or only dressed up as the Pres (this is apparent authority)

g.    Apparent authority really has two kind of branches: 1) course of dealing (say there have been a few transactions in past) and 2) inherent authority (if corp. paints a picture that you are Pres. then it will be seen that you have inherent authority)

               6.    Incidental Authority

a.    There is also incidental authority – where there is authority that embraces all that is incidental (e.g., authority to sell land would include authority to receive consideration – authority to teach at STCL would include authority to give exams and give grades)

b.    For Exam- if you state it is implied or apparent authority you should define it rather than merely attaching that label

 

       B.    Express Actual Authority

               1.    General Info

a.    Because of the uncertainty and limitations of language, interpretation of written instruments is often difficult

b.    It may be discovered that he principal and agent did not have a mutual understanding as to the extent of the authority granted

 

               2.    Problem 4.1a – Powers of Attorney and Actual Authority of Agents

You are an associate in a law firm. Your supervising partner assigns you the following file. Leslie Owner owns a small printing shop.  Owner is married and has two young children. Owner is also a member of the National Guard.  Owner’s unit has just been called into active duty, and is being assigned to Bosnia as a part of the United Nations peace-keeping forces.  Owner wants to execute a general power-of-attorney giving her husband the power to run the printing shop while she is in Bosnia.  She also wants her husband to manage her investments, which are her separate property. What should be your concerns in drafting the power of attorney?

 

                      Answer to Problem 4.1a

In drafting a power of attorney for Leslie Owner’s husband, under the circumstances presented by the problem, there are a couple of concerns.  First, you are going to want to determine the scope of the power of attorney.  Then once the scope is defined you must think of possible contingencies that may occur and determine if the scope of authority will apply to those contingencies.

 

Powers of attorney are strictly construed and will not apply to powers not clearly granted.  Consequently, a general grant of authority to deal with the ordinary course of business will not include the power to do extraordinary things.  For example, if Owner’s husband decided to sale the business or transfer the business by making a gift these transactions would not be covered by a general grant of authority.  Such extraordinary actions would require a specific grant of authority.     

Therefore, you would have to consult with Owner and determine what, if any, additional powers she would want to specifically grant her husband in addition to the general grant of authority to conduct ordinary business matters.

Note, with a business you would want to focus on what things require a resolution by the board of directors and include that list (meet with client to make sure they want to give that authority)

 

                      Problem 4.1b - Powers of Attorney and Actual Authority of Agents

You are an associate in a law firm. Your supervising partner assigns you the following file. Grandpa Jones is retired, and has substantial assets that greatly exceed the current exemptions for the imposition of estate taxes. Grandpa is 80 years old, and has just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  Grandpa is too preoccupied with his health to pay proper attention to his assets. He also knows that w/his advanced age and his Parkinson’s, it is likely that in the next year or so he will become unable to manage his affairs. To ensure that his property will be managed properly, Grandpa wishes to give his daughter a general power-of-attorney. What should be your concerns in drafting the power of attorney?

                     

Answer to Problem 4.1b

Here you would have to address life, death and disability issues such as termination of life support, etc… With regard to these issues you would probably want to make sure his family is in agreement and get some written acknowledgement in that regard. The power of attorney would have to make express grants in this regard.

Another issue is the competency issue. The Parkinson’s disease may prevent Grandpa from making competent decisions. So you will want to make sure that the daughter’s power of attorney gives her the sole authority to make decisions.  You do not want Grandpa’s incompetence interfering with her decision-making authority.  

You will also need to determine what exactly are his assets and how Grandpa wants to dispose of those assets.  Does he want avoidance of estate taxes by giving away stock to the heirs so that they get a stepped up basis in accordance with disposition. Also who does he want the money given to at death and how does he wanted it transferred.

You would also want some specific language on how to manage money for living expenses, medical expenses, etc… Depending on amount of these expenses it may be deemed an extraordinary action.  And extraordinary things you would require a specific grant of authority. 

 

               3.    King v. Bankerd

a.    Landowner sued agent for damages, alleging breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with transfer of property. The Circuit Court granted landowner's motion for summary judgment. Agent appealed. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed.

b.    On appeal, the Court of held that:

(1)   agent holding broad power of attorney lacks power to make gift of principal's property unless that power is expressly conferred, arises as a necessary implication from conferred powers, or is clearly intended by parties as evidenced by surrounding facts and circumstances;

(2)   power of attorney authorizing attorney as agent to "convey, grant, bargain and/or sell" subject property "on such terms as to him may seem best," did not expressly authorize gratuitous transfer of property and would not be so interpreted; and

(2)   agent's conduct could only be "reasonable" if principal intended for agent to give property away.

(3)   The court tries to determine the “intent” of the person expressing the power of attorney.

                      Class Notes

a.    This is an important case b/c it sets forth the rules dealing w/express grants of authority

b.    The strongest form of an express grant of authority is a writing and a power of attorney is a vehicle for doing that

c.    The writing requirement is quite limited – the real property law in some jurisdictions will require writing

d.    There is also the equal dignity rule – if activity requires there to be a writing then the grant of authority to do the activity must also be in writing

e.    The rules of interpretation for written powers of attorney are set forth in this case

f.     The focus must be on the intent of the principal – the intent of the principal is the most important consideration

g.    To determine intent, language used should be interpreted in light of surrounding circumstances

h.    Powers of attorney are strictly construed and will not apply to powers not clearly granted

i.      So, the power to sell does not embrace and include the power to give away

j.      Powers of gift must either be expressly stated, arise by necessary implication from a grant of power, or be clearly intended from light of all surrounding circumstances. Here, there was no evidence that Bankerd intended any authority to make a gift

j.           Note Cases page 207.

a.      Gifts to children should be within the general power of attorney.

b.      Von Wedel   -- The grants must be within the “grants within the ordinary course of business” and a gift was not within that grant.

c.      Note 4 on page 207.  Restatement 47, the agent would be authorized to take such acts as the agent “reasonably believes necessary to prevent substantial loss to the principal with respect to the interests committed to the agent’s care.”

k.         See note 5 on p. 208 – issue was whether agent could file divorce for mentally incompetent person

i.      Here, the majority adopted the view that there was no power to grant authority to an agent – it was too personal a matter

ii.     As a matter of public policy the grant could not be upheld – the principal was w/out power to grant to an agent the ability to bring a divorce action

ii.     The only exception is where the ward is competent as to the separation matter but not to the property matter

b.     

      

       C.    Implied Actual Authority

               1.    General Info

                      a.    All forms of authority that are not express are necessarily implied

                      b.    Actual authority might be implied-in-fact or even implied-in-law

      

               2.    Problem 4.2 – Implied Actual Authority of an Agent

When its building needed painting, Church hired Bill to paint it. Church had hired Bill on various projects, including the last painting of the Church building. While working on those projects, Bill had often asked his brother Sam to help out as needed. In fact, Same had helped Bill with painting portions of the building that were very high and difficult for one person to paint.  When it came time to paint those portions of the building, Bill asked for permission to hire another worker. Although Church suggested that Bill might use Gary, who was hard to contact, Bill asked Sam to help out again. The morning Bill and Sam came to paint, Bill discovered that there was not enough paint, and sent Sam to the hardware store to purchase more paint. Does Sam have either express or implied authority to purchase the paint on behalf of the Church?

 

                      Answer to Problem 4.2

This problem presents an issue similar to that raised in Mill Street Church of Christ v. Hogan.  Restatement (Second) of Agency § 35 provides that unless otherwise agreed, authority to conduct a transaction includes authority to do acts, which are incidental to it, usually accompany it, or are reasonably necessary to accomplish it.  RA2 § 43 provides (1) consent by the principal in conduct of an agent whose previously conferred authorization reasonably might include it, indicates that the conduct was authorized; if clearly not included in the authorization, consent in it indicates affirmance. (2) Acquiescence by the principal in a series of acts by the agent indicates authorization to perform similar acts in the future. According to these rules, an express grant gives rise to implied actual authority.  The extent of this implied actual authority will depend upon various factors including: whether the agent reasonably believes because of present or past conduct by principal that principal wishes him to act in a certain way or have certain authority, the nature of the task or job, the existence of prior similar practices, specific conduct by the principal in the past permitting the agent to exercise similar powers, and custom and usage in the industry. Here, Bill was given authority to paint the church. Bill had done previous work for the Church and in the past Bill had hired help.  The Church knew he hired help and they allowed it.  Therefore, under Section 35 and 43 Bill had the implied actual authority to hire Sam.

After determining that Bill had the authority to hire Sam, we must then determine whether Sam had the authority to buy the paint.  Since Sam was hired w/in the authority of Bill, Sam was authorized to paint and buying paint is incidental to painting.  So Sam would have had the implied actual authority to buy the paint.

 

A subagent has the same authority as the principle agent.  § 43 requires that the primary agent limit the authority of the subagent if it is his desire for the subagent NOT to have the same level of authority.   When a principle bestows the authority on a person, the principle is sending a signal to that person, and to 3rd persons as to their authority.

 

               3.    Mill Street Church of Christ v. Hogan

a.    Church sought review of Workers' Compensation Board determination that injured worker was an employee of the church.

b.    The Court of Appeals held that person hired by church to paint the building had implied authority to hire his brother to help him.

c.    Brother was injured and question was whether he was EE for worker compensation purposes

Class Notes

a.    Brother’s status turns on whether Bill was an agent for the Church. There was no express authority.

c.    Restatement 2nd Section 35 (when incidental authority is inferred) states “unless otherwise agreed, authority to conduct a transaction includes authority to do acts which are incidental to it, usually accompany it, or are reasonably necessary to accomplish it

 

c.    In this is case it was clearly contemplated that Bill would need help so under the circumstances it can be decided that consent was given by the Church to Bill to hire a helper, so he has implied authority.

d.    What was his authority?

i.       Apparent Authority – Apparent authority is the powere to affect the legfal relations of another person by transactions with third persons, professedly as agent for the other, arising from and in accordance with the other’s manifestations to such third persons.  RsA2 § 8

ii.     Implied authorityActual authority circumstantially proven which the principal actually intended the agent to possess and includes such powers and are practically necessary to carry out te duties actually delegated.

iii.    Apparent Authority – Not actual authority bust is the authority the agent is held out by the principal as possessing.  It is a matter of attearances on which 3rd parties come to rely.

       D.    Duty of Loyalty

               1.    Intro

a.    Section 13 of the Restatement 2nd of Agency (Agent as a Fiduciary) states an agent is a fiduciary with respect to matters within the scope of his agency.  The fiduciary owes the utmost faith and  loyalty and full disclosure of all material facts that bear to the interests of the agent.

b.   

c.    A fundamental principal is that agency is a consensual relationship either by express agreement or by inference

d.    In the absence of an agreement the burden is on the party seeking to establish such a relationship

e.    Agent would have to disclose all material information for the principal to make an informed decision as to whether he wanted to consent to the agent’s activity.

f.      Debtor and creditor is something that may be relegated to an express contract.  The principle-agent relationship would be too difficult to put into a contract since the relationship is a flexible one.

g.    The duty of loyalty cannot be contracted away.  A general declination (“The principle has no duty of loyalty to the agent…) would be considered void as against public policy.  Specific things can be limited via the contract

h.    Also look at Sections 387 – 396, which deal with duty of loyalty 

i.       387 – An agent is subject to a duty to the principal to act solely for the benefit of the principal in all matters connected with his agency.

ii.     388  – Duty to account of profits arising out of employment.  Unless otherwisea greed, an agent who makes a profit in connection with transactions conducted by him on behalf of the principal is under a duty to give such profit to the principal.  EXPENSES WILL NOT BE INCLUDED (i.e. THEY ARE NOT PROFITS)  The profits are held in a constructive trust for the principal.

iii.    389  – Acting as adverse party without principal’s consent.

iv.   390  – Acting as adverse party with principal’s consent.

v.     391  – Acting for adverse party without principal’s consent.  Can’t do it.

vi.   392  – Acting for multiple parties with principals’ consent.  Must make all facts known to the parties.

vii.     393  – Competition as to Subject matter of Agency.  Can’t compete with principal.

viii.    394  – Acting for One with Conflicting Interests.

ix.   395  – Cannot use or Diclosing confidential information.

x.     395  – Using confidential information after the termination of Agency relationship.

               2.    Problem 4.3

                      See problem 1.2

 

               3.    Green v. H&R Block, Inc. (Part 2)

a.    This part of the case dealt with whether, assuming their was an agency relationship, that there was a breach of the principal-agent relationship for failing to disclose various financial relationships

b.    The court of appeals held that a showing of harm was not required for claim of breach of fiduciary duty

 

               4.    Schock v. Nash

a.    Trustee of grantor's estate and beneficiary under grantor's will brought action challenging transfers made by attorney-in-fact pursuant to a durable power of attorney (POA).

b.    The Court of Chancery ruled that attorney violated her fiduciary duty by transferring grantor's property to herself and her family, and ordered attorney and her family to pay restitution. Attorney appealed.

c.    The Supreme Court held that:

(1)   attorney had burden to establish that grantor, after full disclosure of facts, consented to attorney's gratuitous transfers to herself and her family members;

(2)   POA agreement did not give attorney express authority to transfer property to herself and her family, as required for such transfers to be valid;

(3)   rule on admissibility of extrinsic evidence regarding scope of POA is not "bright line" rule;

(4)   even if POA had been ambiguous, extrinsic evidence did not support finding that attorney had authority to transfer grantor's assets to herself and her family; and

(5)   restitution orders issued against attorney's family members were supported by evidence, even if family members were unaware that transfers were improper.

                      Class Notes

a.    Here, Schock became an assistant and an advisor of an elderly widow, Ms. Dever. During the relationship Irma Schock was given a general power of attorney to handle Ms. Dever’s matters. Before Ms. Dever’s death, Irma transferred most of Ms. Dever’s property to herself and her family

b.    A common principle of agency law is that the agent has a duty to act in the best interest of the principal and solely for the benefit of the principal

c.    An agent cannot take unfair advantage of their position

d.    Transfers to a trustee are voidable unless there is:

       i.      approval by a court or

               ii.     consent by the grantor (directly or indirectly by waiver)

e.    The burden of proof in this regard is upon the trustee

f.     Powers of attorney are strictly construed – more so than ordinary Ks and all embracing language does not include extraordinary matters. To have power to do extraordinary things you must have an express grant of power

g.    Gifts are in a category all there own – they are more suspect

h.    Under the bright line rule gifts to by agent must be expressly and clearly authorized in writing – no extrinsic evidence will be considered (TX follows this rule)

i.      This court rejected the bright line rule as being inflexible.

j.      Instead of using the bright line rule the court focused on the principal’s intent, in which case all extrinsic evidence may be relevant

k.     However, the court did set the bar high – it wanted quantitative and qualitative evidence – there must be evidence of both consent; as well as full disclosure; as well as knowledge of all material facts

l.      Under Restatement 2nd, Section 390 – disclosure of an adverse act is not sufficient.  There is a further duty to insure that the principal has impartial advice with regard to consent

m.   Accordingly, where there is a close relationship there is a burden on the agent to show that the consent is not the result of undue influence

o.    In this case, the consent was on a preprinted form raising the question of whether it in fact embodied the principal’s intent – the fact that it was boiler plate discounts the notion that the principal understood what they were consenting to – it is not the principal’s language

p.     

 

               5.    Rogers v. Robinson, Masters, Ryan, Brumund & Belom

a.    Physician brought action against attorneys, who been retained by physician's insurer to defend medical malpractice action against him, to recover damages allegedly suffered due to fact that attorneys settled the action without physician's express permission and knowledge.

b.    The Circuit Court entered summary judgment for attorneys, and physician appealed.

c.    The Appellate Court reversed and remanded.

d.    After allowing attorneys' petition for leave to appeal, the Supreme Court held that attorneys had duty to make full disclosure to physician in regard to intent to settle the litigation without physician's consent and contrary to his express instructions, regardless of extent of insurer's authority to settle without physician's consent.

                      Class Notes

a.    Attorney was representing P and his insurance company and the case was settled without notice to the P and contrary to his instructions. Insurance K gave right to settle without consent. Question was whether attorney breached their duty of loyalty

                      b.    Restatement 2nd Sections 391 and 394 have application here

c.    Under Section 391 – an agent is subject to a duty to his principal not to act on behalf of an adverse party in a transaction connected with his agency w/out the principal’s knowledge

d.    Under Section 394 – an agent is subject to a duty not to act or to agree to act during the period of his agency for person whose interest conflict with those of the principal in matters in which the agent is employed, even if the A is not acting in a transaction for the P.

e.    Here, there was a potential conflict of interest and when the settlement issue came up it became an actual conflict

f.     Once a conflict becomes actual there is a different approach to the case

g.    Once conflict came up the attorneys could not continue to represent both unless there was knowing, informed consent

h.    So the attorney was liable for damages proximately caused by breach of duty

i.      Damages here were the ability to receive more money (you could bring in experts to show that settlement should have brought in more money)

j.      Professor says this cases show a lot about power of attorneys – it may be on exam

k.     Remember for anything extraordinary you need express consent

l.      These cases also show that attorneys are agents – attorneys are to do what the principal tells them to do

l.           The attorney has a right not to represent someone for any reason but once you undertake representation you have a duty of loyalty to your client

m.      The lawyer’s conflict was only POTENTIAL until the actual settlement discussion.  After full disclosure of the conflict, and there was agreement (consent), it would be ok to continue. Take a look at the model code to confirm that the professional rules do require it.

n.         § 392 – Acting or Adverse party with Principal’s Consent.  An agent who acts for two parties has a duty of fairness to both of the and should disclose facts that would affect the the judgment of the parties, EXCEPT when the parties consent.

o.         Even with consent (even in writing), you should be reluctant if one of the parties has significantly less knowledge than the other party. (LC)  If in doubt, a second attorney would be advisible.

        

V.    Power of Agents to Bind the Firm by Unauthorized Acts

       A.    Introduction

               1.    An agent’s power to bind the principal is the agent’s ability to do so

2.    Authority is the power to bind that results from the principal’s manifestations to the agent of the principal’s consent to be bound

3.    Thus an agent authorized to bind the principal has the power to do so

4.    The use of agents to conduct business inevitably involves the risk that agents will sometimes exceed their authority to bind the principal

5.    The question then becomes under what circumstances should the principal – or the 3rd person dealing with the agent – bear the risk of unauthorized actions?

6.    The Restatement explains power to bind by unauthorized acts using the doctrines of apparent authority, estoppel to deny authority, and inherent agency power

7.    Courts use only a single doctrine – “ostensible authority”

8.    All of the Restatement doctrines make similar inquiries:

a.    First, did the 3rd party with whom the agent dealt believe that the principal had consented to the agent binding the principal?

b.    Second, was that belief reasonable under the circumstances?, and

c.    Third, to what extent was the principal responsible for that belief?

 

       B.    Apparent Authority

               1.    Problem 5.1 – Power of Agent to Bind the Firm by Unauthorized Acts - Apparent Authority

P planning to establish a dealership to sell farm machinery.  He hired A to organize and operate the business. A was expressly authorized to collect for machinery sold and to hire and discharge office help, mechanics, and sales people but was expressly forbidden to borrow any money on Palmer’s credit. Palmer supplied the money to establish a bank account in the local bank.  The account was in P’s name, but Adams had authority to write checks on the account.  From time to time, the account was overdrawn by A, but P had no knowledge or notice of the overdrafts.  ON each occasion, A made deposits to cover the overdraft. Subsequently, Palmer discharged A and learned for the first time that the account was overdraw $2k.  The bank brought an action to recover the amount of the overdraft from Palmer. May the bank recover?

Answer to Problem 5.1                    

The use of agents to conduct business inevitably involves the risk that agents will sometimes exceed their authority to bind the principal. The question then becomes under what circumstances should the principal – or the 3rd person dealing with the agent – bear the risk of unauthorized actions? That is the issue here, to what extent should Palmer be liable for the unauthorized acts of Adams.

Generally, a principal, such as Palmer, will be bound by the act of their agent if the agent has the authority to bind the principal.  There are three types of authority – actual authority, apparent authority, and inherent authority.  

Section 7 of the Restatement (Second) of Agency defines actual authority as the power of the agent to affect the legal relations of the principal by acts done in accordance with the principal’s manifestations of consent to him. 

Section 8 defines apparent authority as the power to affect the legal relations of another person by transactions with third persons, professedly as agent for the other, arising from an in accordance with the other’s manifestations to such third persons.

Section 9 defines inherent agency power as power of an agent which is derived not from actual authority, apparent authority or estoppel, but solely from the agency relations and exists for the protection of persons harmed by or dealing with a servant or other agent.

On the facts, we can rule out actual authority b/c Adams, while he was allowed to write checks on the account, he was expressly forbidden to borrow any money on Palmer’s credit.  By over drafting Adams exceeded his actual authority. So the Bank could not recover against Palmer based on Adam’s actual authority.

The bank would then have to look for apparent authority.  For apparent authority you need manifestation and reasonable reliance.  To determine if you have manifestation and reasonable reliance you may look to three sources: direct communications, appointments, and course of dealing. Here, although Adams was given authority to write checks on the account, there was no direct communication that Palmer authorized Adams to overdraft on the account. So the bank could not establish apparent authority through communications, BUT

 

However, Adams seems to have been appointed as general manger. Even though there was a specific limitation on his authority it was not expressly manifested to the Bank as such the Bank could look to the general authority granted to general managers and rely on that. However, the Bank would have to know of the appointment and rely on it and reasonably interpret it – this information may or may not have been made know to the Bank when authorizing Adams to sign checks.

As for course of dealings, Adams had written checks on the account before and on occasion over drafted on the account.  Hence, it seems reasonable for the Bank to have relied on the appearance of Adams’ authority.  Palmer did not know of the prior conduct, but he could have known if he had opened his bank statements.  Because of the prior course of dealings between Adams and the Bank coupled with Palmer’s failure to discover the conduct and his express authority which was given to Adams to write checks on the account, Palmer will likely be held liable for the acts of Adams under his apparent authority. 

The Bank could also rely on the unjust enrichment argument – in that it is not equitable for the Bank to have to loose this money that Palmer has been unjustly enriched by.  Bank could also  rely on estoppel theory based on Palmer’s failure to act in that Palmer probably got notice from the Bank several times that his account was overdrawn. This can support estoppel argument by showing he failed to do anything about it or take appropriate measures, which will estop him from denying the authority of Adams.  This is essentially saying Palmer was negligent in managing the account.

      

               2.    Hamilton Hauling, Inc. v. GAF Corp. – Unauthorized long term contract by A

a.    Bajt was purchasing agent for GAF – Bajt could not execute Ks exceeding $25k or one year in duration. Bajt exceeded his authority and signed a K for 10years. Seller - Hamilton Hauling - brought action against corporation on ten-year purchasing contract executed by corporation's purchasing agent.

b.    The Circuit Court of Jackson County entered judgment on jury verdict in favor of corporation, and Hamilton appealed, challenging appropriateness of jury instructions

c.    The Court of Appeals held that there was no evidence from which it could be concluded that apparent agency authority for purchasing agent to execute contract was created.

Class Notes

a.    Section 8 of Restatement 2nd deals with apparent authority.  It states that apparent authority arises when a principal holds out or manifests to a third party that the agent has the power and the 3rd party reasonably believes that the principal consents to the agent acting

b.    An agent cannot create his or her own authority – this clearly creates some protection for principals. Accordingly, what Bajt said about his authority is not relevant.  You can’t have a putative agent.

c.    This case also illustrates that a 3rd party has some obligation to act reasonably in determining an agent’s authority

d.    There are certain sources for determining agent’s authority

i.      Direct communication from the principal to the third party

ii.     Appointment of an agent to a position

a.    In this context the question becomes what are the generally recognized duties and authority of a person appointed to such a position.  The CEO has the inherent authority to conduct the ordinary business of the enterprise.  This means that the 3rd parties can rely on the authority associated with the position.  This would be considered “inherent authority.”  To be countermaneded, the 3rd party would have to know about the countermand.

b.    By appointment the principal is holding out that person as having the generally recognized duties and authority associated with that position

c.    Principal can limit that by direct communications to 3rd parties

       iii.    Prior acts or course(s) of dealing

e.     Applying these three sources to this case we find

i.      There were no communication b/w GAF and the 3rd party – Hamilton Hauling

ii.     Bajt was appointed as a purchasing agent.  This could be seen as a source of authority to allow Bajt’s conduct to bind GAF.  However, there was a specific limitation on Bajt’s authority, but remember there was no express manifestation of this limitation to the 3rd party

f.     Nevertheless, there are two prongs:  manifestation and reasonableness of reliance

g.    Here it was not usual for the purchasing agent to handle the types of deal done with Hamilton – such deals usually went up the ladder.  Accordingly, it was not reasonable for Hamilton to rely on manifestation

i.       Another argument for the final exam could have been the possible implied ratification of the contract by the accepting of some deliveries of these wood chips by GAF early on.  This argument would fail though because the principal must have known of the long term contract.

j.       The close cases favor the 3rd party.

k.     Other factors:

i.       Course of dealing with the agent, both direct and indirect.

ii.     If the course of dealing is unknown by the 3rd party, then the agent will most likely be held liable.

 

               3.    Fennell v. TLB Kent Company

a.    Employment discrimination action was dismissed and $10,000 settlement agreement was approved by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Louis L. Stanton, J., and plaintiff's request that action be restored to calendar was denied. Plaintiff appealed.

b.    The Court of Appeals held that plaintiff's failure to make any manifestations to defendants' counsel that plaintiff's attorney and his associates were authorized to settle case precluded plaintiff's attorneys from having "apparent authority" to settle employment discrimination case for $10,000 without plaintiff's consent.

 

       C.    Estoppel

               1.    Intro

a.    Section 8B of the Restatement 2nd provides that a principal may be estopped from denying that his agent had authority and may be liable to third persons under certain circumstances

b.    Estoppel may result from a misrepresentation, or within a limited area, from a failure to reveal facts

c.    Estoppel by Misrepresentation

i.      Estoppel by misrepresentation may occur in the field of agency, where a principal represents to another that one has authority to do an act or to make a contract for him, when in fact they have no such authority.

ii.     Ordinarily, in this situation there is apparent authority and not merely estoppel.

iii.    Key Difference between Estoppel and Apparent Authority:

a.    Estoppel can be based on negligence of the principal due to his failure to act or omissions while Apparent authority requires some affirmative conduct or act by the principal.

b.    For Estoppel there must also be not only the reasonable belief by the 3rd party BUT also the 3rd party must have changed their position in the form of detrimental reliance.  (merely entering into a contract will not be sufficient enough to invoke estoppel because it does not serve as a change of position.)

d.    Estoppel by Silence

i.      In many situations one may be deprived of a right of action, be subject to an action or even lose his property by failing to reveal the truth if he knows that another is acting or will act under a misapprehension.

ii.     When one realizes that another is or may come under a misapprehension as to the authority of his agent or the ownership of his property (even if it is a misapprehension for which he is not at fault) he has duty to give information

e.     Illustration of Estoppel

i.      P learns that A, who has no authority or apparent authority to sell P's goods, is negotiating with T as P's agent for their sale. He does nothing although he could easily notify T. T pays A for the goods, as is customary in such a transaction. P is not entitled to recover the goods and is liable to T for the breach of any customary warranty given by A.

 

2.    Problem 5.2 – Estoppel

Merchant is in the business of selling and repairing used stereos. In the ordinary course of business, Buyer buys a stereo from Merchant. Buyer pays Merchant the purchase price and takes delievery of the stereo.  Merchant later discovers that the stereo sold to Buyer was not owned by Merchant, but rather was owned by Owner. Did the merchant have the power to transfer the owner’s title, if:

 

                      a.    Owner left the stereo with Merchant to be repaired

Under the common law mere possession and control of personal property is not enough to convey to 3rd parties any notion of authority or power. Accordingly, under the common law rule the mere fact that Merchant had the stereo in his possession does not allow buyer to assume Merchant has to authority to sale the radio. So under the common law, the Merchant would not have to power to transfer title and Owner would be able to get his stereo back from Buyer.

However, U.C.C. 2-403 provides that any entrusting of possession of goods to a merchant who deals in goods of that kind gives him power to transfer all rights of the entruster to a buyer in the ordinary course of business. The policy supporting this rule is that the person entrusting his property is in the best position to avoid the loss by carefully selecting the person to whom he entrusts his property.  That is to say, voluntarily entrusting goods of same kind that merchant deals with carries with it a certain risk and if the entruster does not protect themselves they will bear the loss. Under the UCC rule Merchant would have the power to transfer the owner’s title in the stereo.   NOTES:  The ucc is designed to protect bonafied purchasers.  You shouldn’t have to trace back the source of the purchase.  This was the ordinary course of business so you couldn’t go after buyer.  The UCC trumps the A&P relationship.

 

b.     Thief stole the stereo from Owner, and sold it to Merchant

Here, the Merchant still would not have the power to transfer owner’s title under the common law rule b/c mere possession is not enough. In this situation, the Merchant may assert that the UCC gave him the power to transfer the owners’ title, but Merchant would have to establish entrustment. Owner may argue that there was no voluntary entrustment b/c stereo was stolen from him. If Owner could prove that Commercial code was not applicable then you go back to common law, which states that possession is not enough.  Can’t go after the Buyer, but could go after the Merchant.   Unless there is some reasonable doubt on the part of the Buyer that it wasn’t a reasonable purchase.

 

Suppose the thief forged documents, and the forgery couldn’t be decerned by the ordinary person. PROBABLY A RED HERING.

 

               3.    Metalworking Machinery Co., Inc. v. Fabco

a.            East Cost sold machine to Metalworking, but Metalworking never picked up the machine. With the passage of time, East Cost decided to sell it to Yoder who in turn sold it to Fabco

b.    Issue is whether Metalworking by leaving the machine in East Cost’s possession, estopped Metalworking from asserting that East Cost did not have the authority to sell it

c.    Court of Common Pleas of Hancock County entered money judgment in favor of owner and against party who purchased machine from original seller. That party appealed.

d.    The Court of Appeals held that mere possession or control of the property by the original seller was not sufficient to estop the real owner from asserting his title against the third party who subsequently purchased that property in good faith, but not in the "ordinary course of business," where real owner committed no affirmative act upon which third party relied, other than leaving machine in possession of original seller for nine months after purchase, of which fact third party was not aware.

                      Class Notes

a.         Section 8 of the Restatement 2nd  deals with estoppel:

(1)   A person who is not otherwise liable as a party to a transaction purported to be done on his account, is nevertheless subject to liability to persons who have changed their positions because of their belief that the transaction was entered into by or for him, if

(a)   he intentionally or carelessly caused such belief, or

(b)   knowing of such belief and that others might change their positions because of it, he did not take reasonable steps to notify them of the facts.

(2)   An owner of property who represents to third persons that another is the owner of the property or who permits the other so to represent, or who realizes that third persons believe that another is the owner of the property, and that he could easily inform the third persons of the facts, is subject to the loss of the property if the other disposes of it to third persons who, in ignorance of the facts, purchase the property or otherwise change their position with reference to it.

(3)   Change of position, as the phrase is used in the restatement of this subject, indicates payment of money, expenditure of labor, suffering a loss or subjection to legal liability

 

e.    Common law rule is that mere possession alone does not convey to 3rd parties any notion of authority or power

                      f.     Common law rule has been changed by the uniform commercial codes

g.    U.C.C. 2-403 provides that in trusting possession of goods to a merchant who deals in goods of the same kind gives the merchant the power to transfer all rights in goods to a buyer in the course of ordinary business (this is legislative rule enacted in derogation of common law, so it must be strictly construed)

h.    Exception to the general rule proscribed by the commercial code is not applicable since East Coast was a manufacturer and like machinery was not sold by it (East Coast was not a merchant dealing in the same kind of goods)

i.      The common law rule applied and as such possession was not enough. Thus, Metalworking prevailed.

 

       D.    Inherent Agency Power

               1.    Intro

a.    Arguably, the principal should not be liable for actions of its agent that are not authorized, b/c when the agent exceeds their authority the agent does not really serve as agent as to those excessive activities

b.    However, b/w the innocent 3rd party and the innocent principal, the losses caused by the agent’s misconduct must be borne

 

               2.    Dupuis v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation

a.      Mortgagor brought breach of contract and other claims against Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), which had purchased note and mortgage from bankrupt lender, and FHLMC counterclaimed to collect on note and foreclose mortgage.

b.      The District Court held that:

(1)   despite FHLMC's liability under agency law principles for lender's breaches of contract, Merill doctrine, protecting federal entity from agent's acts in excess of actual authority, provided complete defense to FHLMC on all mortgagor's contract claims;

(2)   no civil recovery was available under Maine consumer credit code for lender's failure to pay interest on tax and insurance escrow;

(3)   evidence did not support negligence claim against FHLMC for lender's actions in administering loan; and

(4)   FHLMC was holder in due course entitled to recover full amount of note, and lender's failure to disburse escrows was not viable affirmative defense on counterclaim to enforce note and mortgage.

                      Class Notes

a.    FHLMC was an undisclosed principal and Fidelity was its general agent.  FHLMC, the principal was found liable

b.    Why? – Fidelity is a general agent b/c it was appointed to act on behalf of FHLMC, there was consent, etc.  Servicing the loan includes acts that are usual or necessary in such transactions.

i.      Cannot be apparent authority b/c there can be no holding out when there is an undisclosed P.

ii.     Cannot be estoppel b/c the 3rd party cannot have a belief that an agency exists if the P is undisclosed.

c.    The P did not authorize the A to mismanage the account; A was authorized to properly service the loan.  Here, the A did receive payments but never credited the account.

d.    This is inherent agency power = it arises from some agency relationship. 

e.    Section 8A of the Restatement 2nd deals with inherent agency power

i.      Inherent agency indicates the power of an agent, which is derived not from authority, apparent authority, or estoppel, but solely from the agency relation and exists for the protection of persons harmed by or dealing with a servant or other agent.

g.    General Agents

i.      Section 3 of the Restatement 2nd provides that a general agent is authorized to conduct a series of transactions (not just one) involving a continuity of service. 

ii.     General Agents have broad inherent agency power. 

iii.    Factors include the number of transactions, the number of people dealt with, and the length of time, and prior dealings between the A & P.

iv.    A loan service agency requires that a number of transactions occur over an extended period of time. So loan service agent would be a general agent

v.     Section 161 of the Restatement 2nd discusses unauthorized acts of general agents when the principal is disclosed or partially disclosed

a.    A general agent for a disclosed or partially disclosed principal subjects his principal to liability for acts done on his account which usually accompany or are incidental to transactions which the agent is authorized to conduct if, although they were forbidden by the principal, the other party reasonably believes that the agent is authorized to do them and has no notice that he is not so authorized.

vi.    Section 194 of the Restatement 2nd discusses the creation of liability by unauthorized acts of general agents when the principal is undisclosed

a.    A general agent for an undisclosed principal authorized to conduct transaction subjects his principal to liability for acts done on his account, if usual or necessary in such transactions, although forbidden by the principal to do them.

                      h.    Special Agents

i.      Section 3 of the Restatement 2nd provides that a special agent is an agent authorized to conduct a single transaction or a series of transaction not involving a continuity of service

ii.     Section 161A of the Restatement 2nd discusses the liability of a principal for unauthorized acts of special agents when the principal is disclosed or partially disclosed:

A special agent for a disclosed or partly disclosed principal has no power to bind his principal by contracts or conveyances which he is not authorized or apparently authorized to make, unless the principal is estopped, or unless:

(a)   the agent's only departure from his authority or apparent authority is

i.      in naming or disclosing the principal, or

ii.     in having an improper motive, or

iii.    in being negligent in determining the facts upon which his authority is based, or

iv.    in making misrepresentations; or

(b)   the agent is given possession of goods or commercial documents with authority to deal with them.

iii.    Section 195A of the Restatement 2nd discusses the creation of liability by unauthorized acts of special agents when the principal is undisclosed:

       A special agent for an undisclosed principal has no power to bind his principal by contracts or conveyances which he is not authorized to make unless:

(a)   the agent's only departure from his authority is

(i)    in not disclosing his principal, or

(ii)    in having an improper motive, or

(iii)   in being negligent in determining the facts upon which his authority is based, or

(iv)   in making misrepresentations; or

(b)   the agent is given possession of goods or commercial documents with authority to deal with them.

 

i.      The Merrill doctrine -The usual rule is that as between two innocent parties, the loss should fall upon the one who created the enabling circumstances – i.e., the Principal.  However, the principal’s liability is limited by federal statute to breaches by the agent for the Federal Crop Insurance Corp. under actual authority granted by the principal.  If no actual authority, no liability.

j.      Here, it is undisputed that Fidelity’s wrongful acts as an agent were explicitly contrary to and prohibited by FHLMC’s Sellers’ and Servicers’ Guide.  Whatever the form in which the Government functions, anyone entering into an arrangement with the Government takes the risk of having accurately ascertained that he who purports to act for the Government stays within the bounds of his authority.

k.     Commercial actors usually act with some dominion.  You can withhold assignment unless you get guarantees against this type of problem.

3.    Kidd v. Thomas A. Edison: 

a.    If a man selects another to act for him with some discretion, he has by that fact vouched to some extent for his reliability. 

b.    While it may not be fair to impose upon him the results of a total departure from the general subject of his confidence, the detailed execution of his mandate stands on a different footing. 

c.    Principals are accountable for “the agent’s minor deviations.”  The more substantial the deviation, the more likely the misconduct was outside the boundaries of the agent’s inherent authority.

 

 

       E.    Special Topics

1.        Intro

a.    Up until now, we have focused on principal’s liability in K for authorized, and certain unauthorized, acts by their agents. 

b.    This Section sets forth some closely related areas in which principals may be held liable in tort for certain acts within their agents actual or apparent authority

2.    Agent Diversion of Funds

                      a.    Problem 5.11 – Principal Liability for Agent Diversion of Funds

Lawyer is a trial lawyer employed by firm, which through its lawyers, is engaged in the practice of law, specializing in general civil litigation.  Lawyer is senior enough that Lawyer has the authority to accept new cases on behalf of the firm. 

Client hired Lawyer to represent her in a suit against D.  Even though firm policy required only a $1500 retainer, lawyer asked for $5K.  When client asked how to fill out the check, lawyer said the firm would stamp its name in as payee. 

Unknown to client, Lawyer was planning to leave the firm, and didn’t want firm to know about client’s suit.  Lawyer filled in the check by putting lawyer’s own name as the name of the payee.  Lawyer then deposited the check in his personal account.  Lawyer used the $5K to finalize the arrangements for Lawyer’s new office by paying the first-month rent and security deposit.  As Lawyer was driving home from signing the lease, Lawyer was killed in a car accident.

When Client inquired of the Firm about the status of the case, the Firm told her that it could not start work until Client had paid the $1,500 retainer. Client objected that Client had already paid $5k.

May the Firm require Client to pay the $1,500 retainer that the Firm never received?

This problem addresses the issue of agent diversion of funds and when a principal may be liable for the agent’s actions in that regard. Here, the firm could not require the Client to pay the $1,500.  The facts show that Lawyer was a senior attorney in the Firm and had the authority to accept new cases on behalf of the Firm. Consequently, he would have the authority to request the $1,500 retainer, which was Firm policy for taking on new clients (i.e., requesting the $1,500 was within the course and scope of the Lawyer’s job).  According to § 219(1) of the Restatement (Second) of Agency, a master is subject to liability for the torts of his servants committed while acting in the scope and course of their employment.  There was actual authority to collect $1,500. Pursuant to this rule the Firm would be liable/responsible for the $1,500 that its Lawyer requested in the course and scope of his employment, even though the Firm never received the money.

When master (or principal) is liable for Torts of His servants or other agents.  This applies to the Principal/Agent relationship also.

 

If not, is the Firm also subject to liability to Client for the additional $3,500 demanded by Lawyer solely for Lawyer’s own purposes?

As for the additional $3,500 requested by Lawyer the Firm could argue that this amount fell outside the scope of employment b/c it was the Firm policy to request only $1,500, and that as such the Firm is not liable.  However, Section 219(2)(d) states that a master may still be liable for the tortious acts of their servants, even if committed outside the scope of their employment, if the servant purported to act or speak on behalf of the principal and there was reliance upon apparent authority, or he was aided in accomplishing the tort by the existence of the agency relationship.  Under this rule the Firm would be liable to the Client for the additional $3,500 as well Under appearant authority (and actual authority).

 

 

       b.    Entente Mineral Co. v. Parker

i.      Prospective purchaser of royalty interest brought action against attorney, who had purchased the interest from his client, and the attorney's law firm.

ii.     The United States District Court directed verdict in favor of law firm, and prospective purchaser appealed.

iii.    The Court of Appeals held that law firm could not be held vicariously liable for any tortious act by the attorney.

                             Class Notes

i.      § 219(1) of the Restatement 2nd provides that a master subject to liability for torts of servant committed while acting within the scope of their employment (also goes for the principal/agent relationship.  This has been merged in Texans and in most jurisdictions.

ii.     A master is not subject to liability for the torts of his servants action outside the scope of their employment, unless:  §219(2) R2A

a.     the master intended the conduct or the consequences,

b.     the master was negligent or reckless,

c.     the conduct violated a non-delegable duty of the master, or

d.    the servant purported to act or to speak on behalf of the principal and there was reliance upon apparent authority, or he was aided in accomplishing the tort by the existence of the agency relationship.

iii.    This was not within the scope of Parker’s the employment because the law firm is not in the business of buying and selling oil and gas leases.  Parker purchased the royalty for himself and was acting in his own interest, not in the interest of the firm.

iv.    Did the agency relationship aid Parker in committing the tort?  The proper inquiry for determining vicarious liability of a principal whose agent defrauds the principal’s customer is the relationship between the principal and the customer.  No firm liability because there was no relationship between the firm and Entente.  Neither Parker nor the firm represented Entente.

iii.    Carson would want to be able to conclude that Entente was relying on the lawyer and not the firm (like V & E) before agreeing with this decision.  Here, the tie between the lawyer and the client probably did not arise as a result of Parker’s affiliation with the firm.

iv.   § 219(2) R2A – Not liable for acts outside the scope of employment. 

(1)     Unless Master intended the conduct,

(2)   The Master was negligent or reckless

(3)   The conduct violated a non-delegable duty of the master, or

(4)   The servant purported to act or to speak on behalf of the principal and there was reliance upon apparent authority, or he was aided in accomplishing the tort by the existence of the agency relation.

v.     Scope of Conduct.  It has to be done to benefit the partnership, then it most likely would be within the scope of the partnership.  If it is SOLELY for your own benefit, then it would most likely would not.

vi.   §261 R2A – A principal who puts a servant or ther agent in a position which enables the agent, whil apparently activn within his authority, to commit a fraud upon third persons is subject to liability  to such third persons for the fraud.  Comment a to 261 – The principal is subject to liability under the rule stated in this section although he is entirely innocent, has received no benefit from the transaction, and as stated in Section 262, alough the agent acted solely for his own purposes.

vii.     Reliance on the Firm – This will establish liability since there was reliance on the name of the firm.  It is increasingly difficult to deny liability under 219(2)(d) since they are relying on the reputation of the firm.

 

VI.   Management and Conduct of Firm Business

 

       A.    Introduction

1.    A primary consideration in organizing a business firm is choosing the firm’s governance structure – allocating rights and responsibilities for managing the firm and for participating in its business

2.    Each from of business entity (sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, LLC and corp.) has its own governance structure that derives from any underlying statute and common law

3.    An important factor in choosing a business entity is identifying the governance structure that most suits the parties’ needs.

4.    A key consideration is the extent to which a business entity allows party autonomy – gives parties the freedom to change or adapt the entity’s governance structure

5.    To the extent that an entity’s governance structure gives the parties wide discretion – the structure is said to be suppletory or enabling. (i.e., the governance structure authorizes the parties’ agreement and supplements it by providing default – or back up – rules that apply only where the parties have not otherwise agreed)

6.    To the extent that an entity’s governance structure constrains party discretion, the structure is said to be regulatory or mandatory (i.e., the structure regulates party autonomy be preventing them from choosing a different governance structure)

 

       B.    Partnerships

1.        Intro

a.    Of all the organizational forms, the governance structure of partnerships is generally the most enabling

       i.      Section 103 of the RUPA provides that:

Except as provided in subsection (b), relations among the partners and b/w the partners and the partnership are governed by the partnership agreement.  To the extent that the partnership agreement does not otherwise provide, this [Act] governs the relations among the partners and b/w the partners and the partnership.

b.     There may be two sources for a partner to act as an agent for the partnership

i.      If agent has in fact be given authority to engage in activity it is actual authority

       a.     Where there is actual authority there is no reliance requirement

ii.     To the extent it is based on business of the same kind being carried on by the partnership it may be closer to apparent agency power

a.     For apparent authority there would have to be third party reliance

c.    Section 303(d) of the RUPA provides that a filed statement of partnership authority supplements the authority of a partner to enter into transactions on behalf of the partnership as follows:

       (1)   See statute  

               (2)   See statute

d.    Public filing does not convey constructive notice, w/any legal import except for real estate if statement is also filed with deed record

e.    There is no current equivalent of 303 in TX

 

               2.    Partners as Agents

                      a.    Apparent Authority

                             i.      Problem 6.1 – Partner’s Ability to Bind Other Partners and the Partnership

Randy, Gus and Susan are partners conducting business under the name “Randy’s Grocery Store.” Because Randy and Susan have strong moral objections to the sale of alcoholic beverages, the partners agreed that Randy’s would not do so.  For many years, Randy’s never sold beer, wine or liquor.

Recently, Randy’s sales have been down.  One day Gus was in the store and noticed a lot of college T-shirts and sweatshirts. Gus decided that Randy’s could sell a lot of beer. Gus called up Spoetzel Brewing and ordered several cases of Shiner.

When the beer was delivered, Randy was on the loading dock and refused to accept the delivery. Spoetzel Brewing sued Randy’s and its partners for breach of K. Randy’s, Randy and Susan defend on two grounds.  First, they argue that the partner’s agreed that Randy’s would not sell alcohol. Second, they argue that Randy’s has never bought beer, wine or liquor. What result? Would either of the following make a difference in your analysis?

 

Answer to Problem 6.1

This problem presents the issue of when may a partner bind the other partners and the partnership. The default rules in the UPA and RUPA provide that a partner is an agent of the partnership any partner acting in the ordinary course of business may bind the partnership. In this problem, however, the partners entered into an agreement and when there is a partnership agreement the affairs of the partnership are governed by the agreement rather than default rules. Here, the partners expressly agreed not to sale beer so the partnership and the partners would not be liable. So the partners could argue that pursuant to their agreement Gus had no authority to purchase the beer and they should not be liable to Spoetzel.  However, while partners can change any of the default rules by agreement they cannot change those dealing with liability to 3rd parties. So, although Gus did not have actual authority he had apparent authority and he could bind the partnership.

Spoetzel could also cite RUPA § 301 of to support their position, which provides: 

(1)   Each partner is an agent of the partnership for the purpose of its business.  An act of a partner, including the execution of an instrument in the partnership name, for apparently carrying on in the ordinary course the partnership business or business of the kind carried on by the partnership binds the partnership, unless the partner had no authority to act for the partnership in the particular matter and the person with whom the partner was dealing knew or had received a notification that the partner lacked authority. 

Pursuant to this rule the partnership would be liable if it was in the “ordinary course of business” to sell beer. Under an objective inquiry, purchasing beer for a grocery store is probably in the ordinary course of business because most grocery stores sell beer.  However, if the inquiry is subjective, this grocery store has never sold beer.  The burden of proving that a particular act of an agent is within the scope of the agent’s authority is on the party asserting the agent has authority.  Here, it is unclear whether Brewing can meet the burden. But they could probably show Gus had apparent authority.

                                    a.    Spoetzel Brewing did not know that Gus was a partner in Randy’s.

If Spoetzel Brewing did not know Gus was a partner then it would add further support to the conclusion that Randy’s is not liable. If Spoetzel did not know Gus was a partner then there could not have been reliance and thus there can be no apparent authority either.

                                    b.    It is common (or uncommon) for groceries in the area to sell beer.

If it was common for groceries to sell beer in the area then it would lend support to finding liability under RUPA § 301 of the (i.e., if it was common, then Spoetzel can argue that it was ordinary practice and as such there was reliance, which could give rise to apparent authority). However, there was a partnership agreement that prohibited selling beer so there would be no liability on the partnership or its partners.  So this would indicate that Randy was liable and since there was reliance, the partners would then have to sue Randy.

 

                             ii.     Burns v. Gonzalez – Agency in Ordinary business matters.

a.    Action on a note. After an interlocutory default judgment had been entered in favor of promisee against promisor, the District Court, entered judgment denying promisee any recovery against promisor's partner and promisee appealed.   Bosquez signed a promissory note to Burns to enforce the note.

b.    The Court of Civil Appeals held that act of partner in executing a promissory note, where partnership was one which was restricted to sale of broadcast time over a radio station on a commission basis and there was nothing to show that transaction of such business made frequent resort to borrowing a necessity, was not an act for purpose of 'carrying on in the usual way the business of the partnership' within Uniform Partnership Act, so that neither the partnership nor nonparticipating partner were bound by the note.                        

Class Notes

a.    Burns sued Gonzalez and Bosquez, individually and as partners in Inter-American Advertising Agency to recover on a $40k promissory note executed by Bosquez in his own name and in the name of the partnership

b.    Bosquez had no authority to sign the note

c.    RUPA 301(1) states:

       Each partner is an agent of the partnership for the purpose of its business.  An act of a partner, including the execution of an instrument in the partnership name, for apparently carrying on in the ordinary course the partnership business or business of the kind carried on by the partnership binds the partnership, unless the partner had no authority to act for the partnership in the particular matter and the person with whom the partner was dealing knew or had received a notification that the partner lacked authority. 

d.    Also look at UPA 9(1), which states

               Every partner is an agent of the partnership for the purpose of its business, and the act of every partner, including the execution in the partnership name of any instrument, for apparently carrying on in the usual way the business of the partnership of which he is a member, binds the partnership, unless the partner so acting has in fact no authority to act for the partnership in the particular matter, and the person with whom he is dealing has knowledge of the fact that he has no such authority

e.    Under both, each partner is an agent of the partnership for the purposes of its business. 

f.     This is one of the perils of operating as a general partnership

g.    W/a limited liability partnership the same rule applies but with a limited liability only the culpable partners would be liable for the agents conduct

h.    The BOP is on the party relying on authority (this is customary rule of agency law)

i.      This case dealt more specifically with the ability of a partner to borrow money

j.      Common law made a distinction b/w trading and non-trading partnerships w/ only the former having implied authority for all partners to borrow money.  It must be rational for the 3rd party to rely on that type of business to borrow money. 

k.     Under the old statute there was some question, b/c of the non-specificity, whether the usual way of business was the usual way of that particular partnership or the usual way of businesses of the same kind generally

l.      This case adopted the position that it is either (this is also reflected in the revised act RUPA 301-1)

m.   TX statute has a similar provision but requires knowledge only.

n.    In this case, given these principals there was no evidence of the character of the business to support Burns’ position and Burns had the BOP. Consequently, he lost the case

 

b.     Estoppel

i.      Section 7(1) of the UPA provides that:

Except as provided by section 16 persons who are not partners as to each other are not partners as to third persons

                             ii.     Section 16 of the UPA deals with partner by estoppel and provides that

When a person represents themselves as a partner (or consents to another representing themselves as a partner) he is liable to any such person to whom such representation is made, who has, on the faith of that representation extended credit to the actual or apparent partnership

iii.    Section 308a of the RUPA allows places liability on a person representing themselves to be a partner

iv.    Under these partnership by estoppel requires a holding out or representation by words OR conduct that a particular person is a partner

v.     Estoppel also requires a 3rd party extension of credit to the actual or apparent partnership on faith of such representation made to them (i.e., it requires reliance on the purported partnership status)

vi.    This applies to both purported partnerships or actual partnerships

vii.   A&B are actual partnership and hold C out as partner or A,B, & C are not partners but still hold out to be partners, then liability principles are the same

 

 

               Problem 6.3 – Partners by Estoppel

        Ole consents to Lena telling Finn that Ole and Lena are partners in the practice of law (which they are not). Believing that he is dealing with Lena and Ole as partners, Finn lends money to Lena to buy a law library.

               1)    Is Ole subject to liability to Finn for the loan to Lena?

The issue here is whether Ole is estopped from denying liability. Pursuant to Section 16 of the UPA and Section 308a of the RUPA Ole would be subject to liability to Finn. Ole consented to being represented as a partnership.  Also, Finn extended credit on her reliance of this representation.  Therefore, Ole would be estopped from denying the existence of a partnership and would be liable to Finn.

 

2)    Would it make any difference in your answer if Lena instead borrowed money for the purpose of buying a sports car? Office supplies?

Yes, this would make a difference. If there is a partnership by estoppel you treat it as if there is an actual partnership. This brings us back to the rule that partners are only liable if it is for action taken in ordinary course of business.  Buying a sports car would not be in the usual course of business so Ole would not be liable.  Ole, however, would be liable if office supplies were purchased b/c that is in the ordinary course of business for a law firm.

 

               Problem 6.4 – Partner Liability by Estoppel 

        Odo and Worf are partners in the investment banking business. Odo and Worf both consent to Basheer holding himself out as their partner to Dax. Apparently acting for partnership purposes, Basheer borrows money from Dax, who thinks she is lending to the partnership.

1)    Who is liable on the loan?

       Pursuant to RUPA § 308(a) Basheer would be liable as a purported partner.  Basheer held himself out as a partner and Dax extended credit in reliance of that representation. So, Basheer would be liable.  Also, Odo and Worf would be liable under RUPA § 308(b) , which provides that if all of the partners of the existing partnership consent to the representation, a partnership act or obligation results.

 

2)    Would it make any difference to your answer if Odo, but not Worf, consented to being held out?

       This would make a difference. Section 308(b) of the RUPA )provides that if fewer than all the partners of the existing partnership consent to the representation, the person acting and the partners consenting to the representation are jointly and severally liable. So, if only Odo consented then only Odo and Basheer would be liable.

 

3)    Would it make any difference in your answer if Worf had consented to Basheer holding himself as a partner to Quark, but had never consented to any holding out by Dax?

Worf would still be liable. What matters is that Ole consented to holding another out as a partner. So, Worf would still be liable under 308(a)                    

 

               Cheesecake Factory, Inc. v. Baines – partnership by Estoppel.

Seller sought to recover from individual for credit extended to sports bar on claim of partnership by estoppel. The District Court entered judgment for seller, and individual appealed. The Court of Appeals held that:

(1)   individual did not waive right to appeal by paying judgment, and

(2)   evidence that individual consented to another's representation that he was partner and that seller reasonably relied on representation in extending credit supported holding individual liable as partner by estoppel.

               Class Notes

i.      Under RUPA 308, those who purport to be a partner will be liable and those that consent to another holding themselves out as a partner will be liable to 3rd parties

ii.     In this case there is a focus b/w a public representation and private representation

iii.    Cheesecake argues that there is no need for reliance if there is a public holding out

iv.    The court did not agree – the felt tradition of reliance was so strong that they would not rule it out

v.     Section 308a of RUPA clearly requires reliance

vi.    The effect of a public holding out then person holding them self out can expect that anyone could rely on it – it relieves P from having to show that D consented

vii.   If it was a private holding out then person holding them self out could expect that only the person they were dealing with could establish reliance

viii.    If your reliance is on the purported partnership it is usually b/c of focus on particular persons 

ix.   It was held that the public holding out will be liable to everyone who relies on it.

x.     Knowing that someone is a “general partner” then they can use that person’s individual credit wortiness as a guarantee for the deal.

xi.   The holding out as a partnership doesn’t eliminate the need for reliance.

xii.     The private representation requires more reliance will have to be shown. 

xiii.    What was the evidence in this case?  There was a bank account in this guys name, he was on the premises,

xiv.    

 

               Problem 6.5–Liability Caused By Purported Partners-Distinction B/W UPA and RUPA

        With the consent of Dick, Jane holds herself out to Emily as being a partner of Dick’s. Emily signs a K to sell widgets to what she believes is the Dick and Jane partnership on open account. Before Jane delivers the widgets, Dick tells here that there is no partnership and tells her that he will not be liable for the K. Assuming the transaction is one that would have bound the partnership if made by a partner.

1)    Under UPA § 16 may Emily bring and action for breach of contract against Dick?

We know partners can bind the partnership and all the partners are liable for the partnership business. Here we want to determine how these principals operate in regard to purported partners, b/c Jane was a purported partner. Section 16 allows a purported partner to bind the partnership and all its partners if: 1) there is a holding out, 2) the other party knows of holding out, 3) there is reliance, and 4) there is an extension of credit.

Here, the facts show that Dick agreed to have Jane hold her self out as a partner, so the first requirement is satisfied.  The second requirement was also satisfied b/c the facts show that Emily signed the K believing the parts were for the partnership.  The facts also show that Emily relied on the representation that Dick and Jane were partners.

However, the fourth requirement cannot be satisfied. Here no credit was extended while believing that there was a partnership. Jane was told before she delivered the widgets that there was no partnership.  Without satisfying this final requirement Dick cannot be liable as a purported partner (i.e., a purported partner is no liable on a K if there has been no extension of credit.)

 

               2)    Could Emily do so under RUPA § 308?

Under Section 308, Emily could argue that you do not need an extension of credit, rather all you need is to have to entered into a transaction. However, Dick could raise a counter argument by addressing the fact that the comment to Rule 308 states that it is not meant to create change b/w the two versions.  The comment suggests it is meant only to restate the UPA. Therefore, an extension of credit would still be required.

Dick could also argue that 308 is derogation of a well-established common law rule and all rules in derogation of a well-established common law rule are strictly construed and no where in the rule does it state that an extension of credit is not required.   This should be argued both ways.  The RUPA generally specifies changes to the UPA, and since there was none, it could be assumed that the changes were unintentional.

 

               3.    Partners as Managers

                      a.    Problem 6.6 – Partners as agents

Matthew, Emily and Paul are partners in a newly opened grocery business, MEP Grocers. Except for an agreement to be partners, and to divide profits equally, the partners have no other written or oral agreement as to partnership or business affairs.

1)    W/out first discussing the matter with his partners, Matthew contracted Arrow Bread Company, and contracted for Arrow to sell bread to MEP Grocers for a week. At the same time, and also w/out discussing the matter with his partners, Paul contracted with Wholesome Bakers for the purchase of bread by MEP Grocers for a month. Assume that the partners have no existing practice.

a.     Is the partnership subject to liability to either Arrow or Wholesome?

The partnership is liable to both Arrow and Wholesome. RUPA § 301(1) states that all partners are agents for the partnership and bind the partnership for things in the ordinary course of business.  Purchasing bread is in the ordinary course of business for grocery stores so they would be liable.

 

b.    As among the partners, are either Matthew or Paul liable to Emily or to MEP Grocers for contracting for the purchase of bread without consulting the other partners?

Matthew and Paul would not be liable to Emily or to MEP Grocers b/c they had the actual authority to purchase the bread.  However, if there was an agreement b/w the partners that they would not purchase bread without unanimity then Matthew and Paul would be liable to Emily and MEP. They are liable to Emily b/c they would be in breach of the K amongst them that there would be no sale in the absence of unanimity.   

 

The default rule is that they are agents, and since this is in the ordinary course of business, they would be liable. They are on the hook for the partner’s share of the profits and losses.

 

2)    The partners meet to discuss the matter. Matthew likes the quality and flavor of Arrow’s bread, while Emily and Paul prefer Wholesome’s wider variety. Over Matthew’s objections, Emily and Paul decide to buy bread from Wholesome, rather than from Arrow. Matthew writes Wholesome a letter in which he denies the authority of Emily and Paul to bind MEP Grocers. He also disclaims any liability on any new purchases of bread from Wholesome.

a.    Are either MEP Grocers or Matthew subject to liability to Wholesome on the K?

Under the ordinary principles of partnership law, Emily and Paul would have the actual authority to purchase the bread so Matthew and MEP Grocers would be subject to liability to Wholesome. Pursuant to Section 18(e) of the UPA and 401(f) of the RUPA all partners have equal rights in the management and conduct of the partnership business. So, Emily and Paul could make the decision to buy Wholesome bread. It does not matter that Matthew disagreed with the decision.

b.    What action, if any, could Matthew have taken to avoid liability on purchases from Wholesale?

There are a couple of ways that partner can have his authority to act limited: 1) you can make specific provision in the partnership agreement that is entered into at the beginning or 2) you can have a majority of the partners vote to limit the authority of that partners power to act on behalf of the partnership. If these actions were taken Matthew could have asserted a claim against Emily and Paul to recover any loss he may have sustained for their acting outside the scope of agreed upon authority.

 

Matthew could have dissolved the partnership to protect himself (this is only effective to those who have notice).  You can protect your self “prospectively” (before the transaction occurs).

 

3)    After losing the vote, Matthew again contracts to buy bread for another week from Arrow. Assume that Arrow does not know of the partner’s vote.

a.    Are either MEP Grocer, Emily or Paul subject to liability to Wholesome on the K?

There is no actual authority b/c of the vote. However, MEP and its partners are still liable b/c there is apparent authority. A vote against the purchase of bread from Arrow will relieve them of liability only if Arrow has notice of that vote.  

                             b.    As among the partners, is Matthew liable to MEP or his partners?

Once the dispute arose and because this was a new contract that had never been entered into before therefore Matt will need the majority approval in order to have actual authority to enter into this contract.  Because he does not have the authority and he goes ahead anyway and enters into a contract with Arrow he will be liable to the other partners for breach of a duty of loyalty and obedience by entering into contracts in which he did not have authority that were also adverse to the partnership business. 

 

4)    Matthew learns that Paul wants to buy bread from Wholesome but before either of them had talked to Emily, Matthew contracts to buy bread from Arrow. Who is liable?

 

MEP as well as the partners are liable to Arrow. There is still actual authority in the absence of a more formal sentiment against actual authority, and even if there was a more formal sentiment against actual authority Arrow would need notice of such sentiment. However, a formal vote against may be enough to establish some sort of breach of fiduciary duty against Matthew.  ARGUE BOTH OPTIONS.

 

Individual debts (non-business related) are generally not recoverable from the individual partners.

 

 

                      b.    National Biscuit Co., Inc. v. Stroud

Proceeding by seller of bread against former partners who had operated food store for value of goods sold and delivered. The Superior Court rendered judgment for seller, and partner appealed. The Supreme Court held that purchase of bread by food store operated as going concern by two partners was an ordinary matter connected with partnership business within statute to effect that any difference arising as to ordinary matter connected with partnership business may be decided by majority of partners, and although partner told bread seller he would not be personally responsible for additional bread sold to store, partner and partnership were liable for such purchase by copartner.

                             Class Notes

i.      Stroud advised Nabisco that he would not be responsible for any additional bread sold to the partnership

ii.     From 2/6 à 2/25 Freeman ordered more bread. The partnership dissolved on 2/25, and now Nabisco is suing Stroud

iii.    At the time the court was looking at UPA 9.1. The revised act is 301.1 – each partner is an agent of the partnership for the purposes of carrying out its business

iv.    The partnership is bound by the actions of its partners unless the partner acting had no actual authority and the 3rd party knew of the lack of authority (this is UPA 9.1)

v.     There is an important modification in RUPA301.1 – that is notification (once notified it shifts the burden – need notification rather than knew)

vi.    301.1 establishes a constructive notice provision while the old act required actual knowledge

vii.   Despite being notified of his objection Straud is still liable b/c it bread was ordered while partnership still existed and Freeman had actual authority

viii.  Partners can change any of the default rules by agreement except for those dealing with liability to 3rd parties

ix.    Pursuant to UPA 18e and RUPA 401f  Each partner has equal rights in the management and conduct of partnership business

x.     Pursuant to UPA 18h and RUPA 401j disputes may be settled by a majority of persons (not interested). Two owning 2% interest in partnership can beat out one person owning 98%. These are the default rule and an agreement can change these default rules

xi.    In our case one of two is not a majority, so a partnership obligation was created and Straud is liable

xii.   A partnership is an entity for liability that arises out of K w/ 3rd persons. Ordinarily, this is a helpful rule of law b/c partnerships are usually a small business

 

 

 

 

                      c.    Covalt v. High

i.      Partner brought action against his copartner, seeking damages for copartner's failure or refusal to negotiate and obtain an increase in the amount of rental of partnership property.

ii.     The trail court found there was a breach of fiduciary duty b/c the amount obtained for rent was not reasonable

iii.    The Court of Appeals held that in the absence of an agreement between the partners to increase the rent of the partnership realty, one partner could not recover damages for the failure of the copartner to acquiesce in a demand that he negotiate and execute an increase in the monthly rentals of partnership property.

                             Class Notes

i.      The appeals court reversed, b/c rules state partners have equal rights in management and majority can settle

ii.     However, here there was no majority b/w two so there was no power to impose the will of one

iii.    Fiduciary duty is a gap filler. So state of affairs b/w Covalt and High is contractual and only a majority can change that agreement

iv.    What might otherwise be a fiduciary duty can be overridden by express agreement

v.     The may pick particular duties and contract for a declination. We allow specific exceptions by contract but not a general one

vi.    Where the partnership consists of only two partners an act involving the partnership business cannot be compelled by the co-partner. The rights of the two partners are equal.  If the partners are unable to agree and if the partnership agreement does not provide and acceptable means for settlement of this disagreement, the only course of action is to dissolve the partnership.

vii.   If the parties are divided as to a business decision affecting the partnership, and in the absence of a written provision in the partnership agreement providing for such contingency, then, as b/w partners, the power to exercise discretion on behalf to the partners is suspended so long as the division continues.

vii.   The rule is different, however, as to transactions b/w partners and 3rd parties. In dealing with third parties a partner has the authority to act on behalf of the partnership in the usual way, even w/out the consent of the other partner

                            

       C.    Corporations

1.    In many ways the governance structure of a corporation is the polar opposite of that of a partnership

 

2.    Unlike partners S/Hs have no right, merely by virtue of being a S/H, to participate in the management and conduct of partnership business.

3.    Management of the business and affairs of a corporation is vested in its board of directors (Charlestown Boot & Shoe)

4.    The B/Ds generally delegates the authority to run the business of the corporation on a day-to-day basis to officers elected by the board

5.    S/Hs are not agents of the corp. and have no right to participate in the conduct of the corporation’s business. 

6.    S/Hs have no right to instruct the board of directors or to interfere in its management of the corporations business and affairs

7.    The S/Hs can affect corporate management in only two respects:

       a.     The S/Hs elect the person who will constitute the board of directors, and

b.    The B/D cannot take certain extraordinary actions – amending Articles of Incorporation, merging the corp., selling all or substantially all of the corporation’s assets –w/out first getting S/H approval

8.    Moreover, whenever S/H or B/D action is required, that action may not be taken informally, but must be taken only by a majority vote at a meeting

9.    Meetings may be held only after proper notice, and require the presence of a minimum number of S/Hs, or directors, as the case may be (this minimum is called a quorum)

10.  Recent years have seen increased flexibility in the corporate form.  A prime example is the use of close corporations.

11.  Many states have passed – close corporation supplements to their business corporation acts

12.  These supplements authorized all the S/Hs to enter into unanimous S/H agreements with regard to the business affairs of the corp. and to do so w/out regard to the traditional role of the board of directors

               Class Notes

i.         There is a functional separation of ownership and control

ii.       Ultimate control is in the B/D, elected by the S/H.

iii.      There are formalities associated with the Corporation.  Through these formalities are created the actual and inherent authority.   The B/D can limit the authority of the officers, but the 3rd party must know of the limitations.

ii.       The corporation was created to accommodate passive investors and to centralize management.

iii.      BoD while acting as Directors, are NOT AGENTS.

iv.     When the BoD acts to implement their actions, then they can be agents.

iii.    So, the design was to attract numbers of persons who would contribute their money in the hopes of realizing gain due to the participation and conduct of others

iv.    So a hierarchy was established with the S/H à Officers à Directors

v.    Business and affairs were to be managed by the B/D and the B/D was to assign officers for managerial purposes and the S/H were to be passive

vi.    In the closely held corporations there was no particular interest in or need to limit liability by incorporation b/c there is really no passive persons

vii.   There is no presumption that an equity holder in a corporation is an agent for the corporation

viii.  All the authority is with the B/D and officers.  If President acts in an ordinary matter then corp. is bound. Extraordinary matters require action by B/D for corp. to be bound

ix.    The corporation generally speaking evolved as the vehicle for passive investors and so the default rule in coporate law has always been centralized management in the board and that B/D is unlike an agent – they do not act in an agent capacity. The B/D directs and controls the corporation

x.    Certain managerial tasks are delegated to officers and some member of the B/D may also be officers

xi.    Officers are agents, and a director acting as an officer will also be acting as an agent

xii.   However, when corporate directors makes decisions for the corporation they are making the decision they believe are in the best interest of the corporation and not strictly as agents

xiii.  Unlike the partnership and certain LLPs, a S/H of the corporation is not an agent for the corp. – there is no actual agent authority and in the absence of a specific delegation of authority a S/H cannot be classified as an agent

xiv.  In a closely held corp., where you have owner operated, it is likely that S/H may have apparent and even actual authority so S/H in closely held corporation may be deemed an agent

xv.   Course of conduct may provide for actual authority if principal allows the conduct w/out reprimand

xvi. Principal may limit authority but if 3rd person has no notice of limitations they may rely on appearances, which may bind corporation

xvii. Under Section 7.32 to MBCA, unless shares of a corp. are publicly traded, its S//H may, by unanimous S/H agreement, may govern their affairs by express K

xviii. Agreement must be written – while initial agreement has to be by unanimous vote, subsequent amendments do not have to be

xix.  Most closely held corporations filed under the general rules, but special rules have been enacted dealing w/closely held corps.

xx.               Problems faced by closely held corporations under general laws can in part be dealt with by 7.32

xxi.              The corporate form provdes the clearest delineation between the ownership and control of the corporation.

xxii.            The corporate form is the best for large number of shareholders.

xxiii.           For Closely Held corporations, you can deviate from the mandatory provisions of corporate standards.  Under the Texas Business Corporations Act, once the business is publically traded, you can’t deviate from the mandatory items of the Corporations Act.   In a closely held corporation, you can get rid of the BoD, and other provisions.

xxiv.          Where the interest holders are few in number, you may have the same agency realities, regardless of the form.  Under the corporate form, shareholders are NOT agents of the corp.  If you have 4 interest holders, as a matter of law, they may be general agents for the corporation because they act for the corporation and there may be actual or inherent authority.

xxv.             

 

       D.    Limited Partnerships

               1.    Intro

a.    The governance structure of the limited partnership lies b/w that of the partnership and the corporation

b.    So far as general partners are concerned, they generally have the same rights, and are subject to the same obligations, as are partners in a regular partnership

c.    Limited partners have no rights by virtue of being limited partners, to participate in management or conduct of the partnership business

d.    We have 1916 ULPA and the 1976 act, and there were also important amendments in 1985 (this is RULPA)

d.         Seminal cases may have been decided under 1916 act and we would have to determine whether today’s regulatory framework would make the outcome different

e.         This has one or more G/P’s and one or more L/P’s.

f.           RULPA à 1976 Law with 1985 Amendments.

g.         ULPA à 1916 Act.

h.         § 403 RULPA à In a LP, the G/P has the same rights as a partner in a regular partnership. 

i.           Look at  RULPA § 303 (page 339) only holds a limited partner liable if he is held out as a general partner.

 

               2.    Voting Rights of Limited Partners

                      a.    Wasserman v. Wasserman

i.      Plaintiff partner brought action to establish his position as sole general partner of limited partnership and for further relief. The Superior Court, Middlesex County denied the requested relief, and plaintiff appealed.

ii.     The Appeals Court held that:

(1)   limited partner consented to designation of plaintiff as sole general partner of limited partnership where she signed amended provision of partnership agreement to provide that former general partner could designate such an individual to be general partner without approval of limited partner, and

(2)   amendment of certificate of limited partnership reflecting plaintiff's admission as general partner was valid where plaintiff signed amendment as limited partner's "attorney-in-fact" pursuant to express authorization given him.

                             Class Notes

                             i.      Section 403 of 1976 ULPA deals with general powers and liabilities

ii.     In a partnership the default rule is that all partners are agents and have equal management rights

iii.    Section 403 tells us that in a LP, unless otherwise provided in partnership agreement, all general partners are agents and the management is left in the hands of the general partners

iv.    Whatever a partner can do in a general partnership, a general partner in a limited partnership can do the same

v.     In this case there was an agreement and pursuant to the agreement the general partner was allowed to assign a general partner as long as the assignee was from a designated class or approved by a majority of the general partners

vi.    In Wasserman court looked to 9.1 of 1916 Act. Under this provision general partners have rights and liabilities subject to limitations requiring written consent to specific acts by 100% of the limited partners. (i.e., Section 9.1 of 1916 act stated that w/regard to extraordinary matter the limited partners must give their approval)

viii.  Section 9.1 reflected the corporate rule that corporation must get S/H approval for extraordinary matters such as mergers, sale of substantially all assets, etc…

ix.    Question was whether this was extraordinary manner

x.     Court looked at revised act as representing some evidence of a consensus regarding some of the relevant issues raised in this case

xi.    Section 401 of RULPA states that after the filing of a LP, additional general partners may be admitted as provided in writing in the partnership agreement or if the partnership agreement does not provide in writing for the admission of additional general partners, w/the written consent of all partners

xii.   Here, there was an agreement in writing that provided for this change

xiii.  The court in Wasserman held that a written agreement can change a default rule

xv.     This promotes parties right to freedom of K

xvi.   The partnership agreement allows for the making of additional general partners, and when this is agreed to by the limited partners, then it is as if they consent RULPA § 401.

 

               3.    Limitations on Contractual Expansion of Limited Partner Rights

                      a.    Gast v. Petsinger

i.      Former project engineer brought suit against partnership seeking back pay and expenses. The Court of Common Pleas rendered summary judgment for certain of the defendants on ground that they were limited partners, and plaintiff appealed.

ii.     The Superior Court held that

(1)   none of the powers mentioned in partnership certificate exceeded the degree of control which converts the status of a limited partner to that of a general partner,

(2)   that the court was required to accept as true all facts asserted by plaintiff,

(3)   that key test in determining whether a limited partner is liable as a general partner is the control that such partner has in the day-to-day functions and operations of the business and that genuine issue of material fact was generated whether two limited partners exercised such degree of control, precluding summary judgment as to them.

Class Notes

i.      This is most litigated matter under limited partnerships – limitations on contractual expansion of limited partners rights

ii.     Section 303 of 1976 act deals with liability to 3rd parties

iii.    This case focuses on the primary reason why the uniformed act was revised – this was the liability provision

iv.    UPA § 7 -- Under the 1916 Act limited partners were not liable for partnership debts of LPs unless they took part in the control of the business (i.e., limited partner was not liable as general partner unless in addition to exercising rights of limited partner they took control of the business)

v.     RULPA § 7 -- Under 1976 act if the limited partners participates in the control of the business, they are liable only to persons who transact business with the limited partnership, believing, based upon the limited partner’s conduct, that the limited partner is a general partner (the new act requires reliance)

vi.    1976 act put limitation on liability of limited partners who took part in control of business

vi.                 SJ is allowed were there is not sufficient evidence that limited partner took control in business

vii.                UPA

 

                      b.    Frigidaire Sales Corp. v. Union Properties, Inc.  – Corporate General Partner

i.      Creditor of partnership brought action against corporate general partner and limited partners individually when partnership failed to pay installments due on contract.

ii.     The Superior Court entered judgment for creditor against corporate general partner but dismissed claim against limited partners and creditor appealed.

iii.    The Court of Appeals held that limited partners are not liable as general partners simply because they are active officers or directors, or are stockholders of a corporate general partner in a limited partnership.

                             Class Notes

i.      Here, Frigidare was a LP and there was a separate corp. set up as a general partner – Union. The limited partners were Manion, Baxter and others

ii.     Manion and Baxter are the S/Hs, officers and directors of Union

iii.    Manion and Baxter controlled day to day affairs of Union

iv.    Question is whether they are taking part in the control for the purposes of the ULPA so that they lose their limited liability

v.     TX said they lose their limited liability but TX was in the minority

vi.    The majority of jurisdictions ruled as the court did in this case – the only one liable without limits is the corporation and Manion and Baxter did not lose their limited liability

vii.   Court was unwilling to protect a corporate actor – Frigidare was a corporate actor and should have know what they were doing – If Frigidare wanted Manion and Baxter to be liable they should have obtained a personal guarantee from them

viii.              Majority rule is that there is no prohibition against using a corporate general partner and the S/Hs and directors of that corporate general partner can have limited interests even though the may take part in conduct of corporation

ix.                 RULPA § 303(b) – Safe Harbor conduct of things not establishing control.  This establishes a “safe Harbor” of activities that are not controlling.    This list is not exhaustive (RULPA § 303(c)). 

x.                   RULPA § 303(b)(1) – Allows for a G/P that is a corporation  § 303(b)(1) allows a G/P to be a an officer, etc. of a corporation.  This essentially overrules Delaney v. Fidelity Lease.  

 

 

                      c.    Note on Re-RULPA Section 303

                             i.      Section 303 – No Liability as Limited Partner to 3rd Parties

A limited partner is not liable for a debt, obligation, or other liability of the limited partnership solely by reason of being a limited partner, even if the limited partner participates in the management of and control of the limited partnership

                     

       E.    Limited Liability Companies

               1.    Intro

                      a.    LLCs do not have a standard governance structure

b.      The LLC business form was developed for the purpose of combining the limited liability of S/Hs with the governance structure of partnerships

c.      The LLC doesn’t punish the participants in the management of the company.

c.    Not coincidentally, the most common governance structure LLC acts is “member mangement”

i.      In a member-managed LLC, members generally have the rights and power of partners in a partnership to participate in the management and conduct of LLC business

d.    The alternate governance structure of LLC acts is “manager-management”

i.      In a manager-managed LLC, management of the business and affairs of the LLC is vested in the manager, who generally has the rights and powers of partners in a partnership

ii.     Members generally have no right to participate in the management or conduct of LLC business

e.    Under the ULLCA, and LLC’s articles of organization must specify whether the LLC is to manager-managed

f.     Note, however, that having this knowledge may work against 3rd parties

g.    ULLCA 203(a)(6) – Says that the articles of incorporation must set forth whether the company is to be manager-managed, and, if so, the name and address of each initial manager.  The manager managed entity is analogous to a corporation and its board of directors.

i.         Carson reads this to mean that if you have a member managed LLC, you must affirmatively set that forth in the articles of incorporation.

ii.        

 

h.    ULLCA 404(a):  In a member-managed company, each member has equal rights in the management and conduct of the company’s business (ordinary), and except as otherwise provided in (c), any matter relating to the business of the company may be decided by a majority of the members.

i.      ULLCA 404(b):  In a manager-managed company, each manager has equal rights in the management and conduct of the company’s business, and except as otherwise provided in (c), any matter relating to the business of the company ma be exclusively decided by the manager, or if, there is more than one manager, by a majority of the manages; and a manager must be designated, appointed, elected, removed, or replaced by a vote, approval, or consent of a  majority of the members, and holds office until a successor has been elected and qualified, unless the manager sooner resigns or is removed.

j.      ULLCA §404(c) requires that the following items be consented to by all Members:  Amendment of the operating agreement, the authorization or ratification of acts or transactions, an amendment to articles of organization, compromise of an obligation to make a contribution, compromise, as among members, of an obligation of a member to make a contribution or return money or other property paid or distributed in violation of this act, making of interim distributions, admission of a new member,  use of the company’s property to redeem an interest subject to a charging order, the consent to dissolve the company, a waiver of the right to have the company’s business would up and the company terminated, the consent of members to merger, and the sale, lease, or exchange, or other disposal of all, or substantially all, of the company’s property with or without goodwill.

k.     ULLCA 103:  Says all of the above is subject to an operating agreement.  However, (b) provides rights that can’t be waived – duty of loyalty, unreasonable restriction on right to information or access or records, unreasonably reduce duty of care, elimination obligation of good care, vary the right to expel a member, vary the requirement to wind up the LLC, or restrict rights of a person, other than a manager, member, and transferee of a member’s distributional interest.  THEREFORE, THE CODE IS THE DEFAULT RULE!

 

               2.    Problem 6.7

Lucy is a member of Belle’s Ice Cream Shop, LLC, a member-managed limited liability company organized under the ULLCA. The LLC has two other members, Mary and Paula.

The LLC holds title in its name to a building just off the town square in Sealy, which it has been using to operate a small ice cream shop under the name of “Belle’s”. Business had turned down in Sealy. Believing that Belle’s sould do better in nearby Brenham, Lucy asked Neighbor, who owned the store next door, if he was interested in buying the building and lot.  Lucy and Neighbor agreed to a price of $250k. Neighbor paid Lucy the $250k, and Lucy signed, acknowledged and delivered the deed transferring the LLC’s interest in the building and lot.

Lucy had never discussed a possible sale with Mary or Paula, and did not have their consent to a sale of the property. Mary and Paula have asked you if they may recover the property.

1)    Assuming that the articles of organization of the LLC have no provisions that might affect your answer, plead advise Mary and Paula.

Section 301 of ULLCA provides that subject to subsection (c) each member is an agent of the limited liability company for the purpose of its business, and an act of a member, including the signing of an instrument in the company’s name, for apparently carrying on in the ordinary course the company’s business or business of the kind carried on by the company binds the company, unless the member had no authority to act for the company in the particular matter and the person with whom the member was dealing knew or had notice that the member lacked authority.  Here, the sale of the primary asset of the company will not likely be construed as ordinary business.  Hence, Lucy did not have the authority to act under subsection (1).  Additionally, subsection (2) provides that an act of a member which is not apparently for carrying on in the ordinary course the company’s business or business of the kind carried on by the company binds the company only if the act was authorized by the other members.  Here, Lucy did not obtain the consent of the other members to sell the building.  However, § 301(c) provides that unless the articles of organization limit their authority, any member of a member-managed company or manager of a manager-managed company may sign and deliver any instrument transferring or affecting the company’s interest in real property.  The instrument is conclusive in favor of a person who gives value without knowledge of the lack of authority of the person signing and delivering the instrument.  Here, Lucy has sold an interest in real estate.  She is a member of the LLC.  She has signed, acknowledged and delivered the deed conveying the interest in the real esate.  The articles of organization have no provisions regarding this issue.  Additionally, it does not appear that Neighbor had any knowledge that Lucy did not have the authority to enter into this transaction and has given value.  Hence, the deed is conclusive in favor of neighbor.  However, the provisions of § 404 supercede the general provisions of § 301.  ULLCA § 404(c)(12) provides that the sale, lease, exchange, or other disposal of all, or substantially all, of the company’s property requires the consent of all members.  Although the facts are not entirely clear, it appears likely that this building that Lucy sold represents substantially all of the assets of the company.  Hence, the sale will be invalid because of the lack of consent.

2)    Would your answer change if Lucy, Mary and Paula had been operating Belle’s Ice Cream Shop as a partnership under the UPA? Under the RUPA?

       Under UPA it is pretty much the same result. Section 9(1) of UPA provides “every partner is an agent of the partnership for the purpose of its business, and the act of every partner, including the execution in the partnership name of any instrument, for apparently carrying on in the usual way of business of the partnership of which he is a member binds the partnership, unless the partner so acting has in fact no authority to act for the partnership in the particular matter, and the person with whom he is dealing has knowledge of the fact that he has no such authority.” The result is not different.  However, under ULLCA members may convey the company’s property even if it violates the law or an agreement b/w the partners and that conveyance is good for the 3rd party b/c pursuant to 301.3 the statutory frame work provides for the members to do that subject to 412 limitation.  Therefore, under ULLC members can transfer real property; however, it would not be able to be conveyed under UPA or RUPA unless the transaction meets the requirements of § 9(1).

      

       General agency law rules.  The general agency applies to “ordinary course of business”  but can be limited by a vote, and notice to the 3rd party.   There is no protection to 3rd parties for “extrodinary matters.” 

 

 

VII.  Managerial Discretion and Fiduciary Duties

       A.    Intro

1.    At least in theory there may be situations where managerial discretion conflicts with fiduciary duties

2.    The scope of decision making is unbounded b/c one never really knows what may occur during the existence of an enterprise

3.    One of the reasons that there is some reliance on the fiduciary duty is that we do not want the discretion of those who manage to go without any possible regress or any possible accountability

4.    It is impossible to identify exactly what a manger should do under certain circumstances

5.    The fiduciary duty allows for some hostile redress or a check on managerial discretion

6.    The fiduciary duty essentially arise out of two sets of circumstances – the relationship b/w the parties or the control over property or other interest that is to be exercised, at least in part, for the benefit of others

7.    Often times the duty is in fact the only check under law, b/c there may be no duty owed by 3rd parties

8.    The fiduciary duty has two major prongs: 1) duty of care and 2) duty of loyalty

8.    The care standard may be an ordinary care standard for agents

9.    Justification:  Free marketplace, the P has some opportunity to determine the skillfulness of the agent.  You can ask for references. You can check the litigation records and the BBB.  You can check the standards.

10.                The P assumes the risk of the skillfulness of the agent freely selected. This puts the oneness on the P.

 

       B.    Business Judgment Rule

               1.    Intro

a.    A director or officer who makes a business judgment in good faith fulfills his duty if: 

i.      the director or officer is not interested in the subject of his business,

ii.     the director or officer is informed with respect to the subject of his business judgment to the extent he reasonable believes is necessary, and

iii.    the director or officer rationally believes that his business judgment is in the best interests of the corporation.

b.    If the conditions are not met the standard of review is based on the entire fairness or reasonability of the transaction

c.    The person challenging the director’s action may argue that the business judgment rule should not apply if they can show:

               i.      That the decision was tainted with self-interest

       ii.     That the directors did not inform themselves

iii.    That there was bad faith/fraud

a.     There was no legitimate business purpose (or no rationale basis) or

b.     There was waste

2.    Myers v. Maxey

Legal malpractice action was brought against two attorneys and their law firm based on failure to have will prepared for client who was under guardianship signed in front of judge. The District Court on pretrial motion for summary adjudication of negligence and breach of contract claims, granted directed verdict for one attorney, refused to submit issue of punitive damages to jury, and thereafter entered judgment on jury verdict in favor of second attorney and law firm. Appeal was taken. The Court of Appeals held that: (1) ruling on motion denying interlocutory summary adjudication was reviewable; (2) fact issues existed to preclude summary adjudication; (3) no basis existed for holding first attorney either directly or vicariously liable in connection with second attorney's preparation of will; (4) evidence was for jury on issue of whether second attorney reasonably believed that, under one of two apparently conflicting statutes, will did not have to be signed before judge; and (5) no evidence supported submission of punitive damages issue to jury.

                      Class Notes

                      a.    Here we see the care principal in the context of lawyers

b.    The principal agent relationship requires that the agent owe fiduciary duties to the principal – care and loyalty

c.    Here, we saw that the agent is not required to be perfect but only to exercise a reasonable degree of care under all the facts and circumstances

c.      An attorney who acts in good-faith and in an honest belief that his advice and acts are well founded and in the best interests of his client is not answerable for a mere error of judgment or for a mistake in a point of law which has not been settled by the court of last resort and on which reasonable doubt may be entertained by well informed lawyers

d.      You have to look at the market of attorneys in the area and determine the skillfulness of the attorney. 

e.      In matters of issues that are unsettled, then you are less likely to be sued for malpractice.   Compared to age discrimination, where there is very little unsettled law, a mistake like this would constitute M/P.

f.        It is not easy to sue attorneys for M/P.  More likely where there is complete negligence.

g.      Misfeasance, short of confict of interest, will not be enough.

h.      Relationship between Rules of Ethics and the Liability.  They set a standard which the lawyers can be held to.

i.         Mere error of judgment  does not constitute negligence. Where there is reasonable doubt, amount well intentioned lawyers, the differences in opinion, they can’t constitute a basis for liability.  Only where the law is well settled, and erroneous advise is given, can a cause of action be created.

j.         Rule 11 sanctions can be levied for outlandish claims.

k.       When there is a good faith claim, then there must also be a showing that there was no conflict of interest to offset it.

 

               2.    Problem 7.2 – BJR and Discretion of Management

Mr. Hood Meadows, Oreg., Ltd. is a limited partnership established to carry on the business of constructing and operating a winter sports development.  Under the LP agreement, management of the business and affairs of Mt. Hood Meadows is the responsibility of its general partner, Mt. Hood Meadows Development Corp. That agreement also provides that the limited partners have no right to take part in the control of the business.  For the years in which profits were earned after 1974, the general partner elected to distribute only 50 percent of the limited partner’s taxable profits. The remaining profits were retained and reinvested in the business.  Three of the limited partners have sued to force the general partners to distribute the retained profits.

Assume that the limited partnership agreement does not require the distributions, and that they are not required under the applicable statute.  On what basis, if any, should a court interfere in the general partner’s decision as to the distribution of any profits?

 

Under the ULPA, we know that management of a limited partnership is vested in the general partner. Here, the limited partnership established a separate corporation (“Mt. Hood Meadows Development Corp.”) to act as the general partner. The majority rule is that there is no prohibition against using a corporate general partner.

The issue is whether a court could interfere with the general partner’s decision.  Here, since the general partner was a corporation we look to corporate laws to determine whether the general partner had the discretion to distribute only 50% of the profits.  General rule in corporations is that the management is left to the B/D.  The decision to distribute is a business decision and under the default rule it was within the discretion of the corporation. 

 

Section 7.32 of the MBCA allows S/Hs of a corp., whose stock is not publicly traded, to change the default rules by unanimous agreement. The facts do not show that an agreement was made by the S/Hs to change the default rule so the rule would apply and it would be within the discretion of the corporation to make the distribution.

S/Hs could argue that the general partner/corp. owes a fiduciary duty to its S/Hs. However, the general partner/corp. in this case is allowed protection under the business judgment rule.  Under the business judgment rule so long as the director makes a decision, is not interested in the subject of his business, the director is informed with respect to the subject of his business judgment to the extent he reasonable believes is necessary, and the director or officer rationally believes that his business judgment is in the best interests of the corporation then it is w/in the directors discretion.

Bottom line is, assuming we know who can make the decision, so long as it was made in good faith and it was not unreasonable the decision maker is given broad authority to make the decision. Here, we know that the corporation can make the decision and there are no facts showing that the decision was not made in good faith. Therefore, the corporation should be given broad authority to make the decision and the court should not interfere with its decision.

 

RULPA § 404(c)  (Like the Business Judgment Rule) (p. 261) – A partner’s duty of care to the partnership and the other partners in the conduct and winding up of the partnership business is limited to refraining from engaging in grossly negligent or reckless conduct, intentional misconduct, or a knowing violation of law.

 

               3.    Kamin v. American Express Company

Plaintiffs brought stockholders' derivative action, asking for declaration that certain dividend in kind was waste of corporate assets, directing defendants not to proceed with distribution, or, in alternative, for monetary damages. Individual defendants, corporate directors, moved for order dismissing complaint for failure to state cause of action, and alternatively, for summary judgment. The Supreme Court held, inter alia, that complaint alleging that corporate directors negligently permitted declaration of payment of dividend, without any allegation of fraud, oppression, arbitrary action or breach of trust, failed to state cause of action.

                      Class Notes

                      a.    This is a duty of care case in the context of corporate law

b.    Here, the S/H complained of a decision by the B/D to declare a dividend payable in shares of DLJ, which American Express had invested and lost. S/H argued corp. should have sold shares to get a capital loss that could be offset against gains for tax purposes

c.    In essence the complaint was that the directors were negligent in their business decision (there was no allegation of fraud or breach of trust)

d.    In the absence of such a complaint the suit is dismissed b/c directors are not liable for what might arguably be errors in judgment (this is the standard)

e.    The BJR can be invoked by Ds where they act in the absence of any conflicting interest and where it is shown that the process engaged in for decision making is not unreasonable under the circumstances

f.     So, as the court suggests, courts do not want to get involved and justifiably are concerned with substituting their judgment for the judgment of directors. Another consideration is judicial economy – courts are already busy as it is w/out getting involved in decisions of business organizations

g.    The B/D is vested with the discretion to manage a business and its affairs and this includes paying dividends

h.    This case also stands for the proposition that directors are not liable for mere errors in judgment

i.      There is a reluctance b/c it is difficult to replicate in the court room the situation the directors perceived when they made their decision

j.      More fundamentally, we do not wish to have directors be so risked adverse that they fail or shy away from taking chances. We have an economy that on a whole has benefited from the predisposition of many of entrepreneurs to role the dice

k.     Directors ordinarily are only liable for malfeasance and nonfeasance but NOT misfeasance

l.      The prescription is that directors should exercise care but they are not personally liable unless the are GROSSLY negligent not simply negligent

m.   The BJR includes the lack of self-dealing. Here, there was only a minimal hint of self-dealing – There was a 20 member B/D and the dealing would have only a slight impact on 4 directors – but the non-conflicted directors favored the plan adopted by the Ds and there was no showing that the 16 were corrupted by those with an interest

n.    The decision making process as a whole was one made in good faith and without self interest

o.    Conflict of interest is rather narrowly defined

p.    Section 401(c) really requires for the BJR – lack of interest, information to the extent reasonably necessary and a rational belief that the course of conduct is in the best interest of the corporation (i.e., the BJR rule is available if there is no conflict of interest and the decision making process is not unreasonable)

q.    One of the reasons underlying the BJR is that the S/H has some choices and these choices are maximized where the shares are publicly traded (if you do not like management – sell your shares)

q.    Where there is no market for the shares there is a greater predisposition for the courts to get involved

r.      For publically held corporations, the separation of powers accentuates the problem of “agency cost.”

s.    There is a policy of “non-interference” with BoD.  The more “purely business” the decision, the stronger the adhearance to the default rule (BJR).

t.      So much of law today is transactional.  There is a greater disposition of courts to review these fairness issues. Where some class of shareholders are getting ripped off, then courts are more likely to get involved.  Courts have an interest in fairness, as opposed to the distribution of dividends, so they won’t get involved in the business of the company.

u.    There is no liability for corporate directors for simple mistake or negligence. You have to show gross negligence or fraud to get liability.

v.      

 

C.    Duty of Loyalty

1.    Intro

a.    Importantly, the duty of loyalty, the other prong of the fiduciary duty, is approached differently than the duty of care – there is a different analytical framework

b.    In loyalty cases the burden of proof is on the D where as in duty of care cases the burden is on the P.

b.         In other words, the BJR does not obtain to duty of loyalty cases.

c.         Duty of Care cases – Skillfulness

d.         Duty of Loyalty cases – Honesty.

a.      There is a moral judgment associated with the D/L cases.

b.       

 

2.    Schock v. Nash

a.    In this case there was a power of attorney and a number of questions arose out of that power of attorney. The person with the POA made various gratuitous gifts to herself and others, and no express power in POA allowed person to do so.

b.    There is also a predisposition of courts not to accept extrinsic evidence to interpret the intent of the grantor

c.    Unless the intention to allow gratuitous transfers was expressly stated in the POA, no such power would exist (this is bright line rule)

d.    The court in Shock did not apply the bright line rule, rather they looked to extrinsic evidence

e.    Section 387 of the Restatement 2nd states undivided loyalty is required by the fiduciary

f.     Acting under a POA you are acting as an agent and have certain fiduciary duties including duty of loyalty

g.     Under Section 389 acting adversely is prohibited

h.    Under Section 390 even when acting under authority there must be full disclosure of material facts

i.      The requirement of duty of loyalty is more exacting than duty of care

j.      Condemnation of dishonest is more severe than those who are just negligent. Honesty goes to the core of character and we believe that most persons are capable of adhering to fundamental principles of honesty so are punishment is more severe for dishonest

k.     Lawyers must advise their clients of potential for conflict and advise them to seek independent legal advice on the conflicting transaction

l.      Schock allowed knowing, consented to, courses of conduct that involved the fiduciary in a conflict – principal may consent to conflict after consultation

m.   All doubts are resolved against the position of the fiduciary and the fiduciary bears the burden of proof to show that the transaction was allowed.

 

2.    Starr v. International Realty, Ltd.

a.    He failed to disclose that purchase price had been inflated by a commission and that International Realty had a right to buy the vendor’s interest in the sales K

b.    Issue was whether under these circumstances there was a violation of the duty of loyalty

c.    The court looked to Section 21(1) of the 1914 UPA, which provides:

that every partner must account to the partnership for any benefit and hold as trustee for it any profits derived w/out the consent of the other partners from any transaction related to formation, conduct, or liquidation of the partnership or from any use of partnership property

d.    You must account for profits but expenses can be deducted 

e.    After this case Section 404(a) was added to the revised act. Section 404(a) in the revised act shows the drafters had some problems with the breadth of fiduciary duties and as a result they were limited to duty of care and loyalty

f.     Section 404(a) states the only fiduciary duties a partner owes to the partnership and the other partners are the duty of loyalty and the duty of care

g.    Section 404(a) deletes the reference of fiduciary duties in connection to the formation of a partnership. Section 21 of old act placed fiduciary duty before, during and after existence of partnership.  New act took out duty during formation or before existence of partnership.

h.    If the court relied upon 404(a) rather than 21(1) the result would have probably remained the same. However, you could argue that here the case involved pre-formation and the new act got rid of fiduciary duties during pre-formation

i.      Bottom line is you should disclose info just to be safe

j.      404(d) deals with obligation of good faith and fair dealing – this obligation is supposed to be distinctly different from the requirement the UCC that applies to all Ks (it is supposed to be some where b/w UCC and fiduciary duties explained in Meinhard case.

l.         This good faith and fair dealing requirement is not intended to create rights that the parties did not at least attempt to address

m.    RULPA § 404(b) – Limits the duty of loyalty to three areas.

a.      Give the profit from a transaction to the partnership

b.      Can’t deal adversely to the partnership.

c.      Can’t compete with the partnership.

n.      Look up Meinhardt v. Salmon 249 ny 458

 

3.    Problem 7.4 – Obligation of Partner to Act at Request of Other Partner

Covalt and High were corporate officer and S/Hs in CSI. Covalt owned 25% of the stock and High owned the remaining 75% of the stock. Both men received remuneration from CSI in the form of salaries and bonuses.

In late 1971, after both High and Covalt had become corporate officers of CSI, they formed a partnership. The partnership bought land and built an office and warehouse building. In February of 1973, CSI leased the building from the partnership for a 5-year term. Following the expiration of the initial term of the lease, CSI remained a tenant of the building; the corp. and the partnership orally agreed to certain rental increases. The corp. made substantial improvements to the leasehold. Under the original lease any improvements to the premises were to accrue to the partnership upon termination of the lease.

In December of 1978, Covalt resigned his position as an officer of CSI and went to work for one of its competitors. Covalt, however, remained a partner with High in the ownership of the land and the building rented to CSI. On 1/9/79, Covalt wrote High demanding that the monthly rent for the partnership real estate leased to CSI be increased from $1,850 to $2,580 per month. High refused to increase the rent and took no action to renegotiate the amount of the monthly rent payable.

Assuming that $3,580 was the fair rental value of the land and building, has High breached his fiduciary duty as a partner?

High did not breach his fiduciary duty as a partner. Pursuant to Section 404 of the RUPA, the only fiduciary duties that a partner owes to the partnership and the other partners is the duty of loyalty and the duty of care.  Under 404(a) a partner will have satisfied their duty of loyalty so long as they account for any profits received, refrain from dealing adversely to the partnership, and refrain from competing with the partnership.

Here, there are no facts that show that High failed to account for any profits or that he was competing with the partnership.  The only issue with respect to his duty of loyalty is whether he acted adversely to the partnership.  Covalt may argue that the rent he requested was the fair rental value and by not charging the fair rental value High acted adversely to the partnership (i.e., High’s decision lost money for the partnership).  But this argument would probably not be sufficient to constitute a breach of loyalty.

As for a partner’s duty of care – this duty is satisfied so long as the partner refrains from engaging in grossly negligent or reckless conduct, intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of the law.  No facts in this problem suggest that High engaged in grossly negligent conduct, reckless conduct, intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of the law.  Therefore, High did not breach his duty of care.  

Note, that in a partnership as b/w the partners themselves, in the absence of an agreement by a majority of the partners, an act involving the partnership business my not be compelled by the co-partner.  Here, Covalt could not have compelled High to Act.

Also note, that in a partnership if the parties are divided as to a business decision affecting the partnership, and in the absence of a written provision in the partnership agreement providing for such contingency, then, as b/w partners, the power to exercise discretion on behalf to the partners is suspended so long as the division continues. The rule is different, however, as to transactions b/w partners and 3rd parties. In dealing with third parties a partner has the authority to act on behalf of the partnership in the usual way, even w/out the consent of the other partner

 

4.    Labowitz v. Dolan

a.    The question surrounds the allocation of profits and distribution of cash of a LP. Limited partners sued general partner for alleged violations of the distribution policy

b.    The trial court dismissed the complaint b/c it found that the discretion exercised by the general partner was expressly provided for in the partnership agreement

c.    On appeal the question was whether in fact the limited partners case should be heard and not summarily dismissed.

d.    The general partner argues in defense that the agreement is superior and no other evidence such as private placement memorandum in this case was allowed

e.    The private placement memo stated that it was the intended policy that all taxable income would be distributed

f.     Limited partners had to pay taxes and were not getting any distribution. There was a question as to whether this was classic squeeze out – tactic by general partner to force limited partners to sell their interest at a discount

g.    The limited partners are arguing the private placement memo and there was also an obligation of good faith and fair dealing that arises out of all Ks and the partnership agreement was a K, and that there was a breach of fiduciary duty, notwithstanding the partnership agreement, which, on its face, gave complete discretion to the general partner

h.    This case stands for the proposition that there is a fiduciary duty that is not extinguished by a partnership agreement

i.      There was a fiduciary relationship here b/c the general partner managed the partnership property for the benefit of the limited partners. Fiduciary duties apply in addition to those set forth in K and any limitation on the duty of loyalty must be expressly provided for (this is general rule followed in most jurisdictions, including TX)

j.      An agreement that no fiduciary duties apply is violative of public policy

k.     You can have specific waivers but they must be clear after disclosure and consultation and in some cases we may go further to require advice from independent counsel

l.      Majority rule is that fiduciary duty remains and is not extinguished by express agreement or K unless there is a specific waiver after full disclosure

                      m.   Boiler plate language is suspect and usually does not work

 

5.    Sonet v. [Plum Creek] Timber Co.

a.    Plum Creek Timber (limited partner) owns and operates a wood product and timber facility

       b.    Management is done by Plum Creek Management Company (General Partner)

c.    Here, we have the common law duties and partners - in light of their fiduciary duties - are not to act in their self-interest to the exclusion or disadvantage to those they owe fiduciary duties to

d.    Question in this case is to what extent can an agreement b/w the parties modify these common law principles

e.    Management will seek maximum flexibility to operate better and seek greater gains. The agreement will be central

f.     Principals and agents can deal after full disclosure if the transaction is fair and the burden is on the fiduciary to prove the fairness

g.    One way to prove it is fair is to look to market prices – landlord tenant arm’s length transactions

h.    Section 403a of the ULPA states that except as provided by agreement  a general partner of a limited partnership has the rights and powers and is subject to the restrictions of a partner in a partnership w/out limited partners

i.      Under 404b – we have the duty of loyalty. Under this section a partner’s duty of loyalty is limited to 3 situations:

       i.      to account for profits

               ii.     to refrain from dealing with a party that has an adverse interest to the partnership

iii.    to refrain from competing with the partnership in the conduct of the partnership business

j.      404 of RUPA states that partner only owes duty of care and duty of loyalty – 404b deals with duty of loyalty and 404c deals with duty of care

k.     In corporations with respect to duty of care you need to be grossly negligent to breach that duty. Partnership act goes along with gross negligence standard

l.      Section 103 of RUPA discusses effect of partnership agreements. Section 103b discusses what the partnership agreement may NOT do

i.      It may not eliminate the section 404b duty of loyalty but it may identify specific types or categories of activities that do not violate the duty of loyalty, if not manifestly unreasonable or all the partners or a # or % specified in the agreement may authorize or ratify, after full disclosure of all material facts, a specific act or transaction that would otherwise violate the duty of loyalty

       ii.     Under clause 4 you cannot unreasonably reduce the duty of care

iii.    Under clause 5 your cannot eliminate the obligation of good faith and fair dealing

m.   Broad discretion is available only after the most exacting disclosure, especially where the proponent is the source of the disclosure      

 

VIII. Firm’s Accountability for Notification to and Knowledge of the Agent

       A.    General Rules

               1.    Knowledge

                      a.    E.Udolf, Inc. v. Aetna

i.      The P notified D of losses it had incurred as the result of an EE’s dishonesty and sought from the Ds indemnification, plus interests, for those loses

ii.     Section 272 of the Restatement 2nd  is the imputation principle, which provides:

a principal is affected by the knowledge of an agent concerning a matter as to which he acts w/in his power to bind the principal or upon which it is his duty to give the principal information

iii.    There is a predisposition to impute the knowledge of agents to principles

iv.    Court concluded that knowledge of an EE may be imputed to and ER under EE dishonesty insurance policy if the EE holds a position of management or control in the exercise of which a duty to report known dishonesty of a fellow EE can be found to exist either explicitly or by fair inference from a course of conduct

 

                      b.    Problem 8.1 – Firm’s Accountability for Knowledge of Agent

Tom and Paul are partners in Law Firm. Tom and Paul agree that T will act as managing partner. As such, T handles all administrative and personnel matters.

On repeated occasion, P sees A, during the normal course of a working day, become unreasonably angry with secretaries and paralegals. P always admonished A to act in a more appropriate manner, but did not report A’s conduct to T. Several months later, A becomes angry and hits Clerk.

Clerk has now sued Law Firm, claiming that Law Firm knew of Associate’s explosive tendencies and negligently failed to either fire or control Associate. In Clerk’s suit, will Law Firm be responsible for P’s knowledge.

 

                             Answer to Problem 8.1

        Section 102 of RUPA provides (a) A person knows a fact if the person has actual knowledge of it.  (b) A person has notice of a fact if the person: (1) knows of it; (2) has received a notification of it; or (3) has reason to know it exists from all of the facts known to the person at the time in question. (f) a partner’s knowledge, notice, or receipt of a notification of a fact relating to the partnership is effective immediately as knowledge by, notice to, or receipt of a notification by the partnership, except in the case of a fraud on the partnership committed by or with the consent of the partner.  Hence, under § 102(f) Paul’s knowledge is attributed to the firm.  Hence, the firm may be found negligent under these circumstances.

UPA § 12 Notice to any partner of any matter relating to partnership affairs, and the knowledge of the partner acting in the particular matter, acquired while a partner or then present to his mind, and the knowledge of any other partner who reasonably could and should have communicated it to the acting partner, operate as notice to or knowledge of the partnership, except in the case of a fraud on the partnership committed by or with the consent of that partner.

ULLCA § 102 (a) A person knows a fact if the person has actual knowledge of it.  (b) A person has notice of a fact if the person: (1) knows of it; (2) has received a notification of it; or (3) has reason to know it exists from all of the facts known to the person at the time in question.

Restatement § 268 provides that notification to an agent is notification to the principal if the agent was actually or apparently authorized to receive the notification.

Restatement § 273 provides that knowledge that is only within an agents apparent authority will not be attributed to the principal unless a third party relied on the appearance of authority.

 

               2.    Notification

                      a.    Dvoracek v. Gillies

i.      Gillies rented a commercial space from Dvoracek. The lease provided for an option to renew for a two-year period.  Through the course of the original lease G had left checks with D’s EEs.  G testified that he left a notice of his intent to renew the lease with one of D’s EEs.  At the end of the original lease D sought to get his place back and G refused claiming he had filed notice to renew. The trial court directed a verdict for D, even assuming G delivered the notice, D’s EEs were not her agents for the purposes of receiving the notice. G argued the EEs had either actual or apparent authority to accept the notice.

ii.     Restatement 2nd of Agency Section 9 states that notice is a formal act

iii.    268 states that notification is effective when given to an agent authorized or an agent apparetntly authorized

iv.    Case was remanded b/c there was a question of fact with regard to apparent authority

 

       B.    Time From which Notification of Knowledge Affects Principal

               1.    Problem 8.3

Owner owns and operates Mall. Alan and Betty are leasing agents for the Mall and share an office suite in the Mall. As such, each is authorized to negotiate and to sign, on O’s behalf, leases covering space in the Mall. On Friday, B leases space to L, who planned to open a laser-tag game in the Mall.

Unknown to B, on Monday, Alan had leased the space in the Mall to Arcade, who planned to open a video arcade in the Mall. As a condition for signing the leas, Arcade insisted on the inclusion of an “exclusivity provision” under which O agreed not to lease space in the Mall to any other arcade or amusement center. Alan forgot to tell either O or B about the exclusivity provision included in Arcade’s lease.

Assume that Alan had authority to agree to the inclusion of the exclusivity provision, and that O will be liable to Arcade for breach of K. Assume further that O will also be liable for special damages if it knowingly breached the lease. Will O be responsible for special damages?

                      Answer to Problem 8.3

                      a.    Owner would be liable and would be liable for even special damages

b.    Authority to bind the owner with respect to leases also gives the agent the power to bind with respect to knowledge of agents

c.    Alan failed to inform the Owner and as a consequence the owner is liable

d.    The Owner is liable for entrusting power and authority in Alan

 

               2.    Biggs v. Terminal RR Assoc

This is suit alleging direct negligence by the RR for a number of circumstances.  First for failing to provide a safe place for Briggs to work, for failing to protect Biggs from Parr, and knowingly retaining a violent EE. The supervisor did not see much in terms of Parr’s propensity for violence.

                      Notes

                      a.    The scope of what was revealed was limited and more importantly the timing

b.    There must be sufficient time to communicate and sufficient time to react for imputation to apply

c.    Since there was no prior notice of Parr’s violent propensities then the RR could not be held liable for failing to provide Biggs a safe place to work

d.    Co-agents are not responsible for stopping action – they have no independent duty

 

       C.    Adverse Agents

               1.    Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Smith

Ds, Smith and other directors of Family Federal were being sued.  There was insolvency so the B/Ds were no longer in charge. 

                      Notes

a.    Our law provides for the absolute priority rule, which stratifies classes for distributions from an insolvent institution.  We have secured creditors, unsecured, S/Hs (preferred and common)

b.    Under absolute priority rule the secured creditors would look to the property to secure the credit they extended

c.    No S/H can be paid one penny unless the secured creditors and unsecured creditors are made completely whole

d.    By definition then, once there is insolvency S/Hs no longer have a viable interest in the corp.

e.    Here the S/Hs were pursuing the directors for personal liability b/c they could get nothing from the corporation

f.     The question here is the statute of limitations and whether these claims against the directors can be pursued

g.    Here, the court found that Oregon recognized the doctrine of dominion so the effect of this was that the suit was not time barred

i.      The Doctrine of Adverse of Domination serves either to delay the accrual of a claim by a corporation against its directors and officers, or, in the alternative, to toll the running of the applicable statute of limitations.  The doctrine is premised on the theory that it is impossible for the corporation to bring the action while it is controlled, or “dominated”, by culpable officers and directors.

h.    Attribution of knowledge to a corporation, given that a corporation is a person only w/in the contemplation of our laws, means that corporation is charged with knowledge of what its agents know unless the agent’s knowledge is so adverse as to destroy the relationship

i.      If its goes undiscovered SOL will be 5 years if it is discovered it will be 3 years

j.      The doctrine of adverse domination stays the running of the statute of limitation as long as the person w/in the contemplation of the law have an interest adverse to the corporation

k.     Here, the directors had an interest adverse to the corporation

l.           There are two versions:

i.      Under the single disinterested director version there is not stay if there is at least one single disinterested director

ii.     The other rule is the disinterested majority rule – if the majority of the directors have an interest then it will stay the running of the SOL

                      m.   This adverse domination doctrine is interposed to stay the running of the limitations

 

IX.   Ratification of Unauthorized Transactions

       A.    Intro

1.        The doctrine of ratification arises out of the risk of unintended dealings inherent in the use of agents in the market place

2.    Even where an agent dealing with a third party has acted outside the scope of the agent’s power to bind the principal, the principal may nonetheless be bound if the principal ratifies the agent’s act

       B.    Affirmance

               1.    Botticello v. Stefanovicz

a.    In 1965 Stefanovicz purported to lease a farm to Botticello – a 3rd party – and under the lease B would have an option to buy. S realized in 1968 that his wife was a tenant in common in the farm. B had taken possession of the farm and made substantial improvements. The wife knew of all this and when B decided to exercise his option to pay the couple refused. The trial court held that the wife was bound to the lease/option agreement either b/c S acted as her authorized agent or alternatively the wife had ratified the lease/option agreement.

Class Notes

a.    Agent Theory

               i.      Importantly, agency status is not inherent in the husband wife relationship

ii.     Even where one spouse tends to business more than the other spouse (e.g., one spouse does all the business for the couple) it is still not inherent

iii.    Nor is the agency relationship inherent in a co-ownership of property relationship

                      b.    Ratification Theory

                             i.      One basis for ratification is the acceptance of fruits and benefits

ii.     However, even though there was acceptance of fruits and benefits, these benefits perhaps flowed from the marital relationship and not from separate acceptance by the wife

                             iii.    Ratification also requires affirmation with the knowledge of all material facts

                             iv.    Ratification requires actual knowledge and not constructive knowledge

v.     So, the question in this case is the option and not the rental – Did wife know of the option

vi.    The wife knew some things – the occupancy and improvements – but not the option

vii.   Botticello was making some substantial improvements, so the question is - are these improvements consistent with a mere lessee

viii.  The question that arises here is what about these improvements by B that would make a reasonable person think B had some interest greater than a lessee. However, ratification requires actual knowledge not constructive knowledge

ix.    The court determined that the wife was not liable but S was still subject to liability, but the fact remains that they are tenants in common so what happens to one happens to the other

x.     What is important here is that there is no liability for the wife

 

               2.    Problem 9.1

Allen, purporting to represent Paula but w/out authority to bind, leases P’s farm to T for a term of five years      . A tells P what he has done, but does not tell her the term of the lease. Without inquiring as to the lease term, P demands, and accepts from T, the security deposit and first month’s rent. In view of P’s willful ignorance of the lease term, may P avoid the lease after she learns the term is five years? Did P know enough facts that she should have investigated before affirming instead of blundering ahead heedless of her ignorance? Under Restatement 91 & comment e, P may be found to have assumed the risk of proceeding with only generalized knowledge of the circumstances. Would it make any difference if the terms of the similar farm leases customarily range b/w 3 and 5 years? One to two years?

                      Answer to Problem 9.1

                     

 

       C.    Knowledge of Agents

               1.    Estate of Sawyer v. Crowell

                      Class Notes

a.    The facts seem clear that Durrance had no actual knowledge so the question is can the knowledge of his secretary be imputed to him so that it can be declared that Durrance affirmed or ratified the deal

b.    From last case we know that the knowledge is not imputed from one spouse to another

c.    We know that imputation with regard to agents is relatively automatic when we are talking about a matter within the authority

       i.      When dealing with leasing agents all knowledge of leases is imputed to the principal

d.    Here, there is no actual authority for the secretary

               i.      There are no documents or evidence showing actual authority

e.    The question is then was there apparent authority, which would require Durrance to have conveyed something to the 3rd party

f.     Here there was no direct conversation or any appearances

 

X.    Dissociation of Owners from Firms

       A.    Expulsions

1.        Intro

a.    UPA section 38(1) provides:

       When dissolution is cause in any way, except in contravention of the partnership agreement, each partner, as against his co-partners and all persons claiming through them in respect of their interest in the partnership, unless otherwise agreed, may have the partnership property applied to discharge its liabilities, and the surplus applied to pay in cash the net amount owing to the respective partners. BUT if dissolution is caused by expulsion of a partner, bona fide under the partnership agreement and if the expelled partner is discharged from all partnership liabilities, either payment or agreement under section 36(2), he shall receive in cash only the net amount due him from the partnership

b.    Bottom Line: When dissolution is cause by the expulsion of a partner, bona fide under the partnership agreement, the expelled partner loses the right to liquidation. So effect of expulsion is very important

c.    As a threshold matter it is the dissolution that the remaining partners want to prevent b/c dissolution coupled with liquidation rights means the business affairs are going to be hampered by the winding up process

d.    Where there is a liquidation right and a right to demand that the partnership be wound up then that person can seek an injunction to stop the use of partnership assets

e.    What is important is that the fiduciary duty continues although it may be modified by an agreement b/w and amongst the partners

f.     An agreement can permit expulsion w/ or w/out cause

g.    Generally, speaking –certainly from the standpoint of the group – it will be good to provide for expulsion w/out cause b/c the issue of cause can be expensive

h.    Such an agreement will be upheld unless there is bad faith – you can have an agreement to expel w/out cause but you cannot have an expulsion in bad faith

i.      If the expelled person can show the expulsion was made in bad faith – such as a desire to keep them from getting benefits of future deal – the fiduciary duties kick in

j.      The RUPA 601(3) allows for expulsion pursuant to a partnership agreement

                      k.     Note on Expulsions in LPs and LLCs

i.      Under RULPA 402(3), a general partner is w/drawn and cease to be a general partner when the general partner is removed in accordance with the partnership agreement

ii.     Under ULLCA 601(4) a member can be dissociated from the LLC based on the member’s expulsion pursuant to the operating agreement

2.    Problem 15.4 – Partner Termination Under Agreement

Levy, was a physician engaged in the practice of medicine as a partner in Nassau Queens Medical Group. By a majority vote of the partnership executive committee, Levy was expelled from the partnership on the ground that he was more than 70 years of age. The partnership agreement provided that a partner who was 70 years old or older could be terminated by a majority vote. Levy argues that the partners terminated him in bad faith. Other partners over the age of 70 were not expelled from the partnership. Levy believes that the real reason for the termination was Levy’s criticism of partnership decisions.

Answer to Problem 15.4

a.    The purpose of the termination clause was to provide a simple, practical and speedy method of separating a partner from the partnership, and in the absence of undue penalty or unjust forfeiture, the court may not frustrate this purpose

b.    While bad faith may be actionable, there must be some showing that the partnership acted out of a desire to gain a business or property advantage for the remaining partners

c.      Policy disagreements do not constitute bad faith since at the heart of the partnership concept is the principle that partners may choose with whom they wish to be associated

d.      The law upholds the premise of severing the partners from the partnership. 

e.      There is a fiduciary duty, but the partnership agreement shifts the burden to the expelled person to show that he was expelled in bad faith. 

f.        There is no Title VII protection since he was a partner, and is not considered an employee.

 

 

       2.    Bohatch v. Butler Binion

Bohatch was a lawyer in Butler Binion’s D.C. office. After Bohatch was admitted to partnership, she became concerned tat McDonald was over-billing the firms primary D.C. client. Shortly after raising her concerns Bohatch was asked to leave and she was given no year-end distribution. There was partnership agreement that freely allowed for expulsion of partner and there was no limit for grounds of expulsion – it could be w/ or w/out cause. Agreement provided that expulsion would not result in dissolution

Class Notes

a.    There is a fiduciary duty that attains and applies in this case – expulsions for purely business reasons do not fall into the bad faith category (expulsion can be made so long as there is no bad faith)

b.    Protecting client relations is especially important in context of a law firm and so if some conduct is offensive to partners or clients then it will not be bad faith

c.    Once there is this K the fiduciary duty is modified importantly w/regard to the burden of proof the burden of proof shifts to the expelled partner to show bad faith by showing and evil, malevolent or predatory purpose

d.    If you have an agreement the law is heavily in favor of those who expel as opposed to those who are expelled

e.    Butler Binion did breach the partnership agreement b/c there was no notice as required in the agreement

f.     Most jurisdictions if they are going to protect good faith whistle blowing will do so only if the person is right (majority rule is they are only protected if they are correct about their charges and claims)

 

       B.    Judicial Expulsions

1.        Intro

a.    We know that a dissolution is caused by the separation of any partner unless provided otherwise by the agreement

b.    If the agreement is at will then a partner may withdraw at any time

c.    If the partnership agreement is for a set term then a partner cannot withdraw from the partnership before the term expires without violating the agreement

d.    However, you can petition the court for dissolution

e.    Under UPA 31(6) a partnership can be dissolved by a court decree under UPA 32.

g.         UPA 32(1) permits a partner to petition a court to dissolve a partnership, among other reasons, where: (c) a partner has been guilty of such conduct as tends to affect prejudicially the carrying on of business and (d) a partner willfully or persistently commits a breach of the partnership agreement or otherwise conducts himself in matter relating to the partnership business that is not reasonably practicable to carry on the business of the partnership with him

 

2.    Problem 15.5 – Judicial Dissolution

A general partnership for the operation of an insurance business was formed for a five year-year term in 1934 with 10 partners. Partner Brown held the majority interest in the business, with the other nine partners sharing the remainder.  The partnership agreement provided that Brown would set the salaries of the partners, that the admission of a new partner would require the affirmative vote of a majority in number of the partners, and that all other decision would be made by an affimative vote of a majoirty in interest of the partnership.  Brown proposed the admission of Moore as a new partner, but it was defeated by a 7-3 vote. Thereafter, Brown reduced the salaries of the seven Ps and 50%. The seven Ps sued for a dissolution of the partnership and the trial court granted it.

Answer to 15.5

a.    Under UPA 32(1)(c) and (d) a partner can petition the court to dissolve a partnership (see intro above)

b.    Under the older statute we have 31 causes of dissolution. Section 31 causes are considered objective causes

                      c.    Causes for judicial expulsions are considered subjective

                      d.    Under 31(2) – in contravention of the agreement

e.    So, if a partnership agreement does not have a term it is considered to be at will and can be ended any time by the declaration of any party (default rule)

f.     Even if agreement is for a term partner’s may reserve the right to call it quits – way around this is to have an agreement to the contrary

g.    So, if you carry the burden to show that the basis exist then the court SHALL order dissolution (this is different then default rule for corporations which say court may order dissolution)

h.    The RUPA 601(5) provides that a partnership may be dissolved on application by the partnership or another partner, the partner’s expulsion by judicial determination

h.         Default rule is that any time a partners is separated then the partnership is expired unless there is an agreement to the contrary 

i.           UPA 38(2) – Allows for the continuation of the partnership by the members who were not at fault.

j.           The courts try to have the parties work out their differences because of the impact of the dissolution of the partnership.

 

 

               2.    Monteleon v. Monteleon

a.    Lower court directed a judicial sale saying the partnership should be dissolved. The question was whether the partner’s conduct amounted to a wrongful termination entitling the other partners to a dissolution. The appellate court found the other partner’s conduct was wrongful, entitling others to dissolution

                      b.    Court looked to 38(2) of old act

c.    The way around all of these questions is the agreement that the caveat that notwithstanding an agreement there is a fiduciary duty

 

       C.    Fiduciary Limits on Rights to Dissociation and Dissolution

               1.    Intro

                      a.    Notwithstanding an agreement, the fiduciary duty remains

                      b.    Agreement may just shift the burden of proof to the expelled partner to show bad faith

                      c.    Disagreement on policy is not bad faith

 

2.    Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft v. Beasley  

Beasley was a partner w/ firm’s Palm Beach office. In 1993 the Palm Beach office experienced a loss. When this happens some of the more able attorneys come to believe they are carrying the other attorneys and look to get out. In this case the firms management tries to please the young Turks by getting rid of the so-called less productive ones. Beasley was targeted and told they were closing office. One option was he could move to N.Y. or get a severance package (return of capital, bonus, and full shares due). Beasley sued for breach of fiduciary duty – after filing suit he was asked to leave

Notes

a.    Question is whether this is an expulsion or a w/draw?

b.    At common law if you wanted to get rid of a partner you had to dissolve and reform w/out that partner – the written agreement was the answer to this

c.    Cadwalader’s defense is that there was not any expulsion. Beasley said closing of office was in effect an expulsion – moving to N.Y. was not a reasonable alternative and his refusal of the offer was not a voluntary w/draw

d.    Agreement provided that w/drawn partner is entitled to only to a return of capital

e.    Beasley insisted he did not voluntarily w/draw, so this section was not applicable to him

f.     The partnership agreement provided that w/draw, death or any other event would result in dissolution of agreement unless 75% of remaining partners agreed to dissolve

g.    Thus Cadwalader’s argued that even if it were wrongful expulsion it would not be dissolved. Court disagreed.

g.      The court held that there was enough evidence to show that the firm anticipatorily got rid of Beasley, Beasley did not voluntarily w/draw and the anti-dissolution provision did not apply

h.      The court held that there was nothing in the partnership agreement that allowed for the “easy” expulsion of partners.  Since there wasn’t, there wasn’t much they could do except dissolve the partnership.

i.         You can expel for no reason, for good reason, but NOT for bad reasons.

j.         Once you have the agreement, then the burden is shifted to the expelled person to show bad faith.

 

 

               3.    Problem 15.7 – Unequal positions in dissolution.

G and H.B. are partners in Santa Maria Line Supply, which was formed in December 1949, for the purpose of conducting a linen supply business in Santa Maria, California. The partners agreed that George would act as managing partner. During the first 2 years, each partner contributed approximately $43k to the partnership. The partners have no other written agreement or oral agreement regarding the partnership and its affairs.

From 49 to 57, the partnership lost approximately $62k. During 58, Vandenberg Air Force Base opened nearby, and business began to improve. The partnership earned $3,824 in 58 and 2,282 in the first three months of 59. The partnership’s chief obligations are $47k owed to Mission Supply Service on open account and $12k owed to Bank of America.

Mission Supply Service, which is wholly owned by G, has sold the partnership all linen and machinery used in the day-to-day operation of its business from Mission Supply Service. Since 49 the partnership has paid Mission Supply Service a total of $234k. The proceeds of the loans from Bank of America was used to pay Mission Supply Service.

In April 1959 G dissolved the partnership, and demanded that it be liquidated. H.B. argues that G is acting in bad faith, and is attempting to use his superior financial position to appropriate the now profitable business of the partnership. H.B. believes that the amount owed Mission Supply Service may make it difficult to sell the business as a going concern. He fears that upon dissolution he will receive very little and that G will receive a business that has become very profitable.

                      Answer to Problem 15.7

a.    There is a principal known as bidding in which means the creditor can play with the paper entry of the debt

b.    If an item is auctioned a creditor can make a bid and not have to pay by referring to debt owed. This is why you find that creditor usually ends up with property

c.    There is probably enough evidence saying that this is over the line so the court could fashion a solution that would provide for a more equitable separation

d.    Court can do this by failing to grant dissolution or ruling that dissolution is unfair and then there would be some sort of settlement among the partners

e.    Superior financial position and knowledge will be a factor when determining bad faith

f.     You cannot take an action that is designed to benefit yourself over those who you owe a fiduciary duty to

g.      Is expulsion part of a scheme to deny a partner his just desserts? If so, its wrong.

h.      Is this a partnership at will or a partnership for a term?  It is a partnership at will? 

i.         UPA 31(1)(b) – By the express will of any partner when no definite term or particular undertaking is specified.

j.         Since there was a fiduciary duty between the partners, and the reason for the request for dissolution was the information you learned while in the partnership would be a violation of the fiduciary duty.

k.       Just because one of the partners could do better

 

4.    Konover Development Corp. v. Zeller

       a.    GP brought breach of K against LP claiming LP failed to deal with debts. 

                      b.    Notwithstanding the agreements discretion given to the GP with regard to the feasibility

                      c.    Notwihstanding this a fiduciary duty remains

d.    The GP had to prove the GP dealt fairly with the LP and had to prove that by clear and convincing evidence

e.    The exercise of the right under the K had to be viewed in light of all of the facts in the case including whether there was full disclosure, whether the amount was adequate, whether LP had access to independent advice, and degree of sophistication and bargaining power b/w the parties

f.     Agreement is not void against public policy but having the agreement does not take away the ability of a court to analyze and determine if a fiduciary duty has been breached

g.    Court determined that partner had a fiduciary duty

h.      Case was reversed and remanded to determine whether fiduciary duty was breached.

i.         There would have to be a determination if the partners acted in good faith, and if they acted in good faith regarding the partnership agreement.

 

               5.    Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman v. Cohen

a.    A partner was working on one case, and after being carried for a number of years on the eve of the judgment they withdrew.

b.    You can withdraw from law firm and take clients with you but you have a fiduciary duty so you must inform the firm you are leaving and if you plan on taking clients you should tell firm so they have opportunity to solicit clients to stay with them.

c.    The court found that this was a misappropriation of the client, and a breach of the fiduciary duty.

 

Problem 15.8

 

Competing with the partnerships.  This is a course of conduct to appropriate a partnership asset.  The wrongdoer holds the profits in a constructive trust for the partnership.  The remedy would be the extraction of the percentage of his profits as if the partnership were continuing. 

 

 

 


actual authority, 14, 20, 21, 30, 35, 38, 39, 43, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 59, 60, 61, 63, 80

apparent authority, 20, 35, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 60, 77, 80

Cases

Burns v. Gonzalez – Agency in Ordinary business matters., 54

Cheesecake Factory, Inc. v. Baines – partnership by Estoppel., 57

Delaney v. Fidelity Lease -- Against Frigidaire case.  Overrulled by RULPA 303(b)(1), 66

Frigidaire Sales Corp. v. Union Properties, Inc.  – Corporate General Partner, 66

duty of loyalty, 39

Hamilton Hauling, Inc. v. GAF Corp. – Unauthorized long term contract by A, 44

holding out, 57

inherent authority, 43

ordinary course of business, 56, 59

partnership by Estoppel, 57

Problem

6.1 – Partner’s Ability to Bind Other Partners and the Partnership, 53

Problem 6.4 – Partner Liability by Estoppel, 56

Problem 6.5–Liability Caused By Purported Partners-Distinction B/W UPA and RUPA, 58

Problem 6.6 – Partners as agents, 58

promoter, 26, 27, 28

R2A

§ 219(1)  -- Authority within the scope of employment., 50

219(2), 51

219(2) -- Exceptions on when the master is liable for the tort actions of the servant (agent)., 52

RA2 § 43, 38

Restatement (2nd) of A

219(1), 50

Restatement (second) of Agency

219, 50

Restatement (Second) of Agency

219(2)(d) – Speaking on behalf of the principal and there was reliance on what was said, 51

387, 39

389, 40

390, 40

391, 40

392, 40

393, 40

394, 40

395, 40

RSA

261 -- Principals who put in the position to conduct the fraud are liable., 52

RULPA

§ 303(b) – Safe Harbor conduct of things not establishing control, 66

§ 303(b)(1) – Allows for a G/P that is a corporation, 66

§ 401 -- Admission of General Partners., 65

§ 7 -- Liability of Limited Partners (requires reliance on 3rd parties), 65

RULPA 3.04, 29

RUPA

§ 301, 54

§ 301(1) -- Partner agent of partnership, 59

§ 308(a) -- Liability of Purported partner (problem 6.4), 56

§ 308(b) -- Liability of Purported partner (all partners consent to representation.  Problem 6.4), 56, 57

301(1) -- Knew or had notification that they had to authority., 55

301.1 -- Adds constructive notice vs. UPA 9.1 which is actual knowledge., 61

308 -- Liability by estoppel, 57

401(j) -- Disputes settled by a majority of persons (not interests)  See UPA 18(h), 61

401f -- Each partner has equal rights (See UPA 18e), 61

RUPA

§ 308, 58

RUPA 202(c)(3) -- Evidence of a partnership, 23

UPA

§ 16, 58

§ 7 -- LIability of Limited Partners (Requires control), 65

18(h) -- Disputes settled by a majority of persons (not interests)  See RUPA 401(j), 61

9(1) -- Every Partner is an Agent if carrying on the Usual Way, 55

UPA

9.1 -- Partership is bound  unless partner had no actual authority and 3rd party knew, 61

UPA

18e -- Each partner has equal rights (See RUPA 401(f)), 61

UPA 7(4) -- Formation of a partnership, 23


 


 [KS1]03/03/04