You Must Prove Damages With Reasonable Certainty In Business Lawsuits

Determining if you have provable damages is often the first step in analyzing whether to pursue a business lawsuit as a shareholder, partner, or member of a limited liability company.  Likewise, if you have been sued as a result of a partnership or shareholder dispute, reviewing the exposure or possible damages you face is an important part of determining an appropriate litigation strategy.  The question that must be answered is, how will the plaintiff prove to a judge or jury that the damages allegedly sustained are real, quantifiable, and reasonably certain.

In Connecticut, the party that brings the lawsuit has to prove damages with reasonable certainty.  A plaintiff must put forth evidence to afford a judge or jury a sufficient basis for estimating the alleged damages with reasonable certainty.  In other words, there must be evidence for the court or jury to calculate damages.  You cannot simply state “I have lost money” or “I have damages.”  There must be proof beyond speculation or your own subjective belief.

On the other hand, Connecticut law does not require exactitude or precision.  There are no hard and fast rules as to the level of proof required, but it must rise to the level of reasonable certainty or a reasonable estimate.  The level of proof may differ depending on the case facts, and that type of damages at issue.

For example, lost business opportunities may be harder to prove for business attorneys than other types of damages.  A recent appellate court case highlighted some of the evidentiary issues with lost profits.  In System Pros, Inc v Kasica, two equal shareholders of a company went through a lawsuit involving dissolution of their corporation and a trial on other tortious conduct.  At the trial level, the plaintiff shareholder convinced a trial court that he had damages for lost earning opportunities due to wrongful conduct of the other shareholder defendant.  To support his case, he admitted in evidence a series of documents and calculations as to wages he would have earned as a consultant if he was not locked out of the business.  The trial judge was persuaded and awarded damages.

However, the appellate court reversed on the issue and found that the plaintiff did not prove that he would have been hired as a consultant for any specific opportunities.  The appellate court decided:

Although the plaintiff presented ample evidence regarding the nature of the opportunities for employment that were not communicated to him, his testimony as to whether he would in fact have secured such employment resorted to conjecture and subjective opinion, which cannot constitute the basis for an award of damages

The appellate court decided that plaintiff left the trial court to speculate as to the lost opportunities based on plaintiff’s own opinion and assumptions.   The appellate court determined there were too many unknowns as to whether plaintiff would have profited from the opportunities he claimed he was denied by the defendant. The court highlighted that plaintiff needed to establish not only that there were opportunities, but that he was qualified for the positions and would have obtained the positions.

The Systems Pros case serves to highlight the various levels of proof that may be required to recover damages in a shareholder lawsuit.  To summarize, to establish damages for a shareholder in a business lawsuit, an attorney will need to offer evidence at trial showing a reasonable estimate of damages beyond speculation and personal opinion.

Lost Profit Damages in Connecticut for New Business Ventures

When business lawyers evaluate the merits of bringing a lawsuit, one of the first questions to ask a client should be “what are the damages?”  Many times, in business litigation cases, business owners want to seek recovery of lost profits with a very optimistic view of what is recoverable in a case.  In such cases, the next question to the client should be  “how do we prove the damages.”

When I consult with a new client that wants to bring a claim in court for lost profits, I will often ask the client to articulate how he or she would go about proving the lost profits.  There are no clear, bright line tests in Connecticut for what is or is not recoverable for lost profits.  Instead, attorneys are guided by the general law on lost profit damages and case precedents.

In Connecticut, the plaintiff bringing the case bears the burden of proving lost profit damages by a preponderance of the evidence.  When lost profit damages are available, the general standard is that a plaintiff must prove the damages with reasonable certainty.  Difficulty in establishing damages is not necessarily a bar to recovery and mathematical exactitude is not required.  Nevertheless, the facts and evidence must permit the trier of fact to form an objective basis to award damages, not merely speculation or subjective belief.  Basically, this means that the plaintiff has to provide evidence to support the claim for damages, not merely a subjective belief or speculative theory.

In the case of a new business venture, lost profit damages are available if a plaintiff can prove the damages with reasonable certainty.  Of course, proof of lost profits damages for a new business likely will require some creativity and perhaps an expert to provide the necessary proof.  The reason is that there is a lack of history of profits in the business so it may be difficult to project what would have happened in the future.  As a result, courts typically will look for more evidence from the new business plaintiff than an established business.

A recent appellate court case in Connecticut pointed out that the evidence in the case of a new business will often have to focus on the likelihood of whether the new business would have succeeded including an evaluation of factors such as business climate, business planning, experience of the business owners, and the success of similar businesses.  An expert may be necessary to help with proof of lost profit damages.  Simply providing a subjective belief without documentation or statistical analysis may fall short of the required proof.

Here are some instances where a new business satisfied the required proof for lost profit damages: (1) statistical analysis of future profits deemed reliable by the court; (2) expert testimony including an analysis based on similar new businesses; and (3) expert testimony based on relevant industry models for profits.  It is important to note that expert testimony alone will not necessarily suffice to prove damages.  A damages expert likely will face a reliability challenge from an opponent.  Once challenged in court, an expert’s methodology on determining lost profits must be deemed reliable before the testimony is permitted.  An expert’s subjective opinion alone, or opinion based on speculation, will not satisfy the standards for admissibility.

The take away here is that lost profit damages are available to a new business venture.  However, the level of proof required to recover such damages likely will be more difficult than for an established business.  Subject belief and speculation by the business owner as to the probable success of the business will likely fall short of the required proof.   A plaintiff considering a claim for lost profit damages for a new business venture may want to bring in an expert to evaluate the case and remove the damages from the realm of speculation.

 

 

 

HOW TO DISSOLVE A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY IN CONNECTICUT

Limited Liability Companies in Connecticut, and every other state, are created by statutory law. General Statutes Title 34 governs the creation and governance of LLC’s in Connecticut. Specifically, General Statutes sections 34-206 sets forth the means of dissolving an LLC. The LLC may be dissolved by:

  1. At the time or upon the occurrence of events specified in writing in the articles of organization or the operating agreement;
  2. If not provided in writing under #1, then by affirmative vote, approval, or consent of at least a majority in interest of the members; or
  3. By the entry of a judicial decree of dissolution.

The operating agreement for an LLC is the document the members execute to govern the affairs of the LLC. Many times they are drafted by an attorney. Operating agreements are not required. However, they are a good idea for a variety of reasons, including the issue of dissolution. It is also a good idea to have an attorney draft the operating agreement rather than resorting to Legalzoom. I have seen many instances of operating agreements from Legalzoom that simply do not cover the likely problems members of an LLC face when there is more than one member.

If members of an LLC do not have an operating agreement that defines how the company may dissolve and wind up its affairs, then by law the decision is controlled by General Statutes. This essentially means a majority vote can dissolve the LLC.

I recently came across an operating agreement for an LLC that covered many aspects of the affairs of the LLC, but it left out dissolution. As such, the members of the LLC faced a situation where a super majority (two thirds in this case) was required to permit a transfer of interest, but a simple majority would suffice for dissolution. The minority members had bargained for some ability to have input on transfer of interests, but neglected to address dissolution. The failure to address it in the operating agreement in this particular circumstance provided leverage for the holder of the simple majority interest.

If a member desires to dissolve an LLC but does not have majority control, or the required interest necessary under an operating agreement, then the last resort is what is called “judicial dissolution.” Under General Statutes section 34-207, a trial court in Connecticut can grant an application to dissolve an LLC “whenever it is not reasonably practical to carry on the business in conformity with the articles of organization or operating agreement.” Again, there is a specific reference by the legislature to the operating agreement. A member moving for dissolution likely needs to show the trial court that the other members are not carrying on the business in accordance with the governing document for the LLC.

One circumstance where a trial court likely will grant dissolution is where the members are in a deadlock. Deadlock tends to happen when the voting interests of the LLC are equal (i.e. 50/50 ownership) and there is no ability to break the deadlock. You see deadlocks mostly when there are two or more partners and the interests are divided equally such that the opposing sides have equal interests. If a dispute occurs, and the members did not address a means of breaking a deadlock in the operating agreement, then a member can seek to file a lawsuit in superior court requesting that the court dissolve the LLC.

Once an LLC is dissolved the company must wind up its affairs. The person winding up the affairs of the LLC may prosecute or defendant lawsuits on behalf of the LLC, settle and close business, dispose of and transfer property, discharge the liabilities of the LLC, and distribute any remaining assets. In the event of a lawsuit for or against an LLC, an attorney will be necessary to represent the LLC. The LLC essentially continues to exist during its winding up phase and can bring a lawsuit or face a lawsuit. Winding up may also require the LLC to make adequate payments to creditors followed by debts owed to the members and/or return of capital to the members. Winding up may also be addressed in the operating agreement.

Primer on Interpleader Actions Under Connecticut Law

The Connecticut Supreme Court (318CR76) recently issued a decision that provides a good overview of Connecticut’s interpleader law.  An action in interpleader is an equitable claim attorneys bring on behalf of clients to resolve ownership over disputed claims to property or money.  The typical case involves a situation where one party is the holder of money and there are two other parties fighting over ownership to the money.  Basically, the holder of funds is giving up the money to the court and throwing up his or her hands and saying “figure it out judge.” To avoid getting sued by either or both parties claiming ownership, the holder of the disputed funds files an interpleader action in state superior court.  The purpose of interpleader law is to avoid multiple lawsuits and to provide a more efficient means of resolving a dispute where the holder of money or property has no real interest in the outcome.

In its recent decision, the supreme court set forth the history of the interpleader action in Connecticut.  Initially, interpleader actions were based on Connecticut’s common law.  However, over 100 years ago, the Connecticut legislature specifically enacted a statutory cause of action for interpleader in section 52-484 of the General Statutes.

Section 52-484 states ‘‘[w]henever any person has, or is alleged to have, any money or other property in his possession which is claimed by two or more persons, either he, or any of the persons claiming the same, may bring a complaint in equity, in the nature of a bill of interpleader, to any court which by law has equitable jurisdiction of the parties and amount in controversy, making all persons parties who claim to be entitled to or interested in such money or other property. Such court shall hear and determine all questions which may arise in the case . . .”

In an interpleader case, the trial court will first determine if there exists legitimate adverse claims to the fund or property at issue and the property holder should be discharged.  Provided such legitimate claims exist, and interpleader is proper under the circumstances, the court will then decide by trial, if necessary, the outcome of the disputed claims.  Some examples where interpleader actions might apply include the following:

  • Life insurance disputes.  A life insurance company may know it has to pay out benefits, but there could be a dispute as to who is entitled to the funds.  For example, suppose a brother and sister dispute who is entitled to a life insurance pay out.  To avoid getting sued directly for improper distribution, the life insurance company brings an interpleader action and allows the brother and sister to fight it out in court.
  • Trust fund.  A trustee of a trust may not have a clear answer as to who to distribute funds to when a trust terminates.  This happens many times when a trust exists for generations and the terms of the trust are not clear.  To avoid trustee liability, the trust will bring an interpleader action if there are legitimate and competing claims to the trust property.
  • Real estate dispute.  In a case where a purchase and sales agreement breaks down, frequently there are issues over what to do with the deposit.  The purchaser’s funds are typically held in escrow by the real estate broker.  What happens when the purchaser demands the money back and the seller says no?  To avoid liability to either the purchaser or seller, the real estate broker might hire an attorney to file an interpleader action. The lawsuit would name both the purchaser and seller as defendants.

In each of these cases, an attorney drafting a lawsuit for interpleader will include all of the potentially interested parties.  The goal of interpleader law is to provide all interested parties an opportunity to resolve all questions of ownership in a single case.  The goal of the holder of funds is to avoid the costs and expense of litigation and a potential judgment for wrongful distribution of funds.  If you or your company is holding funds and multiple parties are claiming ownership, an interpleader action can be an effective means of resolving the dispute.

 

Dissolving A Corporation Under Connecticut Law

Under Connecticut law, there are various methods attorneys may use to dissolve or terminate a corporation.  It is referred to as dissolution of the corporation.  A dissolved corporation continues its corporate shell existence but stops carrying on business except where necessary to wind up the affairs of the company.  Winding up typically involves liquidation by collecting assets, disbursing assets, selling of assets and property, and discharging liabilities.

Corporate dissolution is governed by Connecticut General Statutes Chapter Title 33, Chapter 601, Part XIV.  Dissolution can be accomplished by any of the following:

  • Dissolution by the original incorporators or directors under Connecticut General  – voluntary
  • Dissolution by the board of directors and shareholders – voluntary
  • Dissolution by the Secretary of State – administrative
  • Dissolution by a shareholder proceeding in court – judicial
  • Dissolution by a creditor proceeding in court – judicial
  • Dissolution by a company proceeding in court – judicial

The first two methods are known as voluntary dissolution.  Typically, this means the company directors propose dissolution to the shareholders of the company.   The board typically notifies the shareholders of a meeting to address dissolution.  If the proposal passes, a certificate of dissolution is filed with the Secretary of State.  A company may elect to revoke the dissolution with 120 days by following the same procedure.  A company may have a transaction or business law attorney assist with the necessary documents and voting records.  The company may then proceed with winding up the affairs of the company which requires following the statutory requirements for effective dissolution.

Administrative dissolution typically occurs when the company has failed to maintain a registered agent or to file required reports with the Secretary of State.  For example, if the company fails to file an annual report for more than one year, the Secretary of State may take action and send notice to the company of the deficiency and potential for dissolution.  If there is no response or the deficiencies are not fixed, the Secretary of State of Connecticut may then prepare and file a certificate of dissolution.  Although these forms can be maintained without an attorney, some clients prefer to have a business attorney file the required reports.

Judicial dissolution is started with a lawsuit in court and typically involves litigation attorneys representing the shareholder or shareholders and the company.  Although an individual shareholder can bring an action in court by himself or herself (referred to as “pro se”), shareholders tend to hire attorneys based on the complexity of the proceeding.  Under court rules, the company must have an attorney.

The form of a judicial dissolution lawsuit is varied, but typically you have either a deadlock with management or a disgruntled or oppressed shareholder.  A deadlock occurs in cases of 50/50 control of a company and two groups of shareholders or directors are deadlocked in the management of corporate affairs.  The oppressed shareholder claims are based on a claim of unfairness with respect to ownership of shares in the company.  These cases are sometimes referred to as shareholder oppression actions, freeze out actions, or squeeze out actions.  These terms refer to a claim based on minority shareholder rights as the cases are brought by minority shareholders.

Connecticut General Statutes section 33-896 sets forth that a superior court judge may order dissolution when a shareholder brings an action and can prove 1) that there is a deadlock in management or an inability to elect directors; 2) there is shareholder oppression; or 3) the corporate assets are being wasted.    Seems simple enough.  However, there are complexities to these claims and the parties typically vigorously defend their positions.  Experts are often needed for damages, accounting, and forensics.  Many times, shareholder oppression actions end up on Connecticut’s complex litigation docket.  On this docket, the parties, attorneys, and litigants are subject to a specific set of procedural rules and the case is assigned to one judge for the length of the case.

This post is only an outline of typical examples and there are many details to each aspect of the statutory framework for dissolution.  Before seeking dissolution, shareholders should consider consulting an attorney.  Regardless of involving a lawyer, a shareholder may want to become familiar with the statutory framework for dissolution, the by-laws of the company, shareholder agreements, and the certificate of incorporation.  In a later post, I will go through some of the various types of judicial dissolution actions including oppression claims and the applicable defenses.

Do Members of LLCs Owe A Fiduciary Duty To Each Other in CT?

A limited liability company is essentially a combination or mix of a corporation and a partnership.  The LLC as an entity provides the flexibility of a partnership with the ability to govern and create ownership interests similar to a corporation.  The legislature codified the framework for LLCs in Connecticut in Title 34, Chapter 613 of the General Statutes.  The statutory frameworks permits the owners or members of LLCs to include specific governance provisions in a document called an “operating agreement.” Many times members use an attorney to draft the operating agreement. The operating agreement may cover a variety of topics including:

  • duties and rights of members and managers
  • finance
  • distributions
  • ownership and transfer of property
  • admission and withdrawal of members
  • lawsuits by and against the company
  • merger, consolidation and conversion
  • dissolution

If the members of an LLC fail to address any of these issues, the provisions for the Connecticut general statutes apply as a default.  With some exceptions, the statutory framework basically provides for simple majority control. The failure to address these issues typically results in significant control in the majority member.  So, if a minority member wants some aspect of control on these topics, the member would be well advised to take care of it by using an attorney to negotiate or draft provisions in the operating agreement with protections as part of the admission process.

Notwithstanding the above, members holding a minority ownership interest in an LLC continue to have rights that may provide some protection depending on the circumstances and the operating agreement.  In particular, a minority owner might be permitted to assert claims in a lawsuit for  breach of fiduciary duty or breach of statutory duty to address various inequities and unfair management of an LLC.  A minority interest holder might seek to apply these rights in various situations such as:

  • freezing out of the minority owner from affairs of the business
  • unfairly devaluing the member’s ownership interest
  • operating the company in bad faith
  • depriving the member of books and records of the LLC
  • use of deception and fraud in a buy-out of a member
  • unfair expulsion of a member
  • inequitable assignment of membership interest or sale of business
  • improper dissolution or valuing of membership interests
  • self dealing with excessive guaranteed payments or distributions

The outcome of these claims might depend on whether the court acknowledges a fiduciary duty exists between members of an LLC or between a member-manager of an LLC and the other owners.  The existence of a fiduciary duty is significant because it requires the utmost good faith and loyalty.  It also might help the attorney because it shifts the burden of proof in a civil case requiring the member owing such a duty to prove good faith and fair dealing.  As a result, the question in many disputes involving minority ownership of LLCs is whether a fiduciary duty exists.

In Connecticut, by case law, a court may deem a fiduciary duty to exist when there is “justifiable trust confided on one side and a resulting superiority and influence on the other.”  The relationship is broadly defined to permit courts to consider new situations.  It is generally a relationship “characterized by a unique degree of trust and confidence.”  The superior position of one party typically will permit a great opportunity for abuse of confidence.

At the outset, a fiduciary duty is likely to be found to exist if the operating agreement includes such duties for members or managers.  As such, an individual that is offered a minority stake in an LLC might want to insist that the operating agreement impose a fiduciary duty on the manager or controlling members.  In addition to an operating agreement, a claim for breach of duty may be found in General Statutes Section 34-141.  The statute states in relevant part:

 A member or manager shall discharge his duties under section 34-140 and the operating agreement, in good faith, with the care an ordinary prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and in the manner he reasonably believes to be in the best interests of the limited liability company, and shall not be liable for any action taken as a member or manager, or any failure to take such action, if he performs such duties in compliance with the provisions of this section.

Further, there are a series of trial court cases in Connecticut where lawyers have argued this point and judges have recognized a fiduciary duty between managers and/or controlling members of an LLC and the other members.  The reasoning is based, in part, on the law dealing with partnerships and the fiduciary duty owed to each partner.  There is some dispute as to the existence and extent of this duty, but the Connecticut Supreme Court has chosen to keep an open definition of a fiduciary relationship.  Nevertheless, until such duties are further codified or deemed to exist as a matter of law, a controlling member or manager might opt to have such duties disclaimed in an operating agreement.

A fiduciary duty may or may not be desirable depending on your ownership interest or your role in the LLC.  The take away here is that an operating agreement is the best method to clearly define the duties of members and managers.  The operating agreement can include specific provisions on the extent and nature of the duties of a manager or member of an LLC.  In the absence of a specific provision in the operating agreement stating otherwise, members or managers may be deemed a fiduciary with respect to other members.  Although not required, a lawyer familiar with LLCs can assist in ensuring valuable rights are in an agreement or bringing a lawsuit when rights are violated.

Old Judgments Can Come Back to Bite You – Hazards of Defaulting on Promissory Notes

A recent case from the Connecticut Supreme Court serves as a reminder that civil judgments are good for 20 or 25 years in Connecticut depending on how you seek to enforce the judgment.  The decision was in the case of Investment Associates v. Summit Associates, et al.  In this case, a debtor failed to pay on a promissory note and left a balance of about $272,000.00. The note holder sued in state court to collect on the note.  The debtor defended the case but moved to another state.  However, the plaintiff note holder ultimately prevailed obtaining a judgment in the outstanding amount.

The plaintiff brought the lawsuit in 1991 and obtained judgment in 1994.  The defendant left the state in 1992.  15 years after obtaining the judgment, the plaintiff moved to revive the old judgment in Connecticut.  Under Connecticut General Statutes 52-598 (c), the judgment remained valid.  The Court noted that the Connecticut legislature wanted to address situations where a defendant could avoid a Connecticut judgment by moving to a state that had a shorter time period for enforcing judgments.  In this case, the defendant left to South Carolina which had a ten year statute. 

Many business owners believe that if they have no assets and no cash they are "judgment proof." This means that even if they lose a lawsuit, there will be no cash or assets available to pay the judgment.   The old saying goes that you cannot get blood from a stone.  However, this case serves as a reminder that to remain judgment proof in Connecticut, your stone cannot have blood for 20 to 25 years.  

Otter Products Ratchets Up Its Enforcement of Counterfeit Otterbox Phone Cases

 Recently, Otter Products LLC, the maker of specialty mobile phone cases including their DEFENDER®, COMMUTER® and IMPACT SERIES® line of products, has stepped up its enforcement actions against buyers and sellers of alleged counterfeit goods bearing their federally registered trademarks.   To date, approximately 30 trademark infringement lawsuits have been filed against John Does and named individuals in the Central District of California, the Eastern District of New York and District of Colorado alleging the sale of counterfeit phone cases sold online including by Amazon marketplace, eBay and Craigslist sellers and retailers. 

Additionally, law firms retained by Otter Products have sent hundreds, if not thousands, of letters to suspected counterfeit sellers alleging multiple intellectual property violations including violation of the Lanham Act, federal trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, false or misleading advertising, unfair business practices and unjust enrichment.  Many of these letters allege illegal dealings in counterfeit Otterbox products as confirmed by the inspection of phone cases by an investigator who purchased a case online from the seller.  Moreover, these letters often make an offer of settlement should the seller wish to resolve the matter in lieu of being sued in a state that is typically not their home state.

 

 If you’ve received a letter from a law firm retained by Otter Products, it is best to consider hiring an attorney that has experience representing sellers of alleged counterfeit goods so that you can better understand your options and determine if settlement is the best course of action.  

Navigating FINRA’s Mandatory Arbitration Requirement – An Overview

 

 Raymond & Bennett attorney Joseph Blyskal contributed the following post to this Blog.

 I recently read an article indicating that arbitration was the preferred forum for member companies of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, but with a caveat–that the only real reason it was preferred was as damage control for the industry. With only some exceptions, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires arbitration of industry disputes, which simply means disputes amongst or between its members and associated persons. In addition, while nonmembers can compel members to arbitrate, nonmembers of FINRA cannot be compelled to arbitrate. Regardless of whether the motive is fiscal, public relations, or other, the mandatory arbitration requirement may be hard to get around. However, the presence of a good faith claim against nonmembers can create the option to litigate an industry dispute outside of arbitration.   

                                        

                                                           

FINRA members are defined as any entity: “who is registered or has applied for registration under the Rules of FINRA” or  “[a] sole proprietor, partner, officer, director, or branch manager of a member, or other natural person occupying a similar status or performing similar functions, or a natural person engaged in the investment banking or securities business who is directly or indirectly controlling or controlled by a member, whether or not any such person is registered or exempt from registration with FINRA.”FINRA Manual Rule 13100(r). Some examples include: Metlife Securities, Inc., Bernad L. Madoff (now obviously inactive), and ING Financial Markets, LLC.

There are only a few enumerated exceptions to the mandatory arbitration rule. Disputes arising out of the insurance business activities of a member that is also an insurance company, claims alleging employment discrimination in violation of a statute, class actions, shareholder derivative actions, and matters that are inappropriate for the forum in light of the “purposes of FINRA and the intent of the Code” are excluded. FINRA Manual Rule 13200-13205. Depending on the circumstances, these are easily applied.

Less easily applied are the two threshold requirements that trigger mandatory arbitration for a dispute–that the dispute arises from the (1) business activities of (2) members or associated persons.  These must be addressed before considering the application of the exceptions.

Whether a dispute arises from business activities is a factual inquiry. It is liberally construed, however. It includes claims for commissions earned, discharge from employment, and non-statutory discrimination claims. Generally, this is a threshold element.  

The more litigation-friendly element is the second—that the dispute is between members, a member and an associated persons, or associated persons. Whether an entity is a FINRA member is not usually debatable (there are formal registration requirements). However, whether an entity is an “associated person” is often subject to debate.  Courts often deny motions to compel arbitration where a factual showing is not made to support a finding of “associated person” as defined in the Code.

Cases where there are parent companies and subsidiaries involved in the dispute, or where there are employees or registered representatives as parties that are not FINRA members, or not employed by FINRA members, are breeding grounds for litigation over this second threshold provision.

Of course, in any case—whether the threshold elements are present or an exception applies—the general rule that those not party to an agreement to arbitrate cannot be compelled to do so applies to the FINRA arbitration provision. Thus, litigation is clearly a viable option where there is at least one entity involved that is not a FINRA member.

While difficult to get around the arbitration provisions of FINRA, it may be possible to do so. Litigants, both those prosecuting and defending claims, should identify and categorize all the disputants before making a determination that arbitration is indeed “mandatory”.

 

Connecticut Bar Association Launches Blog

Rule of Law Blog:

The Connecticut Bar Association has launched this new blog. The purpose of the blog is to "ensure a sustaining interest" in the discussion of "what our laws are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how they can improve."    Today, there is a post related to President Obama’s executive order related to reviewing the federal regulatory structure and its impact on business.  There is a good comparison of positions from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I look foward to following the posts on this new blog. Congratulations to the CBA.