Three decisions from the North Carolina Business Court were affirmed today by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. They involve fiduciary duties of members of LLCs, the right of limited partners to sue directly for injury to a partnership, and the obligation of the personal representative of an estate to give notice to creditors. They are:
Kaplan v. O.K. Technologies, LLC, in which the Court of Appeals ruled that a member of an LLC without majority control does not have a fiduciary duty to the other members of the LLC or to the LLC itself. Nor does a manager have a fiduciary duty to the other members, as that duty is owed directly to the LLC. The Court also affirmed the Business Court’s ruling that the Plaintiff’s control over the funding of the LLC did not create a fiduciary duty. The Business Court ruling was by Judge Tennille, Judge Stephens wrote the appellate opinion.
Gaskin v. Proctor, ruling that a limited partner was not entitled to bring suit in his personal capacity for claimed injury to the partnership in the absence of "a special duty or a separate and distinct injury." The Court rejected the argument that the limited partner was entitled to maintain his suit due to "the closely held nature of the company, and the domination of the company by the defendants and resulting powerlessness of the plaintiffs." The Business Court ruling was by Judge Diaz, Judge Stroud wrote the appellate opinion.
Azalea Garden Board & Care, Inc. v. Vanhoy, holding that the personal representative of an estate was not obligated under N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 28A-14-1(b) to give personal notice to a creditor because the creditor’s claims were not "actually known" or "reasonably ascertain[able]" by her. The claims of the Plaintiff were barred because it failed to assert its claim by the date specified in the notice of the estate administration published in the newspaper. The Court said that the initial burden should be with the claimant "to produce a forecast of evidence demonstrating that a material issue of fact exists as to whether its identity and its claim were reasonably ascertainable" a standard which the Plaintiff was unable to meet. The Business Court ruling was by Judge Tennille, Judge Robert C. Hunter wrote the appellate opinion.