New partnerships typically start with optimism, but not all live up to those dreams. Whether it is a difference of opinion or they left for greener pastures, the remaining partner or group of partners may feel like they’ve been abandoned. The departure also leaves them with the mess of shutting down the business or restructuring; in either case, they are likely angry and frustrated. It can also lead to a lawsuit.
Can you sue them?
The answer to this question hinges on several factors. The partnership or operating agreement should be the first place to check, but the departure must follow applicable laws. Generally, contracts allow partners to leave and may trigger the business’s dissolution.
The conditions for abandonment
There are remaining ownership may have valid reasons for claiming abandonment:
- The partner breached the contract when they left.
- The departing partner violated their fiduciary duty.
- The departing partner violated civil and/or criminal laws.
- The departure recklessly and intentionally caused the business harm and benefitted themselves.
Litigation may be the best option
Litigation takes time, costs money and may cause a distraction. Nonetheless, it may be the best option for getting damages they caused the business. Going to court is also an excellent way to get the necessary closure or highlight (in a public forum) their role in causing damage to the company, partners and even employees.
Most business law attorneys spend very little time in court, so discussing the potential of an abandonment lawsuit with an attorney who handles business litigation is essential. Their background and skill set give them the tools to recognize the case as winnable and then see the case to its conclusion.