BUSINESS LITIGATION CASES
OPPRESSION OF MINORITY SHAREHOLDERS
Statute of Limitations
A minority shareholder, pursuant to MCL 450.1489, may seek relief from majority oppression. The general statute of limitations is a period of 6 years for general oppressive conduct. The reason apparently is because the minority shareholder has the burden of establishing “a continuing course of conduct or a significant action or series of actions that substantially interferes with the interests of the shareholders, as a shareholder.” Therefore, the statues allow a long “look back” at majority misconduct with respect to equitable relief available. In Estes v. Idea Engineering, 250 Mich App 270 (2002) the Court of Appeals found that the 6 years provides an appropriate amount of time to produce proof of a pattern of misconduct and to seek relief.
The equitable relief available is broad and includes, among other things: dissolution and liquidation of the corporation, injunctions and Court ordered buy-outs.
An important distinction is made under the statute, however, with respect to relief consisting of monetary damages. Specifically, claims for money damages must be brought within 3 years of accrual or within 2 years after the aggrieved shareholder discovers or should have reasonably discovered the damages, which ever occurs first. Therefore, a minority shareholder should seek legal counsel at the first signs of oppression to protect his rights. A delay in prosecuting a case might result in a denial of money damages even though significant equitable remedy is available.
[Guy Vining, an attorney, in metro-Detroit, maintains his office in Taylor, Michigan, where he serves the local communities and the tri-county area. If you or a family member of friend would like a no-obligation no cost consultation, just call or E-mail Guy Vining of Vining Law Group, P.L.C to schedule a meeting.]