Case Law Update: What are Acts of Shareholder Oppression?

In Stephanie (Younger) Waters v. G&B Feeds, Inc. and Wiliam Younger, No. SD29745, March 4, 2010, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's finding of shareholder oppression, showing that a pattern of oppressive acts is key to the cause of action.  The trial court recited a medley of actions taken by Appellant-Defendant which the trial court considered to be acts of shareholder oppression:

[h]e assumed control of the corporation and the operation of its business without lawful authority and in complete disregard for the rights of [Respondent]. He borrowed money and refinanced debts on his own without consultation with [Respondent]. He testified that throughout the term of the business he purchased livestock feed at cost for [his] herd of 500-600 head of livestock, a substantial savings over a period of six years. However, the court has no evidence, other than [Bill’s] testimony, as to any such amounts paid for feed. He declined the opportunity to pay [Respondent] $70,000[.00] for her stock, the amount she had paid for it, and thus be in a position to have complete ownership of the corporation and the lawful right to operate the corporation business as he was doing without lawful right. He refused to cooperate in the sale of the business property to the ultimate financial detriment of both shareholders. He retained all rental receipts from the storage units and gave no accounting therefore. He has totally failed to give a proper accounting of his stewardship of the business affairs.


The Court of Appeals went on to hold that there was "sufficent evidence supporting the trial court's determination that [Appellant-Defendant] breached his fiduciary duty to Respondent in his dealings with her and in his operation of the affairs of [the company]"  and upheld the trial court's finding of minority shareholder oppression.

For the entire decision, click here.