Articles Tagged with Business

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In the June 20, 2019 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF wrote “Piercing the Corporate Veil Under Pennsylvania Law.”

In its simplest form, the piercing of the corporate veil is an equitable remedy available to the creditors of corporate entities to request the court to hold their owners liable for the corporate debts. The underlying cause of action against the corporate entity could be a contract or tort action, none of which is attributable to its owners. For the creditors, the veil-piercing is desirable as their last resort to recover their damages while for the owners, it is detrimental as it exposes them to the type of liability that they wished to exonerate themselves from by forming a company in the first place. These two competing interests drive the forces behind the state laws on substantive elements and procedural requirements for veil-piercing: the more favorable the state policy is toward preserving limited liability, the harder it is under the state law for the court to disregard corporate entity, and the other way around. Pennsylvania law adopted a “strong presumption” against veil-piercing, see Stephen B. Presser, “Section 2:42.Pennsylvania, in Piercing the Corporate Veil,” (last updated July 2018).

Substantive Elements

Pennsylvania state and federal courts applying Pennsylvania law has long listed a vast set of factors that the court may consider in its decision to disregard the corporate shield, including, among others, using the corporate form as a sham to pursue fraudulent or illegal activities or to cause injustice, ignoring corporate formalities, undercapitalizing the company and exerting control to influence the corporate decisions and actions for personal interests. Continue reading →

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In the January 3, 2019 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward Kang, Managing Member of KHF wrote “Defending Officers and Directors From a Lawsuit by the Company.

When a corporate director or officer is sued by a third party for alleged misconduct carried out in her capacity as director/officer, the company generally indemnifies the director/officer by defending her against the lawsuit. The company’s duty of indemnification arises from both the law and governing corporate documents (e.g., articles of incorporation, bylaws or employment agreement). While there are limited exceptions to the company’s duty of indemnification—e.g., the director/officer acted in her personal capacity or that she acted in bad faith against the interest of the company—the duty of indemnification is broad. The company must defend the director/officer, at least until the court determines otherwise. What protection does a corporate director/officer have, however, if the person suing her is the company itself?

A company sues its officer or director more frequently than many people think. The company could bring a direct lawsuit against an officer or director for a breach of fiduciary duty (e.g., alleged self-dealing). Sometimes, a shareholder could bring a derivative lawsuit under the company’s name against the officer or director. Continue reading →

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In the November 8, 2018 edition of The Legal Intelligencer, Edward T. Kang, Managing Member of KHF and Kandis Kovalsky, Associate of KHF, co-authored “When Noncompete Agreements Involve Competing Laws.”

In situations where employers also make their employees, or certain employees, agree to restrictive covenants, particularly noncompetes, companies expect the same uniformity and predictability regarding their enforceability as to each employee, regardless of where the employee works or lives. Employees, on the other hand, often expect (as we learned through a recent case) that even with another state’s choice of law provision, they will still be afforded the protection of the laws of their own state. This disconnect is no clearer than where non-California headquartered companies hire California residents as employees and require them to sign noncompetes governed by another state’s law. In California, noncompete agreements are generally unenforceable (with some limited exceptions). This is well-known, particularly by California residents. So, what happens in this situation if the California employee violates their noncompete? Continue reading →

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Beer
In June, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced the largest fine ever imposed upon a beer wholesaler by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.[1]  The Hunterdon Brewing Company (“Hunterdon”) agreed to a fine of $2 million to avoid a suspension of its license in light of allegations that it committed trade practice violations.[2]  Beer wholesalers such as Hunterdon act as intermediaries between brewers and retailers by purchasing beer from craft breweries such as Dogfish Head, Weyerbacher, and Avery and reselling the beer to retailers such as bars and restaurants.  Chief among Hunterdon’s alleged trade practice violations was its alleged sale of draft beer tap systems at “below fair market prices” in violation of N.J.A.C. 13:2-24.1.[3]

The regulations Hunterdon is said to have violated are part of a three-tier distribution system that was established by most states in the aftermath of prohibition.[4]  The three-tier distribution system, which traces its origins to a study entitled Toward Liquor Control that was financed by John D. Rockerfeller, Jr., a noted teetotaler, creates a separation between alcohol manufacturers and retailers.[5]  As a result, wholesalers like Hunterdon exist to act as intermediaries between brewers and bars for the sale of beer.

Toward Liquor Control, in no hidden terms, made clear that its goal was to limit alcohol consumption by making the sale of alcohol difficult and expensive.[6]  As part of this scheme to increase the price of alcohol, three-tier distribution systems 1) prohibit direct sales from manufacturers to retailers, and 2) limit the ability of brewers and wholesalers to incentivize retailers to carry their products.[7]