Ritchie v. Rupe (Opinion)Annotate this Case
A minority shareholder (Plaintiff) filed suit against a closely held corporation and the corporation’s board of directors, alleging that the directors engaged in oppressive conduct and breached their fiduciary duties by refusing to buy Plaintiff’s shares for fair value or meet with prospective buyers. The jury found in Plaintiff’s favor on essentially all of her claims. The trial court rendered judgment on the jury’s verdict and ordered the corporation to purchase Plaintiff’s shares for $7.3 million. The court of appeals upheld the buy-out order, concluding that the directors’ refusal to meet with Plaintiff’s prospective purchasers constituted oppressive conduct as a matter of law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the directors’ conduct was not “oppressive” under the relevant statute; (2) the statute does not authorize courts to order a corporation to buy out a minority shareholder’s interests; and (3) there is no common-law cause of action for “minority shareholder oppression.” Remanded for consideration of Plaintiff’s breach of fiduciary duty claim.