Articles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court

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Plaintiff Alice Finn appealed a Superior Court order denying her motion to affirm, and granting the defendants Ballentine Partners, LLC (BPLLC), Ballentine & Company, Inc., Roy C. Ballentine, Kyle Schaffer, Claudia Shilo, Andrew McMorrow, and Gregory Peterson's motion to vacate a final arbitration award. Ballentine and Finn founded Ballentine Finn & Company, Inc. (BFI). Each owned one half of the company’s stock, and Finn served as the Chief Executive Officer. Later, four other individuals became shareholders of BFI. In 2008, Ballentine and the other shareholders forced Finn out of the corporation and terminated her employment. At the time of her termination, Finn held 37.5% of the shares of BFI. BFI gave Finn a promissory note in the amount of $4,635,684, which represented 1.4 times earnings for her shares for the 12 months before her termination. This amount was below the fair market value of Finn’s shares. Finn challenged her termination before an arbitration panel in 2009. This first arbitration panel found that Finn’s termination was unlawful and awarded her $5,721,756 for the stock that BFI forced her to sell and $720,000 in lost wages. The panel recognized that BFI likely did not have sufficient liquidity to pay the award immediately, so it authorized BFI to make periodic payments. After the first panel award, BFI formed BPLLC, contributed all of its assets and some of its liabilities to BPLLC, and became its sole member. BFI then changed its name to Ballentine & Company. After the reorganization, Ballentine & Co. sold 4,000 preferred units, a 40% membership interest in BPLLC, to Perspecta Investments, LLC. Perspecta paid $7,000,000 to Ballentine & Co. and made a $280,000 capital contribution to BPLLC. The defendants asserted that the membership interest had to be sold in order to raise funds to pay the arbitration award to Finn. In 2013, Finn filed a complaint and a motion to compel arbitration in superior court, alleging that she was entitled to relief under the “Claw Back” provision of the Agreement. The defendants moved to dismiss Finn’s complaint, arguing that it was barred by res judicata. A second arbitration concluded that Finn was entitled to an award based upon an unjust enrichment claim. and awarded Finn $600,000 in equitable relief. Returning to court, Finn moved to affirm, and the defendants moved to vacate in part, the second arbitration award. Applying the "plain mistake" standard of review found in RSA 542:8, the trial court ruled that the second panel’s award of additional damages to Finn on her unjust enrichment claim was barred by res judicata. Finn moved for reconsideration, arguing that the FAA applied to this case. The trial court denied the motion. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that the trial court did not err in ruling that RSA 542:8 was not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), and that the second arbitration panel committed a plain mistake of law by concluding that res judicata did not bar Finn’s claim, it affirmed. View "Finn v. Ballentine Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

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Petitioner City of Concord appealed a New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) decision that a grievance filed by respondent, the Concord Police Supervisor[s’] Association (Union), and a retired bargaining unit member was arbitrable pursuant to the parties’ collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The City and the Union were parties to a CBA that expired on December 31, 2012. Lieutenant Paul Leger retired on January 31, 2013, while negotiations for a successor CBA were ongoing. Negotiations for the successor CBA culminated in an agreement signed on December 19, 2013, nearly eleven months after Leger retired. In March 2014, more than a year after Leger retired, he and the Union filed a grievance with the City because he did not receive the cost of living wage adjustment effective January 1, 2013. The City denied the grievance, and the Union subsequently demanded arbitration. Finding no reversible error in the PELRB's decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Appeal of City of Concord " on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Salvatore Rabbia appealed a superior court order that ordered $37,000 held in escrow be dispersed to Intervenor Automotive Finance Corporation instead of to him. Plaintiff was a principal in the corporate Defendant Harvard Auto Sales (d/b/a "Hitcars.com"). The company was in the business of salvaging motor parts; Automotive Finance Corporation and Plaintiff were two of Harvard Motors' creditors. AFC financed Harvard's purchase of inventory. Plaintiff was involved in a long-standing dispute with Harvard. The issue before the Supreme Court invovled Plaintff's and AFC's competing claims to funds Harvard gave to their counsel to hold in escrow in the summer of 2008 while settlement discussions with Plaintiff were ongoing. Upon careful review of the superior court record, the Supreme Court concluded that a "transfer" occurred when the Court affirmed an earlier trial court decision requiring disbursement of the escrowed funds to Plaintiff. As a result, Plaintiff acquired both legal and equitable title to the escrowed funds, entitling him to take them free of any perfected security interest AFC may have had in them. The Court reversed the superior court decision with respect to release of the funds to AFC. The Court affirmed the superior court with respect to all other matters in this case. View "Rabbia v. Rocha" on Justia Law