Co-Founder Christopher Kimball in Hot Water with Former Employer America’s Test Kitchen

America’s Test Kitchen

After a seemingly amicable separation last year, things between America’s Test Kitchen Inc. (ATK) and co-founder Christopher Kimball have quickly, now publicly soured. ATK, the locally-based media company behind Cook’s Illustrated magazine and the television show America’s Test Kitchen, sued the celebrity chef and former employee in the Business Litigation Session on Halloween over Kimball’s new business venture, “Milk Street.” Kimball had been with ATK since the early 1990s, as a senior executive and minority owner who acted, the complaint alleges, as the de facto general partner. According to the complaint, which contains highly detailed, stunning allegations gleaned from a … Continue reading

Gold Medal: A Case Study Involving Over 30 Years of Buyout Negotiations

GoldMedal

Last month, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”)weighed in on a contentious family business dispute in Chambers v. Gold Medal Bakery Inc.   This case demonstrates how heated (and litigious) family negotiations for a corporate buyout can become and clarifies the scope of shareholder and director access to privileged corporate documents. Gold Medal involves two closely held corporations that comprise a Fall River wholesale bakery and bread distributor.  (You might recognize their “Fiber One” bread products.)  Much like the infamous case involving the Demoulas brothers that we discussed in an earlier blog post, here the two LeComte brothers (Roland and Leo) … Continue reading

Resolve Business Divorce Disputes Without Stepping into a Courthouse

handshake

Involving the court should not be a matter of course in every business divorce.  For good reason, alternative dispute resolution is becoming increasingly popular in dissolving business relationships.  With a strong mediator, pre-litigation mediation is a powerful tool to reach a settlement and avoid the delay, expense, and emotional wrangling of drawn-out litigation. Although mediation often occurs well after the inception of a court case – either by court order or when the parties finally become comfortable with the idea of settlement – it would be smart to explore mediation prior to litigation, or at the inception of litigation.  A … Continue reading

Court Rules on Non-Solicitation Agreement and Social Media

stock-footage-young-woman-in-hair-salon

In Invidia LLC v. DiFonzo, a case involving a non-compete between a Belmont hair salon and its former stylist, the Middlesex Superior Court recently denied the plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction. The Court reasoned that Invidia failed to establish that the non-compete would be found enforceable and that the salon would suffer irreparable harm. More interesting was the Court’s stance on the plaintiff’s claims that the stylist used Facebook to solicit its clients. The stylist “friended” eight of the salon’s customers and then her new employer posted on the stylist’s Facebook page that they had hired her. A client responded … Continue reading

Even Success Can Breed Failure

In a recent Suffolk Superior Court decision[1], Judge Lauriat determined that defendants, majority owners of Boylston Cypress LLC (“BC”), were not liable to plaintiffs, the minority members, for breaches of fiduciary duties and contract regarding the LLC’s accounting practices.  BC was created for the sole purpose of developing the Cypress Lofts in Brookline.  It spent $20 million acquiring the property and constructing the condominiums and parking spots.  Although the project seemed to be a success by all standards, with all condo units and parking spaces being leased or sold and both parties (and the main real estate broker) making a … Continue reading

Demoulas v. Demoulas SuperMarkets, Inc.: A Case Study in Business Ventures Going Bad

Market Basket

The Demoulas dispute started with a trusted family relationship that went bad.  Partly what made it infamous was probably a result of the parties’ wherewithal – they have been able to fund decades of litigation. As the years passed and millions in fees accrued, the animosity built. In 1917, Arthur Demoulas opened a local grocery store in Lowell.  He and his wife operated it for some 40 years and then handed it over to their sons, George and Telemachus (“Mike”).  The brothers grew the business quickly and their families were very close.  In 1964, Mike and George executed wills, stating … Continue reading