Recent Massachusetts case on corporate freezeouts

A recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) found that in a close corporation context, the estate of one of the company’s founders that was a minority shareholder was not entitled to a buyout.  See here for the opinion:

The court stated that in a freeze-out situation, the buyout is not the only reasonable remedy.  Instead, since the freeze-out denies the minority’s “reasonable expectations of benefit” of being a stockholder, the remedy should, to the extent possible, restore to the minority shareholder those benefits reasonably expected, but not received because of the breach.

The court explained that “in ordering the defendants to purchase the plaintiff’s stock at the price of her pro rata share of the company, the judge created an artificial market for the plaintiff’s minority share of a close corporation — an asset that, by definition, has little or no market value.”  This is a very interesting position, considering all of the ado over 409A and stock option valuations for startup companies in the last few years. 


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