Business partnerships usually start with the best of intentions and dreams of success. However, not all partnerships achieve those goals. It is common for the business to be damaged, perhaps irreparably, when one partner walks away to pursue other opportunities or simply leaves. If they do go, it can mean leaving the remaining partner or partners in a jam. Rather than feeling like someone left holding the bag, it may be a situation where they can sue their former partner who left.
The partner may be within their rights to leave the partnership, triggering a business dissolution outlined in the operating agreement or partnership agreement terms. There may also be applicable state laws if there is no controlling document.
Grounds for a lawsuit
Disputes involving abandonment by a business partner can take many forms:
- Breach of contract: Depending on the contract, the partner who leaves may breach their contract by abandoning the business or violating other contract terms like non-compete clauses or non-disclosure agreements.
- Breach of fiduciary duty: The remaining partners may also claim that the partner inadvertently or intentionally acted against the business’s best interests and for their own gain by leaving.
- Fraud: The remaining partner may argue that the partner misrepresented the company or themselves to clients and partners.
- Theft: They may have stolen money, company property or even intellectual property and business secrets.
Court may be the best option
Contracts may involve a predetermined approach for resolving a dispute, but litigating in court is often the best option when seeking financial damages or enforcing the terms of a contract they attempted to violate. It is also necessary when they engaged in criminal behavior.