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Make Sure To Read the Limited Partnership Agreement Before You Sign: Limited Partnership and Fiduciary Duties Under Delaware Law (Part III)

September 1, 2016

In Dieckman v. Regency GP LP,[1] the court noted that limited partnerships are governed by their partnership agreements and by Delaware’s limited partnership law.  As the court emphasized, the explicit policy of the law is “to give maximum effect to the principle of freedom of contract and to the enforceability of partnership agreements.”  In other words, in Delaware, as in many other states, courts would generally respect what the partners agree to in a limited partnership agreement, including expansion or restriction of fiduciary duties under the partnership agreement.  … Read the rest

Make Sure To Read the Limited Partnership Agreement Before You Sign: Limited Partnership and Fiduciary Duties Under Delaware Law (Part II)

August 25, 2016

Dieckman v. Regency GP LP[1] involved the acquisition of Regency Energy Partners LP (“Regency”) by an affiliated entity in a merger.  Dieckman was a former unitholder of Regency.  Dieckman claimed that Regency’s general partner (“GP”) favored the interests of its affiliates in agreeing to an unfair merger price and, by doing so, breached the limited partnership agreement (“LP agreement”).  Specifically, the LP agreement, which governs GP’s relationship with Regency’s limited partners, provided that whenever GP takes action in its capacity as GP, it must do so in good faith, meaning it “must believe that the determination or other action is in the best interests of the Partnership.”  Interestingly, the LP agreement also contained several “safe harbors” designed to shield GP from claims based on a breach of the LP agreement “or of any duty stated or implied by law or equity” due to conflicts of interest in the following situations:

(i) approval by a majority of the members of the conflicts committee; or

(ii) approval by the vote of a majority of the common units (excluding common units owned by GP and its affiliates).… Read the rest

Make Sure To Read the Limited Partnership Agreement Before You Sign: Limited Partnership and Fiduciary Duties Under Delaware Law (Part I)

August 18, 2016

In our previous blog series on Comparison of LLC Statutes, we talked about fiduciary duties in the context of a limited liability company (LLC).  Fiduciary duty is a legal duty to act solely in another person’s interests.  It generally encompasses the duty of care (duty to act in good faith and exercise reasonable care in carrying out obligations to the company) and the duty of loyalty (duty to put the best interests of your company above any personal advantages).  We mentioned that some states, including Delaware, Texas, and New York, allow an LLC agreement to expand, restrict, or even eliminate a manager’s or a member’s fiduciary duty within limits.  … Read the rest

Can a Partner Be Held Liable for a Partnership Debt in Texas? (Part III)

June 9, 2016

In our previous post, Can a Partner Be Held Liable for a Partnership Debt in Texas?, we discussed the Texas Supreme Court’s holding in American Star Energy and Minerals Corporation v. Stowers[1] that a creditor cannot sue individual partners to satisfy a partnership debt until a judgment is passed against the partnership and goes unsatisfied for 90 days.  There is another part of the story.  The partners argued that the court’s holding imposed “automatic” liability– basically claiming that the court undermined their due process rights on grounds that they should have been named and served in the lawsuit against the partnership so that they would be on notice of their potential liability and have an opportunity to contest it.… Read the rest

Can a Partner Be Held Liable for a Partnership Debt in Texas? (Part II)

June 2, 2016

In American Star Energy and Minerals Corporation v. Stowers,[1] four partners formed a general partnership called S&J Investments (“S&J”) to invest in oil and gas properties.  S&J contracted with  American Star Energy and Minerals Corporation (“American”) to operate these properties.  Subsequently, American sued S&J for breach of contract, which resulted in a final judgment in the amount of $227,884.46 against S&J in 2008.  It turned out that S&J was undercapitalized and unable to satisfy the judgment debt, so in 2010, American brought another action seeking a judgment against the partners individually. … Read the rest

Can a Partner Be Held Liable for a Partnership Debt in Texas? (Part II)

May 26, 2016

In American Star Energy and Minerals Corporation v. Stowers,[1] four partners formed a general partnership called S&J Investments (“S&J”) to invest in oil and gas properties.  S&J contracted with  American Star Energy and Minerals Corporation (“American”) to operate these properties.  Subsequently, American sued S&J for breach of contract, which resulted in a final judgment in the amount of $227,884.46 against S&J in 2008.  It turned out that S&J was undercapitalized and unable to satisfy the judgment debt, so in 2010, American brought another action seeking a judgment against the partners individually. … Read the rest

Can a Partner Be Held Liable for a Partnership Debt in Texas? (Part I)

May 19, 2016

In our previous blog series on general partnership, we talked about what general partnership is and why it is important for business owners to know about it.  We wrote that, despite the advent of limited liability companies (LLCs), business owners frequently form a general partnership, oftentimes without even realizing it.  Generally speaking, partners in a general partnership are jointly and severally liable, and each partner is personally and individually liable for the entire amount of all partnership obligations.  For example, if your partnership owes an amount to a supplier, you, along with the other individual partner(s), would be personally liable if the partnership fails to pay the supplier– whether you intended to be a partner or whether you knew you were exposed to such liability.… Read the rest

All postings are intended to be planning tools to familiarize readers with some of the high-level issues discussed therein. No posting is intended to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your transaction planners including attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity.