Parents dream their children will continue their work, live in harmony and close to one another, and continuing the bonds of fraternity to another generation. Sometimes they try to force this process with arrangements for their assets that entangle the children.
A family partnership formed in the 1970s, but unworkable after the death of the first parent, found its way to a tortured, but just, solution in a Nebraska District Court in September. After six and one-half years of litigation among family members and ten months of involvement by Domina Law Group pc llo, the case was tried, decided, and nearly finished.
A valuable assemblage of land, which the surviving parent and one child wanted to keep together, survives. Two children, owning about 22% of the venture, who wanted all assets sold at public auction will get their money but not their auction.
The District Court determined the withdrawing partners disassociated from their partnership and did so wrongful when they failed to pay rent in 2004. The court ordered the partnership may continue. It directed the mother and son, who want to continue, may buy out the 22% interest—something they have wanted to do for years.
The final step will be a simple valuation question, which the court will decide if the plaintiffs do not accept a reasonable offer from the defense. Then it will be over.
A pivotal part of the decision in this unfortunate family controversy was recognizing that the withdrawing plaintiffs’ plan would cause dramatic adverse tax consequences for the mother and son who wish to remain in the family business. “We understood that an expert witness would be able to identify this issue and clarify what could happen to innocent people if selfishness instead of reason prevailed,” David Domina commented. He continued, “Jason Bottlinger and I understood the human dynamics. We tried to settle the case and made an offer in line with the court’s decision. It was rejected with no counter-offer and no willingness to talk.”
Bottlinger said, “Completion of the case, through the final pricing step—which we think will be mechanical—should come by the end of November.”