Friday, April 30, 2010

Court reviews dismissal of action regarding a business's accounting practices

COLE BRYAN HOWELL, III, ET AL. v. CHERYL RYERKERK, ET AL. (Tenn. Ct. App. April 30, 2010)

Cole Bryan Howell, III ("the Grandson"), is the son of Cole Bryan Howell, Jr. ("the Father"), who in turn is the son of Margaret Lyons Howell ("the Grandmother"). The Grandson inherited stock in Howell Nurseries, Inc. ("the Nursery") through the Grandmother's will, which left a block of stock to the Father for life and then to the Father's children.

After the Father's death, the Grandson filed this stockholder's derivative action against all persons who acted as directors of the Nursery and the Nursery itself ("the Defendants"), claiming, in essence, that the directors had sold away all of the corporate assets, leaving him with a rather hollow inheritance.

The trial court held that the Grandson did not have standing to challenge any transactions that preceded the Father's death because it was only after his death that the Grandson became the owner of the stock. The trial court ordered an accounting as to all monies handled after the Father's death, which the Defendants filed with the court. Over the Grandson's objections, the trial court, on the Defendants' motion, approved the accounting and dismissed the case in its entirety. The Grandson appeals. We vacate the judgment of dismissal and remand for further proceedings.

Opinion may be found at: