WENDELL P. BAUGH, III ET AL. v. HERMAN NOVAK ET AL. (Tenn. May 20, 2011)
This appeal raises the issue of whether a contract for the sale of an interest in a corporation and related indemnity agreements are unenforceable because they are contrary to public policy.
The sellers of the corporate interest filed suit against the purchasers in the Chancery Court for Williamson County seeking damages for the purchasers' alleged breach of their indemnity agreement. The purchasers counterclaimed asserting, among other things, that the sellers had fraudulently induced them to purchase the interest in the corporation.
Following a bench trial, the trial court awarded a $201,715.50 judgment to the sellers and dismissed the purchasers' counterclaim. On appeal, the Court of Appeals, on its own motion, invalidated the stock purchase agreement and the related indemnity agreements on the ground that they were contrary to the public policy reflected in Tenn. Code Ann. section 48-16-208 (2002). Baugh v. Novak, No. M2008-02438-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 2474714 (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 13, 2009).
We granted the sellers' Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application for permission to appeal and now find that the Court of Appeals erred by finding that the agreements at issue in this case were contrary to public policy. We have also determined that the evidence fully supports the trial court's decision to dismiss the purchasers' counterclaim for fraudulent inducement.
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