The Commercial Division of the Queens County Supreme Court has ruled that Wigdor LLP client, Louis Bell, is a 10% owner of his long-time former employer, Stan Deutsch Associates (SDA), a market leader in the lighting design industry, and its subsidiary LMM Sales Corp.
Mr. Bell, who was a dedicated salesman that helped build the company during a career spanning more than 40 years, was terminated in 2013 at the age of 71, on the same day that his wife of 40 years, Michelle, passed away from a valiant fight with cancer. Mr. Bell alleges that he was unlawfully terminated because of his disability, including because he requested certain reasonable workplace accommodations necessitated by a neurological condition, and because of his age. In a parallel lawsuit, Mr. Bell alleged that he was a shareholder in SDA, LMM and other Deutsch-family owned lighting business by virtue of a contract he and SDA’s founder Stanley Deutsch signed in 1978 to make him a 10% shareholder in SDA and LMM. Despite the existence of this agreement, SDA refused to acknowledge that Mr. Bell was an owner after he sought to enforce his ownership rights, prompting Mr. Bell to file suit.
In a decision issued on January 18, 2017, the Honorable Marguerite A. Grays of the Queens County Commercial Division ruled in favor of Mr. Bell’s cross-motion for summary judgement, and held that that Mr. Bell is in fact a 10% owner of SDA and LMM. Indeed, Judge Grays found that there was no issue of material fact that could preclude a finding that Mr. Bell is an owner of SDA and LMM, leaving solely the issue of the value of Mr. Bell’s shareholdings unresolved.