Baker v. Allen

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation292 Mass. 169,197 N.E. 521
PartiesBAKER et al. v. ALLEN et al.
Decision Date23 September 1935

292 Mass. 169
197 N.E. 521

BAKER et al.
ALLEN et al.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk.

Sept. 23, 1935.

Suit in equity by William L. Baker and others against William R. Allen and others wherein the National Boston-Montana Mines Company intervened. From a final decree dismissing the bill, plaintiffs appeal.


[197 N.E. 522]

Appeal from [292 Mass. 169]Supreme Judicial Court, Suffolk County.

G. H. Lucey, F. W. Campbell and A. L. Mekelburg, all of Boston, for plaintiffs.

J. P. Wright and R. G. Wellings, both of Boston, for defendants Keniston and others.

D. M. Hill and D. M. Hill, Jr., both of Boston, for defendants Allen and others.

J. W. Murdock, of Brockton, and F. D. Nichols, of Boston, for defendant National Montana Mines Co.

RUGG, Chief Justice.

This is a suit by minority stockholders of the Boston-Montana Mines Company (hereafter called the corporation), a business corporation organized under the [292 Mass. 170]laws of Montana and having a usual place of business at Boston within this Commonwealth, in behalf of themselves and other stockholders who may become parties, for the benefit of the corporation, against its directors, to recover for damages sustained by the corporation in consequence of breaches of their fiduciary duties by the directors. The corporation and its two subsidiaries are joined as defendants. The directors are charged by the allegations of the bill with causing damage to the corporation by culpable neglect, by mismanagement of its business and failure to exercise ordinary intelligence in carrying it on, by failure to safeguard its rights, by wasting corporate assets, by illegal and ultra vires issues of capital stock, by permitting payment of excessive salaries to three defendants, by the payment of money under the guise of expenses when such expenses were not incurred or not properly incurred, by issuing false and misleading reports as to the condition of the corporation, by neglecting to make fair reports of the condition of the corporation, by disbursing money without proper vouchers, by refusing to allow the plaintiffs to examine the list of stockholders and the books of account and records until compelled to do so by proceedings in mandamus, by permitting the defendant Allen as president to handle the monies of the corporation as if they were his own, to deposit them in his own name and to use them for his own purposes, and by subjecting the real estate of the corporation and its subsidiaries to loss and peril of complete loss by failure to provide for the payment of taxes. These allegations are summarized in paragraph 23 of the bill, with respect to the directors, as ‘their failure to perform and their dereliction in performance of their fiduciary duties' as directors of the corporation. There are allegations as to the necessity for stockholders to institute the suit.

The bill was filed October 7, 1932. The defendants on October 19, 1933, were permitted to file an amendment to their answer previously filed. This amendment was in effect a plea setting up that, after consideration of a plan outlining the financial difficulties of the corporation and [292 Mass. 171]means for solving them, pursuant to appropriate votes duly adopted by its directors on November 9, 1932, and by its stockholders on November 30, 1932, the corporation on June 1, 1933, by deeds and

[197 N.E. 523]

instruments of transfer duly executed, sold and conveyed to the National Boston Montana Mines Company, a corporation organized under the laws of Montana, ‘all and singular the real, personal and mixed property of the defendant Boston-Montana Mines Company,’ and that thereby the cause of action set forth in the plaintiffs' bill ‘has now vested in the National Boston Montana Mines Company,’ and that the latter corporation or its officers and stockholders alone have the right further to prosecute that suit. That corporation was permitted to intervene and to file an answer.

This amendment rightly was allowed. Twombly v. Selectmen of Billerica, 262 Mass. 214, 216, 159 N. E. 630. There was set up in it matter in the nature of and proper for a plea. Eastman Marble Co. v. Vermont Marble Co., 236 Mass. 138, 148, 128 N. E. 177;Berenson v. French, 262 Mass. 247, 255, 159 N. E. 909;Reilly v. Selectmen of Blackstone, 266 Mass. 503, 507, 165 N. E. 660. The case was then referred to a master to hear the evidence and to determine the facts raised in the amendment to the answer, leaving the matter of liability under the bill to be determined after the disposition of the issues raised by the amendment to the answer.

The master, as shown by his report, found that the allegations of fact set forth in the amendment to the answer were established. He found, also, that the by-laws of the corporation in conformity to the laws of Montana provided that the directors should have the power to vote to transfer all the assets of the corporation. He found that the stockholders voted in favor of such transfer. The conveyance by the corporation to the National Boston Montana Mines Company (hereafter called the new corporation) described the various properties in great detail but did not purport to convey by description or reference any rights which the corporation may have had in the present litigation, but did convey ‘all and singular the real, personal and mixed property of Boston-Montana Mines Company, including [292 Mass. 172]particularly and without restricting the generality of the foregoing, the following described property, namely:’ An interlocutory decree from which no appeal was taken confirmed the master's report. The facts stated therein must be accepted as...

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27 cases
  • Peterson v. Hopson
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 17 de setembro de 1940 a part of the assets in which a stockholder has an indivisible interest transferable by a transfer of his certificate (Baker v. Allen, 292 Mass. 169, 173, 197 N.E. 521;Hanna v. Lyon, 179 N.Y. 107, 71 N.E. 778) and that it is immaterial whether the stockholder who seeks to vindicate the r......
  • Spiegel v. Beacon Participations, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 14 de junho de 1937
    ...Mass. 434, 438, 195 N.E. 769; (Mass.Adv.Sh.[1935] 1265, 1268.)Commissioner of Banks v. Harrigan (Mass.) 197 N.E. 92;Baker v. Allen (Mass.) 197 N.E. 521; Dovey v. Cory, [1901] A.C. 477, 488; In re City Equitable Fire Ins. Co., Ltd., [1925] Ch. 407, 426–430. An individual director cannot be h......
  • In re Access Cardiosystems, Inc., Bankruptcy No. 05-40809-HJB.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. First Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Massachusetts
    • 17 de abril de 2009
    ...and a debtor-in-possession may bring an adversary proceeding to prosecute any such violation.113 Mi-Lor, 348 F.3d at 300; Baker v. Allen, 292 Mass. 169, 197 N.E. 521, 524 In the context of bankruptcy, it is often the case that a failed corporation (and its shareholders) cast about for someo......
  • Demoulas v. Demoulas Super Markets, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • 13 de março de 1997
    ...may bring action at law against directors, seeking damages for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty); Baker v. Allen, 292 Mass. 169, 173, 197 N.E. 521 (1935) (action against directors for waste, seeking damages and restitution, might be brought by a corporation at law or in equit......
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