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Canam Steel Corp. v. Mayo

August 27, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


Plaintiff Canam Steel ("Plaintiff") initiated this action against Defendants John Mayo ("Mayo"), Cadela Steel, Inc. ("Cadela"), JD2, Inc. ("JD2"), and The Spectrus Group, Inc. ("Spectrus"). Subsequently, JD2 filed a Cross-Complaint against Plaintiff for breach of fiduciary duty. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss that Cross-Complaint. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion to dismiss is granted.*fn1


In 1993, Mayo formed JD2, a closely-held corporation, to compete in the steel manufacturing and construction industry. In January of 2002, Mayo approached Plaintiff, a supplier of steel products, regarding investing in JD2. Mayo made certain financial and informational disclosures to Plaintiff, and the parties entered into two written agreements, a Stock Purchase Agreement and an Incorporated Stockholders Agreement ("Stockholders Agreement").

Pursuant to these agreements, and in reliance on further disclosures of financial and other information, Plaintiff invested a total of $2.85 million in JD2, becoming holder of twenty-five percent of the outstanding shares of JD2 common stock, which, as of December 2007, was worth approximately $10 million. Mayo owns the remaining seventy-five percent of the outstanding common stock shares.

Pursuant to the Stockholders Agreement, the JD2 shareholders elected one director to the Board and Mayo appointed the remaining directors. Plaintiff appointed Sam Blatchford ("Blatchford") to the board of directors in early 2002, and he has served continuously in that position since then.

Mayo subsequently formed Spectrus to pursue business opportunities concerning certain proprietary technology. Spectrus eventually became a wholly-owned subsidiary of JD2.

From the time the Directors were first elected to the Board, until December of 2007, the Board held only one meeting, in approximately February 2005. According to Plaintiff, after that meeting, to the exclusion of Plaintiff, Mayo alone began to control the corporation. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that Mayo failed to adhere to corporate formalities by, for example, failing to convene an annual shareholders' meeting. Mayo also allegedly failed to conduct JD2's business and financial affairs with the requisite transparency.

Plaintiff further alleges that Mayo breached contractual obligations to Plaintiff by: 1) failing to call meetings of the Board and instead directing all financial and business matters independently; 2) failing to call any shareholders' meetings and making decisions pertaining to compensation and dividends without shareholder input; 3) failing to prepare and obtain approval of annual budgets; 4) failing to obtain unanimous written consent of shareholders despite contractual requirements; and 5) failing to provide audited financial statements.

Plaintiff also contends that Mayo engaged in "gross mismanagement and self-dealing" by: 1) paying himself and other officers excessive compensation; 2) improperly sharing equipment, office space, and personnel with, as well as improperly loaning funds to, Cadela, a recently formed business that Mayo established as a steel fabrication concern; 3) improperly leasing property from an entity owned in equal shares by Mayo and another JD2 officer; 4) arranging to loan funds from JD2 to himself for the purchase of vacation property; and 5) using JD2 funds for personal items and expenses, such as the purchase of two vehicles.

In response, JD2 contends that Plaintiff's appointed director on the Board, Blatchford, failed to present steel project opportunities to JD2 and instead took those opportunities for Plaintiff. JD2 further alleges that when it learned Blatchford was taking steel project opportunities for Plaintiff, Blatchford apologized and promised JD2 would be offered all projects in and around California before Plaintiff would take any of those opportunities for itself.

On March 11, 2009, Plaintiff filed an action asserting Breach of the Stock Purchase Agreement, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, and requesting establishment of a Constructive or Resulting Trust, an Accounting, and Equitable Relief for Shareholder Oppression.

On June 15, 2009, JD2 filed a Cross-Complaint for damages asserting Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Plaintiff has now moved to ...

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