What rights do I have

I sold my company to a private equity firm almost 2 years ago. Prior to the sale
the now CEO and my then operations manager who arranged the sale gave me his
commitment to keep me on board in order to contribute to delivering a new version
of the product which I had created. This was the single reason that I sold
majority of my shares. Needless to say he reneged on his promise and now the
companys future is in great jeopardy due to lack of his ability to deliver a
viable product to the market. I am about to lose several million dollars because
of his decisions, which is about to bring down the company all together. He has
defamed and made up false stories to damage my reputation along the way.
Do I have the right to sue him on a personal basis? How about on company level?

Asked on May 21, 2016 under Business Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) If the commitment to keep you on board was in a written contract and has been violated, you can sue to enforce the contract and/or for compensation for its breach. But if there was no written contract, just an oral promise, it will be much more difficult to enforce. There are options--oral agreements or contracts can be enforced, though more often than not, not in the employment context, where "employment at will" is the rule. Alternately, you may be able to invoke "promissory estoppel," which allows a non-contractual promise to enforced if certain conditions of reliance and intent or met; or fraud, if he intentionally lied to you to get you to sell. But be warned that these are all much less sure and more complicated than enforcing a written contract, so be sure to consult with an attorney.
2) If he is making untrue statements of fact (not opinion; there is no suing over opinions) about you to other people and that us damaging your reputation, you could likely sue him personally for defamation. A personal injury or tort attorney could help you.


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