How do I get my personal property back from my business partners?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How do I get my personal property back from my business partners?

My husband and I are minority shareholders in a microbrewery. The majority shareholders 2 recently

removed my husband as a member/manager of the LLC. Then they fired both of us, changed the locks on the doors and refuse to return our personal items that we lent to the business. How can I get

our personal property back?

Asked on July 26, 2017 under Business Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You get your items back by suing for them. If the items lack particular sentimental value and/or are readily replaceable, it is procedurally simpler to sue for their value rather than for a court order requiring their return. (For various court procedural reasons, a lawsuit for money only is easier to bring than one seeking a court order that another person do something specific, like returning your belongings.) That said, you have the right to sue for an order for these items' return, but be aware that if you do so, you'd lose the option of suing in small claims court: small claims cannot issue those kinds of orders.
If you do so for the value, the case could be settled by the return of the items.
You should name your former LLC and the other members personally in the sit.
To address another issue: unless there was a forced sale clause in the operating agreement, under which a member could be compeled to sell his interest to the LLC and/or other members (and in which case you and your husband would have been paid the value of your interest in the business), the majority members could NOT remove you as members: your membership is a property interest (something you own) and person A cannot make you give up something you own  unless there was some contractual agreement (e.g. the LLC operating agreement) requiring this. They could remove you from management or authority without a buy-out, etc. provision, but could not actually take your member status/ownership away. You may wish to consult with an attorney about his issue.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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