Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Classic partnership dispute leads to business litigation filing

In the world of online startups, it is not uncommon to see a newly emerging company going through ownership upheavals. These disputes often go far enough to become lawsuits in the courts, including sometimes here in Louisiana. Where the plaintiff presents substantial evidence supporting its claim, the business litigation case most often settles prior to trial. This is generally due to the prevailing desire to avoid risking a massive jury verdict or court judgment in what could well be a losing case.  

One topical issue that currently generates a good deal of controversy is the advent of autonomous cars. These vehicles can do things like drive, maneuver, go through a drive-in, pursue a destination and park all on their own. The concept is not entirely new: cruise control and other primitive techniques have been around for decades. Currently, however, rapid technological advances provide far more autonomy for the vehicle. In addition, Google and others have come out with totally autonomous vehicles that do not call for the presence of a human driver at all.

One hot app relating to automobile autonomy is known as Cruise, a driving startup just purchased for $1 billion by General Motors. The seller of the program, as it turns out, was allegedly not the sole player in creating and developing the product. The seller had a partner who was not a party to the sale, according to the complaint filed by the missing partner. In the business litigation lawsuit, Jeremy Guillory presents apparently convincing evidence, including written applications wherein both he and Kyle Vogt are listed as co-owners of Cruise.

The plaintiff also references a written agreement signed by both men wherein they agreed to a "50/50" split as co-founders. The plaintiff's position is strengthened also by reports that the defendant has offered $1.5 million to settle the matter. However, Guillory reportedly rejected the offer, perhaps because of the massive chasm that separates Vogt's seemingly measly offer and the $1billion sale price that he has apparently already received. If this business litigation matter was being litigated here in Louisiana, the facts reported would tend to indicate a strong case for the plaintiff.  

Source: Fortune, "Alleged Cruise Co-Founder Fires Back In Legal Dispute", Kia Kokalitcheva, April 14, 2016

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