United States: California Court of Appeal Clarifies Rights Of Dissenting Minority Shareholders Under California Corporation Code § 1312(b)

In Busse v. United Panam Fin. Corp., No. G046805, 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 11 (Cal. App. Jan. 8, 2014), the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, held that when parties to a buyout are under common control, dissenting minority shareholders have the right to set aside or rescind an invalid corporate buyout under Section 1312(b) of the California Corporations Code.  The Court also held that dissenting minority shareholders may not seek monetary damages under Section 1312(b).  This decision clarifies that Section 1312(b) acts as a limited exception to Section 1312(a) of the California Corporations Code by providing dissenting shareholders not only with the general remedy of appraisal, but also with the right to stop or rescind a buyout if the transaction is invalid.  Furthermore, Busse emphasizes that dissenting shareholders may not seek damages arising out of a buyout, even in common control situations.

Plaintiffs were minority shareholders of United Panam Financial Corporation ("Panam"), a publicly traded company that made subprime loans on used cars.  Defendant Guillermo Bron ("Bron") owned 38% of Panam's stock and generally had power over the corporation's affairs.  Bron allegedly developed a buyout scheme in which he and his partner would acquire Panam's stock at a bargain price.  In furtherance of this plan, Bron allegedly had Panam's directors set up an independent committee that valued the stock far below book value.  Later, Panam's shareholders approved the buyout by Bron's group, and the transaction was completed sometime after February 24, 2011.

Plaintiffs filed a class action for breach of fiduciary duty and sought either to rescind the buyout or to receive rescissory damages under Section 1312 of the California Corporations Code.  Section 1312 governs the rights of minority shareholders who dissent from corporate buyouts or mergers.  Section 1312(a) limits the rights of dissenting minority shareholders exclusively to an independent appraisal of their shares' value.  Consequently, under Section 1312(a), dissenting shareholders do not have a right at law or in equity to attack the validity of a buyout or merger.  Section 1312(b), however, provides that, if the parties to a merger or buyout are under common control:

[Section 1312(a)]does not apply to any shareholder . . . who has not demanded payment of cash for that shareholder's shares pursuant to [chapter 13]; but if the shareholder institutes any action to attack the validity of the reorganization or short-form merger or to have the reorganization or short-form merger set aside or rescinded, the shareholder shall not thereafter have any right to demand payment of cash for the shareholder's shares pursuant to [chapter 13].

The primary question presented in Busse was whether Section 1312(b) provided dissenting minority shareholders with the right to sue for rescissory damages (i.e., monetary damages).

The trial court sustained Bron's demurrer, reasoning that (1) plaintiffs' complaint did not sufficiently allege Bron's common control and Section 1312(b) was therefore inapplicable and (2) rescissory damages are not available under Section 1312(b).  Plaintiffs appealed.

The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's decision that plaintiffs failed to allege sufficient facts showing Bron held common control.  Common control — which occurs if one party is directly or indirectly controlled by, or under common control with, another party to a transaction — must exist for Section 1312(b) to apply.  The Court of Appeal determined Bron held at least indirect control over Panam because Bron possessed 38% of the voting power of Panam's shareholders, Bron was chairman of the board of directors, and Bron acknowledged he possessed substantial influence over the company's affairs.  Thus, the Court of Appeal concluded that plaintiffs sufficiently alleged facts showing Bron held common control.

Next, the Court of Appeal addressed whether under Section 1312(b) Panam's dissenting minority shareholders possessed the right to rescind the buyout or, in the alternative, to receive "rescissory damages."  The Court affirmed the trial court's judgment that under Section 1312(b) Panam's dissenting minority shareholders possessed the right to rescind or set aside the buyout.  Furthermore, the court affirmed that under Section 1312(b) Panam's dissenting shareholders were barred from seeking rescissory damages.

The Court of Appeal began its discussion of shareholders' rights under Section 1312(b) with a review of the legislative and judicial history of Section 1312.  The history of Section 1312 made clear that courts and the legislature intended to limit dissenting shareholders' remedies to an appraisal of their shares.  With this limitation in mind, the legislature recognized the potential for abuse in transactions where parties to a buyout are under common control.  Indeed, in these transactions the controlling party is, in effect, dealing with itself.  To protect minority shareholders from abuse in common control situations, the Court of Appeal determined Section 1312(b) provides a dissenting minority shareholder not only with an appraisal remedy, but also with the remedy of setting aside or rescinding a buyout.  However, the Court found this was the only additional remedy available to shareholders, and the courts and legislature never intended to provide minority shareholders with the right to seek monetary damages under Section 1312(b).

Thus, while the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment that plaintiffs were precluded from seeking "rescissory damages," it reversed the trial court's judgment that plaintiffs did not allege sufficient facts to demonstrate Bron's common control and found that Section 1312(b) applied.  Consequently, the Court of Appeal remanded for the resolution of whether the minority shareholders of Panam may rescind Bron's buyout under Section 1312(b).

Busse clarifies what remedies are available to dissenting minority shareholders under Section 1312(b).  Shareholders have the general right to an appraisal of their shares' value.  Additionally, Section 1312(b) gives dissenting shareholders the right to rescind or set aside a merger or buyout.  This additional remedy helps protect minority shareholders in common control situations, which are particularly susceptible to fraud and abuse.  However, minority shareholders are still barred from seeking monetary damages or, as stated in Busse, rescissory damages under Section 1312(b).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
29 Nov 2017, Webinar, Los Angeles, United States

This webinar will cover issues that California employers must face when managing a remote workforce of employees who “telecommute” for work. Due to the growing number of employees that work from home, California employers must know how to manage this new remote workforce in order to offer competitive career opportunities for a new generation of employees, while also being careful not to violate the complex California employment laws that govern these work arrangements.

30 Nov 2017, Conference, Brussels, Belgium

The European Competition and Regulatory Law Review (CoRe), the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) are delighted to invite you to our joint conference discussing some of today’s most frequently asked questions: Does competition law enforcement require an update for online markets?

4 Dec 2017, Conference, Virginia, United States

The Government Contract Management Symposium (GCMS) is held annually by the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) in the Washington, DC metro area. Formerly intended for those in federal sector, it has grown to provide training for professionals in both government and industry contracting.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.