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Partnership disputes cause Newark Bears to hibernate

Partnership disputes in Newark and elsewhere in New Jersey can sometimes feel like a bad divorce. A venture that starts out so full of hope and promise may sometimes become a battle ground of accusations and mistrust. Issues become more entangled when the arrangement was created without a properly drawn up written partnership agreement.

Once a party reaches the decision that it is no longer possible to work together towards a common goal, it is best to explore ways of amicably dissolving the business arrangement. Failing that, litigation of the partnership disputes may be necessary.

The Newark Bears, our city's minor league baseball team, started in the early 1930's as a farm club to the New York Yankees. It flourished for years, then moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, and later disbanded.

In 1999 the Newark Bears were reborn under the direction of former Yankees catcher Rick Cerrone. Things started out with a bang but by 2008 the Bears were floundering in bankruptcy court. Another partnership group took over but lasted only a short time.

The following year the team was run by the founder of the Atlantic League in which the Bears play, lasting only one season. One of the people affiliated with the team in a variety of capacities for years then convinced the team doctor and his wife to buy the Bears. And that is where the trouble started.

The deal happened so quickly the doctor and this individual had no written operating agreement. In a matter of months it became apparent that the doctor and his wife were not going to be able to go forward with the man who suggested the arrangement in the first place.

The issues could not be resolved, and the parties ended up in litigation. Ultimately, the doctor and his wife bought full control of the team.

Dissolving a partnership is not easy when the parties have different goals and expectations. The law in New Jersey can be complicated and confusing to people more focused on growing their business than resolving partnership disputes. An attorney knowledgeable in partnerships and business litigation may be of help.

Source: NJ, "Newark Bears: A tale of a sidetracked baseball franchise," Amy Brittain, July 17, 2011

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