Richards Layton & Finger
 

Judge Johnston Grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Statute of Limitations Grounds

February 16, 2017

In Fabian v. BGC Holdings, L.P., C.A. No. N14C-03-037-MMJ-CCLD, Judge Johnston granted defendants BGC Holdings, L.P. (“BGCH”) and BGC Partners, Inc.’s (“BGCP”) motion for summary judgment, and held that plaintiff Larry D. Fabian’s (“Fabian”) claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Fabian, a former BGCP employee, initiated the lawsuit on March 5, 2014 against the defendants, alleging that the defendants wrongfully forfeited the partnership units he had acquired in BGCH upon his termination of employment with BGCP to work for a competing entity.

In their motion for summary judgment the defendants argued that Fabian’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations because Fabian failed to file suit within three years of learning of a potential claim. Specifically, the defendants argued that Fabian had tried to pursue many of the same claims in an earlier-filed arbitration. In response, Fabian argued that his claim did not accrue until March 6, 2013, when the defendants wrongfully deprived him of his shares. Fabian also argued that the statute of limitations was tolled because the defendants led him to believe that BGCH was holding his shares even after he initiated arbitration.

Ultimately, the Court held that the action was barred by Delaware’s three-year statute of limitations, specifically holding that Fabian’s confusion about the status of his partnership units established notice of the potential claim.

Analysis: Judge Johnston’s decision in Fabian highlights how fast the CCLD can resolve matters. In Fabian, Judge Johnston heard oral argument on the motion for summary judgment on September 14, 2016 and issued her opinion on October 31, 2016—approximately one month later. This decision also highlights that in the absence of facts warranting any tolling, Delaware courts will apply the statute of limitations to resolve claims. In this case, the plaintiff was purportedly confused about the status of his shares, yet failed to pursue litigation in a timely manner. The Court found that the plaintiff’s confusion was not enough to toll the statute of limitations and applied Delaware’s statute of limitations to bar further litigation.

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