Court of Appeal affirms trial court ruling approving expert valuation and ending long-standing dispute between co-founders

On August 19, 2021, the 2nd District Court of Appeal affirmed a ruling in favor of our client Luma Pictures, Inc. (“Luma”) approving an expert valuation for the buyout of a co-founder of Luma.

In October 2016, co-founder Betuel filed a complaint against Luma for claims related to Luma terminating his employment and to the operations of the company. After BSNK was able to defeat all but one claim in summary judgment, the parties entered into a stipulated settlement. The settlement provided for the trial court to retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement under CCP § 664.6. The settlement also provided that Luma would purchase Betuel’s shares in Luma after an independent appraiser determined their fair market value.

Apparently unhappy with the price and feeling seller’s remorse, Betuel challenged the valuation report of the court appointed valuator, Houlihan Lokey.  The trial court at Luma’s request, adopted the report.  Betuel appealed claiming that the trial court lacked jurisdiction in CCP Section 664.6 and that the court had been unfaithful to the parties’ settlement agreement. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling in all respect, requiring Betuel to sell his interest in Luma at the price set by the independent valuators.

The cite to the full opinion is Jonathan Betuel v. Luma Pictures, Inc., (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 19, 2021, No. B297030) 2021 WL 3673413.