Most folks associate beer with pleasure. Beer brings the happy, and many craft brewers will tell you they went into business for that very reason. But an investor in a Bushwick, Brooklyn beer brewing company and taproom startup was anything but happy after his co-members began taking steps to dilute his membership interest in the limited liability company, resulting in fast and furious litigation and an immediate injunction motion to halt the alleged “freeze out.”
According to his complaint, Peter Lengyel-Fushimi (“Peter”) was a molecular biologist by training who decided to pursue his passion for craft beer making and “dedicate his life to beer.” Peter “committed himself to his new goal of opening a brewery,” took a series of apprenticeships in local breweries to learn the trade, and ultimately partnered with Anthony Bellis (“Anthony”) and Zachary Kinney (“Zachary”) to form Kings County Brewers Collective, LLC (the “Brewery”).
In 2014, Peter, Anthony, and Zachary entered into an Operating and Subscription Agreement, according to which each became a manager and 25.33% “Class A” membership interest holder, collectively owning 76% of the Brewery. The remaining 24% membership interests were sold to investors denominated “Class B” and “Class C” interests, the Class B member having limited voting rights, and the Class C members no voting rights only an economic interest. Peter held the title of Head of Beer Production / Operating Manager.
Important for his later injunction application, a standard merger and no-oral-modification provision in Section 10.1 of the Operating Agreement provided, “This agreement constitutes the whole and entire agreement of the parties with respect to the subject matter of this agreement, and it shall not be modified or amended in any respect except by a written instrument executed by all of the Members.”