A jury awarded a North Texas physician $7.8 million after finding his business partner locked him out of their jointly owned stem cell therapy clinic in 2018.
Wade McKenna, an orthopedic surgeon and CEO of McKenna Orthopedics and Biologics, sued his former partner Neil Riordan for conspiring to ax him from his ownership stake in the Southlake-based Riordan-McKenna Institute and transfer the companys assets to another clinic Riordan owned.
Riordan, a scientist specializing in stem-cell research, ran the Riordan Medical Institute at the same location as the Riordan-McKenna Institute following the schism, using the same initials as the original clinic.
Jurors in a Tarrant County District Court found that McKenna wasnt fairly compensated for the assets transferred to the Riordan Medical Institute or for the revenue generated at the competing business.
You see business splits quite a bit, but usually not something this egregious, said Derrick Boyd, McKennas lead trial lawyer from Boyd Powers & Williamson.
Riordan said he was disappointed in the decision and would be pursuing post-trial options.
We disagree mightily with the result in the trial and plan to present appropriate post-trial motions to the court and, if necessary, to appeal this unjust ruling result to the court of appeals, Riordan said.
McKennas dismissal from the Riordan-McKenna Institute caught the doctor off guard, Boyd said. On May 16, 2018, Riordans lawyer delivered McKenna a letter stating that Riordan wished to sever their business partnership.
The current board, which consists of Dr. Riordan and David Murfin, has determined that it is in the best interest of RMI to terminate your affiliation with RMI in all regards including, but not limited to, your role as medical director, the letter said. As such, Dr. Riordan requests that you turn in your keys to the RMI office.
The letter gave two options for the future of the company: a dissolution or a buyout. Under the buyout, Riordan offered to buy McKennas 45% stake in the company for $500,000.
Boyd said McKenna was denied access to company financial records when he questioned the suggested buyout compensation, inspiring McKenna to sue his former partner.
In the lawsuit that was decided Aug. 31, jurors said Riordan failed to comply with his fiduciary duty to the company and that McKenna, as a member of the institute, had a right to assert such a claim.
Under the decision, McKenna was awarded damages for his stake in the company, improper financial distributions to Riordan-owned entities and a 45% share of amounts improperly received by Riordan or Riordan-owned entities from operations at RMI after May 16, 2018.
The verdict also included $5 million in punitive damages, Boyd said.
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