Apparently, the HSR School trained nurse anesthetists was owned and run by AANH a Connecticut “professional corporation.” The plaintiff was in the HSR School for about six months before she was dismissed, she claimed, because of " gender discrimination and retaliation for reporting a staff member’s inappropriate sexual conduct." Id. The plaintiff sought to join YNHH because that entity took over running an anesthesia school that had been, in some form, the HSR school.
The successor liability part is rather interesting, though largely devoid of facts from the transaction. The court ultimately concludes that even though YNHH resumed a similar school, it was not a successor entity and could not be joined.
A challenging part about the case is that entities are described, but often not clearly and with conflicting entity-type language. For example, although AANH was a "professional corporation," the court explained that " [t]he AANH anesthesiologists, who were also partners in AANH, were responsible for deciding how the HSR School would operate." Id. at *2. One of the doctors was also referred to as an "ownership partner in AANH." Id. at *3. I suspect that anesthesiologists, like lawyers, traditionally created firms that were partnerships, so the principals often call themselves "partners," regardless of their actual entity type. Still, it would be nice for courts to clarify the actual roles of those involved.
Furthermore, in describing the HSR School, the court states,
There is no evidence that the HSR School had an existence that was independent of AANH. In fact, the HSR School was going to cease operating due to the fact that AANH was going to cease operating. The HSR School was not a limited liability corporation (“LLC”), private corporation (“P.C.”), or other legal entity registered with the Connecticut Secretary of State. (Tr. 141-142). There is no evidence that the HSR School had its own assets, bank account, or tax identification number. There is no evidence that the HSR School itself (as opposed to AANH) ever paid anyone for rendering services to the HSR School. There is no evidence that anyone other than AANH had operated the HSR School. Consequently, the Court finds that the predecessor in interest, for the purpose of assessing successor liability, is AANH.
Id. at *6. Ultimately, it appears the court has determined this was some version of an asset purchase (even though neither party provided a copy of the asset purchase agreement), so the liability stayed with AANH. This appears to be correct, but it's hard to know without that document.
And it is hard to know what the obligations are when additional relevant possible parties are. The court further determined that the potential successor entities, "YNHH and Yale University are two separate corporate entities with separate governance structures." Except there is no statement as to what types of entities they are, where they were formed, or anything else other than a reference to testimony from a witness who said YNHH was a separate entity from Yale University. It would seem to me that some of the related documentation would be valuable, but the court has spoken.
And fair enough. But I have to correct this: "The HSR School was not a limited liability corporation company (“LLC”), private professional corporation (“P.C.”), or other legal entity."