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Fighting for His Piece of the American Pie

Acker + Associates P.C. Newsletter


Fighting for His Piece of the American Pie:

A + A Obtains Jury Award for Green Cab Owner

Awelew Belete arrived in the United States in 1989 as a penniless refugee from Ethiopia. He and the other two current owners of Green Transportation Company immigrated together. They left behind their one-room house, which they shared with their respective families.

For his first seven years in the United States, Awelew worked sweeping floors in a warehouse in Portland. He worked 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week, so that he could earn money to support his family and himself. With his earnings, Awelew purchased a house. He also invested with several others in a taxi business that became known as Green Cab.

By 2007, Awelew was one of the three remaining owners of Green Cab. Over the years, Awelew grew concerned with and disputed the aggressive business decisions made by the other two members. He complained when company loans were obtained without his approval.

The other two members demanded that Awelew pledge his house as security for company refinancing purposes. Awelew requested copies of company financial records. Tensions flared between Awelew and the other two members.

The dispute culminated with a decision by the other two members, on December 23, 2013, to expel Awelew from the company. They claimed that Awelew’s conduct justified his expulsion from the company.

On behalf of Awelew, Acker + Associates filed suit in early 2014, claiming wrongful expulsion. Over a year later, and after a three-day jury trial, the jury awarded judgment in Awelew’s favor.

The jury determined that the expulsion of Awelew and the borrowing of money constituted a breach of the company’s operating agreement and the fiduciary duties owed to Awelew, and awarded him approximately a quarter of a million dollars. After the jury rendered its verdict, the judge gave Awelew a choice between receiving the jury’s monetary award or being deemed a one-third owner. Awelew selected the latter option, and the judge granted Awelew’s request for a declaration that he is still an owner of the company.

In a heartwarming victory, Acker + Associates helped Awelew reclaim his piece of the American pie.