Are member-owners held responsible for any debt or any other liabilities from the Co-op?

A:
Cooperative member/owners have limited liability of co-op debts and other liabilities. So in short, no, you cannot be sued individually for personal assets. The risk to an individual member in a co-op business is limited to the loss of their investment in their co-op and not more. 
This is outlined in Wisconsin Cooperative Statues: 185.37(2) -  Liability of directors and members
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/185.pdf

 

The Oshkosh Food Co-op's attorney also provided this specific language:
185.37  Liability of directors and members.

185.37(1)(1)  Directors who negligently or in bad faith vote for any distribution of assets contrary to this chapter or the articles are jointly and severally liable to the cooperative for the value of assets distributed in excess of the amount which could have been distributed without violating this chapter or the articles. Section 185.367 does not apply to the liability of directors under this subsection.

185.37(2) (2) Members, stockholders and patrons of a cooperative are neither obligated to pay, nor liable upon, any cooperative obligation, except that stockholders are liable to an amount equal to the par value of their shares for debts due an employee for not more than 6 months’ service to the cooperative.

History: 1985 a. 30 s. 42; 1987 a. 13.

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  • Elizabeth Redman
    published this page in FAQ's 2019-09-12 10:40:09 -0500

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