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Chancery Applies Privilege Rules in Business Negotiations Context


Twin Willows, LLC v. Pritzkur, C.A. No. 2020-0199-PWG (Del. Ch. Feb. 28, 2022)
This decision involved a Master in Chancery applying well-settled rules on the attorney-client privilege, common interest, and work product doctrines. Respondent Pritzkur was appointed to serve as partition trustee for owners and tasked with selling the property. Pritzkur negotiated a sale agreement that was ultimately assigned to Petitioner Twin Willows. The agreement was not fully performed, and Twin Willows moved to compel production of communications between Pritzkur and the owners. Pritzkur asserted both common interest privilege and attorney work product. More ›

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Chancery Finds it Lacks Discretion to Decline Jurisdiction Over a Case Where Jurisdiction Exists Under Section 111 of the DGCL


S’holders Rep. Serv. LLC v. DC Capital Partners Fund II, L.P., C.A. No. 2021-0465-KSJM (Del. Ch. Feb. 14, 2022)
While the Court of Chancery has exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over claims and remedies sounding in equity, Section 111 of the DGCL grants the Court concurrent, non-exclusive jurisdiction in cases involving the interpretation of certain corporate instruments—regardless of whether those claims or the relief sought are equitable in nature. In DC Capital Partners, the plaintiff elected to bring legal (rather than equitable) claims involving the interpretation of stock purchase agreements in the Court of Chancery pursuant to Section 111’s concurrent subject matter jurisdiction. The defendants argued that because the claims did not otherwise fall within the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction, and because Section 111 provides for concurrent rather than exclusive jurisdiction, the Court had the discretion to decline to hear the case. Specifically, the defendants noted that Section 111 provides that certain claims “may” be brought in the Court of Chancery and argued that this permissive language provided the Court with the discretion not to hear such claims. The Court rejected the defendants’ contention, finding that the discretion to bring a claim in the Court of Chancery pursuant to Section 111 belongs to the plaintiff, not the Court. Therefore, the Court held that once a plaintiff elects to bring a claim in Chancery authorized under Section 111, the Court lacks the discretion to decline to hear the case based on subject matter jurisdiction.

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Chancery Denies Indemnification to Director After Examining Settlement Agreement


Huret v. Mondobrain, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0208-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 27, 2022)
Under Section 145(c) of the DGCL, a director that has been successful on the merits or otherwise in defending a covered proceeding is entitled to indemnification. When determining success, Delaware law asks whether the indemnitee has avoided an adverse result, and generally does not look behind that result. Here, the plaintiff sought indemnification for derivative claims resolved by a settlement agreement, which also resolved claims brought by the plaintiff in French litigation. The Court examined the settlement agreement as a whole and found the plaintiff was not successful in the derivative action against him, and thus not entitled to indemnification. In settling the outstanding claims, the plaintiff did not admit guilt or make any settlement payment. However, he agreed to resign from the board, which was relief the stockholder originally sought, and he also agreed to release his own claims for money damages, which were in excess of the money damages sought for the derivative claims against him. 

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Chancery Resolves Section 225 Dispute and Declines to Invalidate Written Consents


Zhou v. Deng, C.A. No. 2021-0026-JRS (Del. Ch. Apr. 6, 2022)
When deciding a summary proceeding regarding a disputed corporate office under Section 225 of the DGCL, the Court of Chancery may consider whether an election, appointment, or removal was tainted by fraud, deceit, or breach of contract. This decision involves the Court considering such defenses to the defendants’ removal and replacement as directors. Here, the Court declined to invalidate the challenged written consents based on allegations of breaches of fiduciary duty, breaches of contract, and fraud. The Court, for instance, rejected the breach of contract defense concerning stock purchases because the breach was already remedied in another action by an award of damages and the sale contract had not been rescinded.

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Chancery Denies Petition to Appoint Custodian to Revive Abandoned Delaware Corporation for Use as Blank Check Company

Posted In Chancery, Custodians


In re Forum Mobile, C.A. No. 2020-0346-JTL (Del. Ch. Feb. 3, 2022)
In Forum Mobile, the Court of Chancery denied a petition to appoint a custodian pursuant to DGCL Section 226(a)(3). The petitioner sought to revive an abandoned and defunct Delaware corporation for use as a blank check company. Specifically, the petitioner sought to effectuate a reverse merger of the defunct company with a new business, allowing the new business to access public markets without implementing the formal IPO process. Holding that “the plain language of Section 226(b) does not contemplate that a custodian appointed under Section 226(a)(3) could revivify a corporation,” the Court denied the petition, reasoning that custodians appointed pursuant to Section 226(a)(3) are limited to “liquidating the affairs of the abandoned corporation and distributing its assets.”  More ›

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Chancery Upholds Claims Against Controller’s Family Member


In re Straight Path Communications Inc. Consol. Stockholder Litig., C.A. No. 2017-0486-SG (Del. Ch. Feb. 17, 2022)
This summary judgment decision arose out of a transaction involving the company Straight Path.  Straight Path’s controller had sold company assets to another company controlled by his family, IDT, for an allegedly inadequate price.  One of the assets was an indemnification claim against IDT, which used to be Straight Path’s parent company, for indemnification rights arising following Straight Path’s spin-off.  Straight Path thereafter was sold to Verizon, eliminating derivative standing for the company’s stockholders to challenge derivatively the asset sale to IDT.  Straight Path’s controller allegedly leveraged his control to wrest that indemnification claim from the company’s stockholders prior to the Verizon transaction.  Stockholders brought direct claims against the family members and an affiliated trust in this action.  Their claims previously survived dismissal, and in this decision their claims survived summary judgment.  More ›

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Chancery Upholds Claim for the Appointment of a Receiver


Zaslansky v. FZ Holdings, C.A. No. 2021-0168-KSJM (Del. Ch. Feb. 8, 2022)
This order denying a motion to dismiss addresses the circumstances in which the Court of Chancery may appoint a receiver for an allegedly insolvent corporation under 8 Del. C. § 291. In determining whether to grant a petition to appoint a receiver for an insolvent corporation, the Court must determine whether the corporation is insolvent and whether the appointment of a neutral third party is necessary to protect the insolvent corporation’s creditors or shareholders. Here, the company had negative income, the petitioners alleged that the company commingled personal debt with company debt, and that the company selectively repaid some allegedly affiliated creditors without paying others, all making it reasonably conceivable that the facts may support a receiver appointment.

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Court of Chancery Dismisses Thinly-Pleaded Breach of LPA Claim and Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Disclaimed by LPA and Foreclosed by Corwin


Ryan v. Buckeye Partners L.P. et al., C.A. No. 2021-0432-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 9, 2021)
Delaware is a notice pleading jurisdiction. But, even under this forgiving standard, the Court of Chancery Rule 8 still requires that the pleadings give defendants notice of the claims asserted against them. This recent decision from the Court of Chancery found that Plaintiff’s breach of a limited partnership agreement (“LPA”) claim failed to put Defendants on notice of even what provisions were allegedly breached. The Court also held that Plaintiff’s breach of fiduciary duty claims was deficient because the LPA disclaimed traditional fiduciary duties and, in all events, the claims were foreclosed by a fully informed vote under Corwin. More ›

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Chancery Stays Case So That Committee of Company May Decide Whether It Has Power to Interpret Alternate Dispute Resolution Provision of Agreement


Terrell v. Kiromic Biopharma, Inc., C. A. No. 2021-0248-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 20, 2022)
When an alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) provision is an arbitration provision, presumptively the Court may consider the scope of the provision absent “clear and unmistakable” evidence to the contrary. When an ADR provision is not an arbitration provision, however, the Court applies contract interpretation principles to determine who – as between the Court or the person or body specified in the provision – may construe its scope. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses All Claims in Stockholder Challenge to Cash-Out Merger Transaction


Harcum v. Lovoi, C.A. No. 2020-0398-PAF (Del. Ch. Jan. 3, 2022)
In Harcum, the Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed all claims brought in a stockholder suit alleging fiduciary breaches in connection with the $1 billion dollar acquisition of Roan Resources Inc. by Citizen Energy Operating, LLC. The Court found that the transaction was “cleansed” pursuant to Corwin v. KKR Financial Holdings LLC, 125 A.3d 304, 312 (Del. 2015), because the plaintiff failed to adequately plead that any alleged controllers were conflicted or that the transaction was not approved by an uncoerced, fully informed stockholder vote.  More ›

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Chancery Curtails Discovery in Appraisal Action Instituted as a Substitute for Books and Records Demand


Wei v. Zoox, Inc, C.A. No. 2020-1036-KSJM (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2022)
Often, stockholders who suspect corporate wrongdoing in connection with M&A transactions demand to inspect the company’s books and records under Section 220. But if, through no fault of the stockholder, the timing of a closing makes Section 220 relief more difficult to obtain, may the stockholder use Section 262, the appraisal statute, and its broader available discovery, to accomplish the same goal? In this case, the Court concludes that the answer is a qualified yes. That is, the stockholders are entitled to discovery in the appraisal proceeding. But if it appears the proceeding is just a means to investigate a potential class action for breach of fiduciary duties, the stockholder is entitled to discovery only to the limited extent it would have been available under Section 220, and not to the broader extent typically available under Section 262. 

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Chancery Rejects Argument that Omitted Information Prevents Corwin Dismissal


Galindo v. Stover, C.A. No. 2021-0031-SG (Del. Ch. Jan. 26, 2022)
If a majority of fully informed, uncoerced, disinterested stockholders vote to approve a merger not involving a conflicted controlling stockholder, then under the Corwin doctrine, the business judgment rule applies because the vote cleanses any breach of duty (except a claim for waste). In this decision, the Court of Chancery returns to what it means for the stockholder vote to be “informed.” More ›

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Delaware Uniform Arbitration Act Did Not Permit the Court of Chancery to Confirm or Vacate an Interim Partial Arbitration Award Because It Was Not Final


Astrum Fund I GP, LP v. Maracci, C.A. No. 2020-0919-PAF (Del. Ch. Jan. 27, 2022) Maracci v. Astrum Fund I GP, LP, C.A. No. 2021-0073-PAF (Del. Ch. Jan. 27, 2022)
A limited partnership agreement’s dispute resolution framework mandated arbitration for certain disputes but contained a Delaware forum selection provision for the resolution of damages. Limited partners initiated arbitration proceedings against the partnership and its general partner after a real estate transaction resulted in the loss of their entire investment. The arbitrator issued an interim partial award (“IPA”) after finding that the general partner had breached the agreement and breached the general partner’s duty of care. The arbitrator did not issue a final award because of the agreement’s requirement that a Delaware court determines damages. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Action for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction on Grounds that the Proposed Declaratory Judgments Would Provide an Adequate Remedy at Law


Qlarant, Inc. v. IP Commercialization Labs, LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0574-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 25, 2022)
Pursuant to an asset purchase agreement, the plaintiff buyer purchased assets from a seller and several of its affiliates. Despite another company asserting that it owned twenty percent of the seller, the agreement represented that the seller had only two individual shareholders. The company that claimed it was a shareholder filed an action in Maryland challenging the asset purchase transaction. In turn, the plaintiff buyer filed an action in the Court of Chancery seeking declaratory judgments that the company was not a shareholder of the seller at the time of the agreement and that the asset-purchase transaction had been validly consummated. The plaintiff also asked the Court to permanently enjoin the company from asserting it was a shareholder of the seller. More ›

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Chancery Rejects Challenge to Director’s Appointment and Dismisses Derivative Claims


Simons v. Brookfield Asset Mgmt., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0841-KSJM (Del. Ch. Jan. 21, 2022)
If a derivative plaintiff does not make a pre-suit demand on the board, then under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, the plaintiff must allege particularized facts demonstrating that demand would have been futile because a majority of the board was incapable of impartially considering a litigation demand.  More ›

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