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Summaries and analysis of recent Delaware court decisions concerning business-related litigation.
Morris James Blogs
Showing 9 posts from July 2016.
The Delaware Supreme Court held in Corwin v. KKR Financial Holdings, that "when a transaction not subject to the entire fairness standard is approved by a fully-informed, uncoerced vote of the disinterested stockholders, the business judgment rule applies," even when a stockholder vote is statutorily required and the transaction is otherwise subject to the Revlon, 125 A.3d 304, 308-09 (Del. 2015),standard of review. More ›
Peter Ladig recently served as a guest on an episode of the podcast, Business Divorce Roundtable, hosted by Peter Mahler. The title of the podcast was, “Business Divorce, Delaware Style” and Mr. Ladig and Kurt Heyman discussed their experience with business divorce cases in the Delaware Court of Chancery and the developments in Delaware law affecting such cases.
Please click here to listen to the podcast.
In Angus v. Ajio, C.A. No. 11895-VCG (Del. Ch. May 13, 2016), the plaintiffs sought to enjoin an arbitration initiated against them as officers of MoGo Sport. In the arbitration, certain members of the company (who were defendants in the court proceeding) asserted claims for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and violations of the company's operating agreement, arising from the alleged misappropriation of an opportunity presented to the company. The plaintiffs argued, among other things, that the arbitration provision was too narrow to encompass the breach of fiduciary duty claims, as it covered "all disputes among members or former members over the provisions of [the operating agreement]." Applying the holdings in James & Jackson v. Willie Gary, C.A. No. 59 (March 14, 2006),and McLaughlin v. McCann, C.A. No. 3067-VCS (Feb. 21, 2008), the court found that, because the defendants' argument for arbitrability of the claim for breach of fiduciary duty was not frivolous, it should be decided by the arbitrator. Thus, the plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief was denied and the question of arbitrability of the breach of fiduciary claim was referred to arbitration. More ›
It is often said that Delaware limited liability companies are creatures of contract. Drafters of LLC agreements have the freedom to craft an LLC that best suits their goals. For instance, LLCs can be drafted to allow the members to manage the affairs of the LLC. LLCs can also be created so that members appoint a manager or managers to govern the LLC. Drafters can also mold an LLC to mimic a corporation by having the LLC's affairs governed by a board of directors. What practitioners must know is that when an LLC's governance features mimic another type of entity, a court analyzing a dispute involving that LLC will likely draw from existing precedent. So, where an LLC was created to parrot a corporation's governance structure, a court will likely look to corporate law for guidance in resolving a dispute. More ›
In what might be one of the most important decisions this year, the Court held that the tender of their shares by a majority of the stockholders invokes an “irrebuttable” presumption that the business judgment rule applies and, as a result, the complaint generally must be dismissed. This extends the Delaware Supreme Court’s Corwin decision to the tender offer context. While the tender offer aspect of this case will get the most notice, the concept of an “irrebuttable” business judgment rule may prove to be more important. For when that form of the business judgment rule applies, only facts demonstrating waste will let a complaint survive a motion to dismiss. Of course, waste is almost impossible to successfully allege under Delaware law.
What happens when a derivative claim is filed outside of Delaware and then is dismissed by that other court? Well even if the other complaint might have stood up in Delaware, the subsequently filed Delaware case will also be dismissed when the law of the state where the case was dismissed gives preclusive affect to such a dismissal. This result again shows that Delaware is respectful of other jurisdictions and that Delaware litigation may be threatened by bad filings elsewhere.
This decision deals with the always difficult world of what beta to use in a DCF valuation. The Court’s analysis is an exhaustive review of the alternative approaches and is particularly helpful in valuing a publicly traded company in some financial turmoil.
This detailed decision explains how to interpret multiple sources, such as bylaws and contracts, to determine any conditions to the right to have attorney fees advanced. Absent some provision that ties each source together, each acts as an independent right to advancement. Thus, a condition imposed by one source is not a condition to advancement under an independent source of that right.
Parties who at the signing of a merger agreement are eager to close may have a change of heart if intervening adverse market conditions reduce or eliminate the economic benefits.
Those changing market conditions often do not affect the buyer and seller equally. In that circumstance one party may wish to avoid, and the other to consummate, the transaction.
A Delaware court faced with a claim for specific performance on the one hand and a request on the other for declaratory judgment that a party is excused from its contractual obligation will apply traditional principles of contract interpretation and standards applicable to an award of equitable relief. That is exactly what the Delaware Court of Chancery did in denying the plaintiff's request for specific performance in Williams Companies v. Energy Transfer Equity, C.A. No. 12168-VCG (Del. Ch. June 24, 2016), a case with instructive lessons for practitioners regarding when the Court of Chancery will decline specifically to enforce a merger agreement. More ›