Showing 5 posts from December 2022.
Buzzfeed v. Anderson, C.A. No. 2022-0357-MTZ (Del. Ch. Oct. 28, 2022)
In 2021, Buzzfeed engaged in a SPAC transaction wherein its stock was converted into stock in Buzzfeed’s post-SPAC corporate form. An IPO followed. In connection with the IPO, former employees of the pre-transaction Buzzfeed (“Old Buzzfeed”) who had received shares in the post-transaction Buzzfeed (“New Buzzfeed”), filed mass arbitrations against New Buzzfeed, certain officers and directors, and the IPO transfer agent. These former employees and New Buzzfeed shareholders alleged that, because a different class of stock was offered in the IPO than the class of stock that they held, they were unable to participate in the IPO, suffering $9 million in damages. In response, New Buzzfeed, certain officers and directors, and the IPO transfer agent sued in the Court of Chancery seeking: (1) to enjoin the arbitrations, (2) a declaration that they were not bound by arbitration provisions in employment agreements entered into with Old Buzzfeed, and (3) a declaration that the former employees were obligated to comply with a forum selection clause in New Buzzfeed’s charter and bring their claims in the Court of Chancery. The plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on their claims; the former employees moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter and personal jurisdiction. More ›
Superior Court Finds that Non-Recourse Provision Does Not Bar Fraud Claims Against Non-Seller Defendants
Amerimark Interactive LLC v. Amerimark Holdings, C.A. No. N21C-12-175 MMJ CCLD (Del. Super. Nov. 3, 2022)
This decision discusses and applies numerous rules governing fraud claims under Delaware law. For instance, an anti-reliance provision eliminates extra-contractual fraud claims while preserving intra-contractual fraud claims, and a non-recourse provision limits the entities and people against whom a claim can be brought. And, in Online HealthNow, Inv. v. CIP OCL Investments, LLC, 2021 WL 3557857 (Del. Ch. 2021), the Court of Chancery determined that a non-recourse provision did not bar claims against a non-signatory party. Here, the Superior Court applied Online HealthNow and held that fraud claims against non-seller defendants who allegedly were knowingly complicit in contractual fraud were not barred by the non-recourse and anti-reliance provisions of the agreement at issue.
Chancery Denies Member Status to Individual Not Admitted By Members in Accordance With LLC Agreement
Riverside Risk Advisors LLC v. Chao, C.A. No. 2019-0789-KSJM (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2022)
The LLC Act generally provides that someone is admitted as an LLC member as provided in the LLC agreement. Here, the plaintiff sued seeking declaratory relief that the defendant, a former employee, was not a member of the LLC and that a 2015 agreement was the LLC’s governing document, rather than an earlier agreement. The Court of Chancery ruled in the plaintiff’s favor, finding that the defendant was not a member because, under the LLC agreement, written consent of all members was required for admission, and the defendant needed to agree to be bound by the agreement in writing. But neither of these steps occurred. The Court also held that the 2015 agreement was the current operative agreement for the LLC despite not being approved by the defendant, because, as required by the previous LLC agreement, it was approved by all members, which the defendant was not.
Chancery Applies Implied Consent to Service Provision of Delaware LLC Act to Individual Without Any Formal Role at the LLC
In Re P3 Health Grp. Hldgs., LLC, Consol. C.A. No. 2021-0518-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2022)
The implied consent provision of Section 18-109 of Delaware’s LLC Act provides that “managers” of Delaware LLCs consent to the service of process in Delaware. The statute defines “managers” as both (1) those formally designated as managers, and (2) those who “participate  materially” in management. Disputes over whether an individual not falling in the first category falls in the second often focus on individuals with some formal role at the LLC. As this decision illustrates, however, an individual without any formal role at the LLC, but who otherwise participates materially in the LLC’s management, may also be found to be a manager, and thus have consented to service and jurisdiction in Delaware. Facts relevant to the Court of Chancery’s finding of an adequately alleged acting management, in this case, included the defendant’s direction of the company’s managers, control of the company’s advisors, involvement in legal decisions, and access to information.
Chancery Grants Specific Performance For Release of Escrowed Funds, Rejects Sellers’ Representative’s Arguments to Withhold Funds As Inconsistent With Purchase Agreement’s Plain Language and the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing
Am. Healthcare Admin. Services Inc. v. Aizen, C.A. No. 2019-0793-JTL (Del. Ch. Nov. 18, 2022)
Parties to acquisition agreements often have discretion concerning when to instruct an escrow agent to distribute funds post-closing, but any such discretion is limited by the plain language of the agreement and implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. This decision addresses the availability of an unclean hands defense to contract claims seeking equitable relief. More ›