Showing 8 posts from December 2023.
Chancery Finds Defendants Liable for Fraud Based on the Failure to Disclose Internal Billing Practices
NetApp Inc. v. Cinelli, C.A. No. 2020-1000-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 2, 2023)
This decision arose out of the sale of the company Cloud Jumper to NetApp, Inc. The seller’s management had been recording internal software use as revenue in its unaudited financial statements but never disclosed this practice to the buyer in the sale’s process. In this post-trial opinion, in addition to breaches of contract, the Court of Chancery held that the defendants were liable for fraud because they failed to disclose internal billing practices that created the appearance of higher company revenue. The Court reasoned that this failure constituted common law fraud because the defendants had a duty to speak regarding the billing practice, there was circumstantial evidence that they had scienter to commit fraud due to their knowledge of the internal billing practice, and the plaintiffs relied on the financial data that reflected the billing practice when considering whether to pursue the deal. The decision also reflects a detailed analysis of damages and expert testimony related to the misrepresentations.
Chancery Upholds Claims Against LLC Officers and Others Arising from Squeeze-Out of Minority Unitholders
Cygnus Opportunity Fund, LLC v. Washington Prime Group, LLC, C.A. No. 2022-0718-JTL (Del. Ch. Aug. 9, 2023)
An Indiana corporation reorganized via bankruptcy into a Delaware LLC, and a senior note holder negotiated for nearly 90 percent of the equity. The LLC agreement required that at least one member of the five-member board of managers be independent. It prohibited the controller from acquiring additional shares or squeezing out the minority without approval of the majority of independent managers or a majority of votes cast by minority unitholders. It also required the controller to provide notice of a proposed squeeze-out so that minority unitholders would have the option to challenge the fairness of the transaction unless it had received approval from a majority of the minority or a minority-approved independent manager. More ›
Frontline Techs. Parent, LLC v. Murphy, C.A. No. 2023-0546-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 23, 2023)
This non-compete decision reminds drafters to pay careful attention to scope and definitions, in particular language covering the appropriate entities within the corporate family. Here, a holding company, Frontline Technologies Parent LLC, entered into equity agreements with two employees of its operating subsidiary, Frontline Technologies Group, LLC, and these agreements included non-compete provisions covering competitors of the holding company. The employees later gained employment with a competitor of the operating subsidiary. The former employees were then sued for breaching the restrictive covenants. The Court of Chancery granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that the agreement’s language did not prohibit competition with the operating subsidiary, only the holding company. As the Court explained in applying the contract’s plain language, the parent and subsidiary must “live with the restrictive covenants they agreed to.” The Court also dismissed the claims for equitable rescission, finding that no mistake of fact had occurred, and rescission was not available to “save a party from its agreement to unambiguous contract provisions that later prove disadvantageous.”
Chancery Adopts Heightened Standard for Supplemental Disclosure Mootness Fee Awards in M&A Litigation
Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 2021-0202-KSJM (Del. Ch. July 6, 2023)
This opinion clamps down on mootness fee awards for immaterial supplemental disclosures in connection with M&A transactions. It announces that future mootness fees for supplemental disclosure will only be awarded where such disclosures are “material” not merely “helpful,” and even when such fees are awarded, they may be much lower than those awarded historically. More ›
Chancery Rejects Declining-Percentage Method, Awards $266.7 Million in Attorneys’ Fees for $1 Billion Class Action Settlement
In re Dell Techs. Inc. Class V S'holders Litig., C.A. No. 2018-0816-JTL (Del. Ch. July 31, 2023, revised Aug. 22, 2023)
Stockholders filed class actions in the Court of Chancery challenging the terms of a redemption of a special class of common stock. After years of litigation and the filing of pre-trial briefs, nineteen days before trial, the parties reached a cash settlement of $1 billion. The plaintiff's counsel submitted a fee application for 28.5 percent of the common fund. Stockholders holding more than 25 percent of the class objected to the fee application and asked that the Court instead apply the declining-percentage method used for calculating fees in federal securities litigation. More ›
Chancery Orders Company to Produce Books and Records in Response to Section 220 Demand and Grants Stockholder Leave to Seek Fees and Costs
Myers v Academy Securities, Inc. C.A. No. 2023-0241-BWD (Del. Ch. July 27, 2023).
Under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law ("DGCL"), stockholders are entitled to corporate books and records if they make a valid demand on the company, have a proper purpose for conducting an inspection, and establish that each category sought is essential to that purpose. In this case, a Magistrate in Chancery found that the stockholder met his burden to receive books and records for the purpose of determining the value of his shares. The Court also recommended that the stockholder be permitted to seek his attorneys' fees and costs for the books and records action. More ›
VH5 Capital, LLC v. Jeremiah Rabe, C.A. No. 2020-0315-NAC (Del. Ch. June 30, 2023)
The at-issue LLC had two members – the defendant and the plaintiff, both of whom also constituted the company's board. The company never observed any corporate formalities, including never holding any meetings or appointing a third board member, as required by the company's LLC Agreement. After operating for mere months and never earning a profit or accumulating assets, the defendant unilaterally dissolved the company. More ›
Chancery Approves Revised Class Action Settlement After Denying Initial Proposal Due to Overly Broad Release
In re AMC Entm't Holdings, Inc. S'holder Litig., Consol. C.A. No. 2023-0215-MTZ (Del. Ch. July 21, 2023)
In re AMC Entm't Holdings, Inc. S'holder Litig., Consol. C.A. No. 2023-0215-MTZ (Del. Ch. Aug. 11, 2023)
The board of directors of a company in financial distress sought to raise capital by issuing more common stock. Existing common stockholders did not approve the proposed measure. The board then issued new preferred stock with sufficient voting power to ensure the passage of board proposals to issue new common shares. Stockholders filed a class action, alleging that the board violated the Delaware General Corporation Law in creating the preferred stock and breached its fiduciary duties by diluting the common stock's voting power. More ›