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Kuhu Parasrampuria

Attorney

Showing 16 posts by Kuhu Parasrampuria.

Chancery Finds Employment Agreement’s Forum Selection Clause Did Not Reach Fiduciary Duty Claims, But Stays Case Pending Resolution of First-Filed Texas Action

EnVen Energy Corp. v. Dunwoody, C.A. No. 2019-0579-KSJM (Del. Ch. May 28, 2020)

This case illustrates Delaware’s approach in interpreting contractual forum selection provisions and in considering whether to stay a later-filed action under the well-known McWane doctrine. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Claims that Minority Stockholders who Rolled Over Equity in a Controlling Stockholder Merger Joined a “Control Group”

Gilbert v. Perlman, C.A. No. 2018-0453-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 29, 2020)

Delaware law imposes fiduciary duties upon controlling stockholders who use their power to control the corporate machinery. For that reason, determining who comprises a control group affects who may owe fiduciary duties. In some circumstances, where minority stockholders pool their interests to gain majority control and then bind themselves to act together to effectuate a transaction, minority stockholders may take on the duties of a controlling stockholder as members of a control group. But where an already existing controlling stockholder effectuates a cash-out merger, minority stockholders who roll over their shares and enter into a voting agreement to support the transaction will not be deemed part of a control group unless a plaintiff can plead that “the minority-holder’s participation [was] material to the controller’s scheme to exercise control of the entity, leading to the controller ceding some of its control power to the minority-holders.” More ›

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Chancery Defers to Liquidating Trustee in Approving a Sale of LLC Assets

Acela Invs. LLC v. DiFalco, C.A. No. 2018-0558-AGB (Del. Ch. Apr. 27, 2020).  

This case affirms that, absent an abuse of discretion, the Court of Chancery will defer to a sale agreement proffered and negotiated by a Court-appointed liquidating trustee. In this case, the Court had appointed the liquidating trustee (the “Trustee”) after granting judicial dissolution of a Delaware LLC due to member deadlock. At the last minute, and following a six-month sale process, a bidder that was owned by two of the LLC’s members made an offer that the Trustee rejected as untimely and inadequate. The bidder challenged the Trustee’s judgment in rejecting its bid. The Court upheld the Trustee’s decision to reject the bid, finding no evidence of an abuse of discretion.   More ›

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Chancery Finds Tortious Interference By Financial Industry Competitor and Addresses the Requirements for Obtaining Permanent Injunctive Relief

Preston Hollow Capital LLC v. Nuveen LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0169-SG (Del. Ch. April 9, 2020). 

This case illustrates the type of competitive conduct that will qualify as tortious interference with business relationships while demonstrating that permanent injunctive relief is unavailable absent a likelihood of future irreparable harm.  More ›

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LLC May Not Reverse Decision to Enter into Contractual Call Option Buyout Process with Members

Walsh v. White House Post Productions, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0419-KSJM (Del. Ch. Mar. 25, 2020).  

Parties to LLC agreements often provide for buyout provisions upon specified events, such as when a member ceases to be an employee. The provisions set forth a process by which the parties agree up front to a price to acquire the departing member’s interest. In this case, the Court prohibited an LLC from withdrawing from a contractually agreed-upon process to buy its members’ shares once the LLC initiated the process. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Finds Limited Liability Partnership Agreement Chose the “Aggregate Model” and Partner Withdrawal Caused Dissolution

United States v. Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC, No. 256, 2019 (Del. Mar. 17, 2020).  

In this case, the Delaware Supreme Court answered three certified questions from the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the effect of a partner’s withdrawal from a Delaware limited liability partnership formed to prosecute a qui tam action. The Court ruled that unambiguous language in the Partnership Agreement opting out of the “entity model” of partnership provided in the Delaware Revised Uniform Partnership Act meant that the partner’s withdrawal dissolved the partnership (Question 1). The Court also held that the entity that was continuing litigation through an amended complaint after the partner’s withdrawal was a new and different partnership (Question 2). Moreover, because the old entity dissolved at such an early point in the litigation, and because the partners had formed it solely to prosecute the litigation, the old partnership could not continue the litigation because to do so was inconsistent with the agreement’s requirements for a prompt liquidation (Question 3).  More ›

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Chancery Allows Fiduciary Duty Claims to Proceed against Minority Members Who Blocked Financings in Order to Bankrupt Company and Facilitate Unfair Asset Purchase

Skye Mineral Investors, LLC v. DXS Capital (U.S.) Ltd., C.A. No. 2018-0059-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 24, 2020) (Slights, V.C.).

Where parties to an LLC agreement do not unambiguously disclaim fiduciary duties, then Delaware law provides by default that managers owe traditional fiduciary duties to the entity and its members. The corporate law principles relating to fiduciary duties of controlling shareholders also apply, including that a minority member who exercises actual control may owe fiduciary duties. In this decision, the Court held that plaintiffs, the majority members of an LLC, adequately alleged that minority members exercised contractual blocking rights in a manner that gave them actual control over financing decisions and then used that control to implement in bad faith a scheme to enable the minority members to acquire the LLC’s assets on the cheap. With those allegations, the Court sustained a non-exculpated claim against the minority members for direct and derivative contract- and fiduciary-based claims. More ›

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Court of Chancery Finds the Delaware Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act Grants Standing for Insureds with Contingent, Unmatured Claims to Sue Insurers, but Dismisses Certain Claims as Time-Barred

Burkhart v. Genworth Fin. Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0691-JRS (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2020). 

This case illustrates not only that plaintiffs who have only unmatured and contingent claims against a transferor have standing to seek relief under the Delaware Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (“DUFTA”), but also that they must comply with that statute’s rules for timely filing to avoid dismissal. Here, the plaintiffs are a class of insureds who hold long-term care insurance policies and insurance agents who receive commission payments from selling the insurance policies. The defendant is Genworth Life Insurance Company (“GLIC”), which underwrote the insurance policies at issue. GLIC allegedly made fraudulent transfers between 2012 and 2014 while GLIC was near insolvency by: (1) declaring $410 million in dividends, and (2) terminating intra-company contracts that provided financial support. The plaintiffs filed an action in 2018 in which they argue that GLIC’s fraudulent transfers violate the DUFTA.  More ›

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Appraisal of Panera Bread: Court of Chancery Again Defers to Deal Price, Denies Request for a Refund of the Amount of Synergies

Posted In Appraisal, M&A

In re Appraisal of Panera Bread Co., C.A. No. 2017-0593-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2020).

JAB Holdings B.V. (“JAB”), a private company that also owns Einstein Bros., Caribou Coffee and Krispy Kreme, acquired Panera Bread Company (“Panera”) via a cash-out merger for $315.00 per share on July 18, 2017. Multiple dissenting shareholders (the “Petitioners”) filed an appraisal action, asserting that the fair value of their shares was $361.00 per share. Post-trial, the Court of Chancery disagreed with the Petitioners, ruling that the deal price minus synergies was the best evidence of fair value. This was because Panera had followed a reliable sale process and any flaws in that process did not undermine its reliability. Specifically, the Court held that, among other factors, the parties’ arm’s length negotiations, Panera’s disinterested and independent board, price increases during negotiations, the fact that no other parties bid on Panera either before or after the announcement of the merger, and the outreach that Panera did with potential buyers provided persuasive evidence of a reliable sale process. More ›

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Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Uber Derivative Action for Failure to Plead Demand Futility

Mcelrath v. Kalanick, No. 181-2019 (Del. Jan. 13, 2020). 

This case exemplifies the Delaware courts’ approach to examining demand futility. In 2016, Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) acquired Ottomotto LLC (“Otto”), a company started by a contingent of employees from Google’s autonomous vehicles group, in order for Uber to gain expertise in developing autonomous vehicles. The shareholder-plaintiff brought a claim, on behalf of Uber, against some of Uber’s directors. The plaintiff alleged that Uber’s directors ignored the risks presented by Otto’s alleged theft of Google’s intellectual property, which eventually led to Uber paying a settlement of $245 million to Google and terminating its employment agreement with Otto’s founder. More ›

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Chancery Rejects Challenge to Delaware as Proper Venue in Books and Records Action

Stanco v. Rallye Motors Holding, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0751-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 23, 2019). 

Delaware courts generally respect contractual forum selection provisions. When it comes to Delaware LLCs, however, the Delaware statute expressly precludes a non-managing member from waiving its right to a Delaware forum for proceedings involving the LLC’s internal affairs.  6 Del. C. § 18-109(d). And, in general, any waiver of rights must encompass knowledge of the right and clearly expressed intent to relinquish it. This case discusses the interplay between these rules. More ›

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Chancery Enforces Delaware Forum Selection Clause and Examines the Limited Circumstances Where a Foreign Nation May Divest Delaware Courts of Jurisdiction

AlixPartners, LLP v. Mori, C.A. No. 2019-0392- KSJM (Del. Ch. Nov. 26, 2019).

In AlixPartners, the Court of Chancery confirmed its jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes relating to the internal affairs of a Delaware limited liability partnership and explained the limited circumstances in which foreign law may divest the Court of subject matter jurisdiction. The suit arose when an employer, the global business advisory firm AlixPartners, which operated as a limited liability partnership, sued an employee, who also held partnership interests, for breaches of the relevant LLP Agreement, Equity Agreement, and Employment Agreement. Pursuant to the LLP and Equity Agreements, the employee had received equity in two partnerships formed under Delaware law by AlixPartners. More ›

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Chancery Construes Sellers’ APA Contractual Representations Concerning Customer Relationships and Changes in the Business, Finds No Breach

Julius v. Accurus Aerospace Corp., C.A. No. 2017-0632-MTZ (Del. Ch. Oct. 31, 2019).

This case serves as a cautionary tale when sellers’ representations in a purchase agreement fail to fully protect against the business risks in question.  According to the Court, this approach encourages contracting parties to allocate risks and draft agreements with precision.  This principle also aligns with Delaware’s pro-contractarian policy to enforce strictly the terms of parties’ agreements, especially when sophisticated parties at arm’s-length negotiate those agreements. More ›

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Superior Court Affirms Jury Verdict of Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing Concerning a Patent Dispute Settlement Agreement

DRIT LP v. Glaxo Grp. Ltd., C.A. No. N16C-07-218 WCC CCLD (Del. Super. Oct. 17, 2019).

This decision demonstrates the rare case where a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing survived a legal challenge and resulted in a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The case arose from a patent license and settlement agreement resolving a patent ownership dispute over the use of antibodies to treat Lupus. The 2008 settlement agreement gave ownership of the inventions to the defendants and obligated them to pay royalties to the plaintiff DRIT and its predecessor in interest. After paying the royalties for several years, in 2015, the defendants filed a request for a statutory disclaimer of the patent in question and notified the plaintiff that the disclaimer had the effect of eliminating any ongoing claim for royalties.  This event was not addressed in the parties’ agreement, and the court in post-trial motions upheld the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff on its implied covenant claim because the evidence supported findings that the defendants’ exercise of the  disclaimer in these circumstances was an unusual event that the parties would not have reasonably anticipated, and the disclaimer was not a normal rational action and was taken solely for the purpose of discharging defendants’ royalty obligations. The Superior Court found that the defendants simply had not presented sufficient evidence to convince the jury that the defendants had a credible business justification for filing the disclaimer. The Superior Court also rejected a challenge to the testimony of plaintiff’s industry expert that the defendants’ rationale for use of the disclaimer fell outside normative, rational behavior in the circumstances. The court thus found that the jury reasonably could have found the defendants’ proffered justification to be pretextual and not credible. 

Finally, the court granted damages in the form of royalties to DRIT from the time of the defendants’ breach to the date of the jury’s verdict, with a declaration of ongoing royalty obligations through the expiration of the patent. Going forward, the future royalty would be determined by the sales of the licensed drug. The court held that its ruling would uphold the expectation of the parties at the time of contracting, which was that DRIT would continue to receive royalties until the patent expired.

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Chancery Denies Former Derivative Plaintiff Standing to Challenge Merger That Extinguished Derivative Claims

Morris v. Spectra Energy P’tners (DE) GP, LP, C.A. No. 2019-0097-SG (Del. Ch. Sept. 30, 2019).

When a stockholder derivative claim is extinguished in a merger, the former derivative plaintiff may have standing to contest the merger directly on the ground that the entity’s fiduciaries permitted a material litigation asset to be extinguished in the merger process without value to the stockholders. In the well-known precedent In re Primedia Stockholders Litigation, 67 A. 3d 455 (Del. Ch. 2013), the Court of Chancery established a three part standing test: 1) Was the underlying claim viable? 2) Was its value material in light of the merger consideration? 3) Did the company fail to receive value for the claim in the merger because the buyer would not be willing to pursue it? Applying this test, here the Court ruled that the former unitholder and derivative plaintiff lacked standing to attack the merger and dismissed the claim.  More ›

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kparasrampuria@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6812
Kuhu Parasrampuria is an attorney in the Corporate and Commercial Litigation Practice Group. She focuses her practice on counseling and litigation involving corporations and other …
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