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Albert H. Manwaring, IV

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Showing 56 posts by Albert H. Manwaring, IV.

Chancery Interprets Contractual Language Permitting Asset Sale

AM Gen. Holdings LLC v. The Renco Grp., Inc., C.A. No. 7639-VCS (Del. Ch. June 26, 2020)

Under fundamental contract interpretation principles, the Court of Chancery will interpret a contract to give effect to specific over general contract language, and to avoid interpretations that render contractual language as surplusage. More ›

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Court of Chancery Dismisses Aiding and Abetting Claim Against NetSuite’s Fiduciaries for Role in Alleged Overpayment by Oracle

In re Oracle Corp. Derivative Litig, Consol. C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. June 22, 2020)

At the pleadings stage, a claim for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty requires that it is reasonably conceivable that the alleged aider and abettor knowingly provided substantial assistance in the breach of fiduciary duty. This decision reflects that substantial assistance in an alleged conspiracy of silence might not meet the reasonably conceivable standard if public statements and securities filings contain sufficient information about the underlying course of conduct. More ›

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Court of Chancery Sustains Aiding-and-Abetting Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Against Financial Advisor Based on its Conflicts of Interest in Going-Private Transaction

Morrison v. Berry, C.A. No. 12808-VCG (Del. Ch. June 1, 2020)

Even if fiduciary duty of care claims against a target company’s board of directors are exculpated, an aiding-and-abetting claim against a financial advisor to the board may survive a motion to dismiss when the advisor is alleged to have knowingly misled the board and prevented the board from running a reasonable sales process. More ›

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Corporate Opportunity Doctrine Waiver Does Not By Itself Also Constitute a Waiver of Default Fiduciary Duties under an LLC Agreement

77 Charters, Inc. v. Gould, C.A. No. 2019-0127-JRS (Del. Ch. May 18, 2020)

The Court of Chancery held that a waiver of the corporate opportunity doctrine did not by itself constitute a waiver of default fiduciary duties under an LLC agreement. 

Plaintiff 77 Charters, Inc. held non-preferred ownership interests in a joint venture. Defendant Jonathan Gould indirectly held similar non-preferred interests and managed the joint venture’s managing member. Subsequently, Gould indirectly purchased an owner’s preferred interests, and revised the joint venture’s waterfall repayment structure to provide a guaranteed, higher rate of return for preferred interests, at the expense of the residual, non-preferred interests, and reduced the standard of care for the Gould managing member. After 77 Charters filed a books and records demand and settled a related action, Gould sold the joint venture at a price that returned no funds to 77 Charters as a residual owner of non-preferred interests. 77 Charters filed contract and tort claims, and defendants moved to dismiss. More ›

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Applying Rare Intermediate Review of Forum Non Conveniens, the Delaware Superior Court Stays a Delaware Action to Permit Filing of Claims in California

GXP Capital, LLC v. Argonaut Mfg. Servs., Inc., C.A. No. N18C-07-267 PRW CCLD (Del. Super. July 1, 2020)

When evaluating a forum non conveniens challenge, Delaware has a seldom used, intermediate framework of review. Under Gramercy Emerging Markets Fund v. Allied Irish Banks, P.L.C., 173 A.3d 1033, 1044 (Del. 2017), when a prior foreign lawsuit was filed, but is no longer pending, relief in Delaware will be granted or denied based on whichever party the Cryo-Maid factors favor under the traditional forum non conveniens framework. There is no presumption in favor of a plaintiff (such as when a Delaware action is first-filed) or in favor of a defendant (such as when a foreign action is first-filed and still pending). More ›

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Delaware Superior Court Interprets Contractual Language Governing Earn-out Payment

Posted In CCLD, Earn-Out

B&C Holdings, Inc. v. Temperatsure Holdings, LLC, C.A. No. N19C-02-105 AML CCLD (Del. Super. Apr. 22, 2020).

As this decision demonstrates, Delaware courts will enforce the plain and ordinary meaning of contractual terms governing an earn-out payment, including the process by which a payment is to be calculated, noticed, and contested. More ›

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Court of Chancery Permits Targeted Jurisdictional Discovery to Seek Proof to Support Non-Frivolous Claim of Personal Jurisdiction

HM Life Ins. Co. v. Wilmington Sav. Fund Soc’y, FSB, C.A. No. 2018-0649-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 9, 2020).

If a plaintiff has pled facts in its complaint to support a non-frivolous claim of personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the Court of Chancery may allow targeted jurisdictional discovery to seek proof that the Court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant in response to a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. More ›

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Minority Members Allegedly Exploited Contract Rights in Breach of Fiduciary Duties to Acquire Company Assets on the Cheap

Delaware law requires directors of a corporation to strive in good faith and on an informed basis to maximize the value of the corporation for the benefit of all of its stockholders, and not to prefer the interests of stockholders with contract rights or preferences. Consequently, where the interests of stockholders diverge from the contracts rights of other stockholders, directors and controlling stockholders may breach their fiduciary duty of loyalty by exploiting or opportunistically favoring their contract rights over the interests of the stockholders as a whole. More ›

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Chancery Shifts Attorneys’ Fees Under Bad-Faith Exception Based on False Statements in Plaintiff’s Complaint and Obstruction of Discovery

Bay Capital Finance, L.L.C. v. Barnes and Noble Education, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0539-KSJM (Del. Ch. Mar. 30, 2020).

With some limited exceptions, the American Rule requires parties to pay their own attorneys’ fees in litigation. One exception permitting a court to shift fees is bad-faith litigation conduct. False or misleading statements by parties in their pleadings and abuse or obstruction of the discovery process are two examples of conduct that may support shifting fees. More ›

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Chancery Finds the Common Interest Doctrine Shields Communications Between a Bankruptcy Litigation Trust and its Largest Unsecured Creditor

RCS Creditor Trust v. Schorsch, C.A. No. 2017-0178-SG (Del. Ch. Mar. 20, 2020). 

The common interest doctrine shields communications with a third-party from disclosure when the common interest invoked by the party asserting the privilege is in furtherance of a joint legal strategy or objective with the third-party, and not simply for a commercial purpose. More ›

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Chancery Holds That Res Judicata Precludes Plaintiff’s Claim for Information Rights Under Merger Agreement

Posted In Chancery, M&A

Fortis Advisors LLC v. Shire US Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0933-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 13, 2020).

The doctrine of res judicata bars a plaintiff from splitting claims arising from a single transaction into multiple actions. As this decision illustrates, the requirement to plead all claims arising from a transaction in a lawsuit to avoid claim preclusion on res judicata grounds may include a claim for information rights arising from a merger agreement. A party with information rights should carefully evaluate those rights when bringing a claim for breach of contract, and should not assume that subsequent claims for information rights under the contract will avoid claim preclusion under the doctrine of res judicata. More ›

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Delaware Corporate and Commercial Case Law 2019 Year in Review

This top ten list summarizes significant decisions of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Delaware Court of Chancery over the past calendar year. Our criteria for selection are that the decision either meaningfully changed Delaware law or provided clarity or guidance on issues relevant to corporate and commercial litigation in Delaware. We present the decisions in no particular order. The list does not include every significant decision, but provides litigants and litigators with an array of decisions on varied issues likely to affect business transactions or business litigation.  More ›

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Co-Founder Squeezed Out in Conversion from LLC to Corporation Adequately Pled Claims for Fraud, Breach of Fiduciary Duties, Aiding and Abetting, and Civil Conspiracy

Ogus v. SportTechie, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0869-AGB (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2020). 

Simon Ogus was a co-founder of a sports-technology news company. He owned 44.5 percent of the LLC’s units, held veto power over major decisions of the company, and had employment protection based on a requirement that the company could only terminate his employment for cause. After outside investors began making large investments in the company, several officers and directors persuaded Mr. Ogus to: (1) approve a conversion of the LLC to a corporation; (2) sign a written consent of stockholders to expand the size of the board of directors; and (3) execute a shareholders agreement that gave the company the option to purchase Mr. Ogus’ shares if his employment was terminated for any reason, at fair market value, as determined in good faith by the board. One month later, the company terminated Mr. Ogus without cause and proposed to purchase his shares. Mr. Ogus brought suit, claiming that the officers and directors conspired to remove him from the company and eliminate his 44.5% interest to enrich themselves, and transfer control of the company to Oak View Group, a private equity & venture fund. Defendants moved to dismiss his suit. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Explains That Litigants Seeking Application of Foreign Law Have Burden To Establish its Substance

Germaninvestments AG v. Allomet Corp., No. 291, 2019 (Del. Jan. 27, 2020). 

In reversing the Court of Chancery’s decision that Austrian law applied to the interpretation of whether a forum selection clause was permissive or mandatory, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that, to the extent prior decisions were unclear on the issue, a party seeking the application of foreign law in a Delaware court has the burden not only of raising the issue of the applicability of foreign law under court rules, but also, of establishing the substance of the foreign law to be applied.    More ›

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Delaware Superior Court Distinguishes Between Affirmative and Negative Covenants in Earnout Dispute

Posted In CCLD, Earn-Out

Quarum v. Mitchell Int’l, Inc., C.A. No. N19C-03-087 AML CCLD (Del. Super. Jan. 21, 2020).

Under Delaware law, parties may structure covenants in an earnout agreement as affirmative (mandating action) or negative (prohibiting action). Given the important differences in the obligations these types of covenants impose, as illustrated by this decision, parties should carefully consider the contractual language in drafting. More ›

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amanwaring@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6868
Albert H. Manwaring, IV is a partner of Morris James LLP, where he is the Chair of the Firm’s Corporate and Commercial Litigation Group and a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee …
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