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Barnaby Grzaslewicz

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Showing 30 posts by Barnaby Grzaslewicz.

Court of Chancery Dismisses Thinly-Pleaded Breach of LPA Claim and Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Disclaimed by LPA and Foreclosed by Corwin


Ryan v. Buckeye Partners L.P. et al., C.A. No. 2021-0432-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 9, 2021)
Delaware is a notice pleading jurisdiction. But, even under this forgiving standard, the Court of Chancery Rule 8 still requires that the pleadings give defendants notice of the claims asserted against them. This recent decision from the Court of Chancery found that Plaintiff’s breach of a limited partnership agreement (“LPA”) claim failed to put Defendants on notice of even what provisions were allegedly breached. The Court also held that Plaintiff’s breach of fiduciary duty claims was deficient because the LPA disclaimed traditional fiduciary duties and, in all events, the claims were foreclosed by a fully informed vote under Corwin. More ›

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CCLD Finds Claims for Pre-Litigation Breaches of Covenants Restricting Speech Exempt From the “Litigation Privilege”


Feenix Payment Sys. LLC v. Blum, C.A. No. 21-05-099 EMD CCLD (Del. Super. Jan. 25, 2021)
Under Delaware law, the litigation privilege prevents potential tort liability for statements that may be actionable (e.g., as defamation) where such statements were made in connection with a legal case. This case finds that the litigation privilege is not necessarily apt, however, to claims for breach of contract based on pre-litigation breaches of non-disparagement clauses or similar covenants. More ›

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Court Of Chancery Affirms Arbitration Order And Denies Motion For Preliminary Injunction Based On The Preclusive Effect Of The Order


Agspring LLC v. NGP X US Holdings L.P., C.A. No. 2019-1021-JRS (Del. Ch. Jan. 19, 2022); Agspring LLC v. NGP X US Holdings L.P., C.A. No. 2019-0567-JRS (Del. Ch. Jan. 19, 2022)
Delaware follows the rule that an arbitrator’s award is “not lightly disturbed.” Accordingly, the applicable standard of review is “one of the narrowest standards of judicial review in all American jurisprudence.” To overturn an arbitrator’s order, a court must find that the arbitrator acted in “manifest disregard” of the law.  More ›

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Court of Chancery Holds That Exclusive Remedy Provisions Alone Are Not Enough To Bar Fraud Claims Based On Extra-Contractual Statements


Fortis Advisors LLC v. Johnson & Johnson, C.A. No. 2020-0881-LLW(Del. Ch. Dec. 13, 2021)
Delaware public policy respects freedom of contract, but
it is also intolerant of fraud. These dueling policy aims are often pitted against one another in the context of complex commercial transactions, where the contracting parties agree to allocate risk – including limitations on the information relied on in entering the transaction. Delaware courts have struck a balance: contractual disclaimers of reliance are permitted, but they must be express and limited to the other party’s extra-contractual statements. Here, the Court of Chancery considered whether an exclusive remedies provision was alone sufficient to disclaim reliance on extra-contractual statements. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Affirms that Seller’s Change of Business Operations in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Excused Buyer’s Obligation to Close


AB Stable VIII LLC v. Maps Hotels and Resorts One LLC, No. 71-2021 (Del. Dec. 8, 2021)
This Supreme Court decision affirms the Court of Chancery’s decision below (reported here) that a buyer’s obligation to purchase a $5.8 billion group of hotel properties was excused due to the seller’s failure to comply with a covenant that, between signing and closing, it would operate “only in the ordinary course of business, consistent with past practice in all material respects.”  More ›

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Chancery Rules That The Standard Of Proof For Contempt Motions Is The Preponderance Of The Evidence, Not Clear And Convincing Evidence


inTEAM Associates, LLC v. Heartland Payment Systems, LLC, C.A. No. 11523-VCF (Del. Ch. Oct. 29, 2021)
Court of Chancery Rule 70(b) empowers the Court to hold a party in contempt for, among other things, failing to obey an injunctive order. The standard of proof required to obtain a contempt order has not been uniformly applied. This recent decision applies the preponderance of the evidence standard, in contrast to certain decisions over the past decade applying the clear and convincing evidence standard. More ›

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Delaware Court of Chancery Holds That Scope of Director and Officer Indemnification Under D&O Policy Is Within Exclusive Jurisdiction Of The Delaware Superior Court


Ernesto Rodriguez et al. v. Great American Insurance Company, C.A. No. 2020-0387-JRS (Del. Ch. Oct. 20, 2021)
The Court of Chancery’s subject matter jurisdiction is limited, and arises in three circumstances: (1) the complaint asserts an equitable claim; (2) the complaint seeks an equitable remedy and there is no adequate remedy at law; or (3) jurisdiction is vested in the Court of Chancery by statute. In this recent decision, the Court of Chancery held that its limited subject matter jurisdiction did not extend to determine the scope of a Delaware corporation’s directors and officers (D&O) insurance policy. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Claims That Private Equity Sponsors Comprised A Control Group


Patel v. Duncan, C.A. No. 2020-0418-MTZ (Del. Ch. Sept. 30, 2021)
For stockholders to comprise a control group, the alleged group members must be connected in some “legally significant way – such as by contract, common ownership, agreement or another arrangement – to work together toward a shared goal.” Sheldon v. Pinto Tech. Ventures, L.P., 220 A.3d 245, 251-52 (Del. 2019). There must be “an indication of an actual agreement, although it need not be formal or written.” Id. Here, the court dismissed a claim alleging that two private equity funds comprised a control group that agreed to cause the corporation to engage in two unfair, self-interested transactions as a quid pro quo arrangement between them. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged they agreed to cause the corporation to overpay in two successive transactions in which the counterparties who benefitted unfairly were affiliates of the respective private equity funds.  More ›

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Delaware Court of Chancery Enjoins Arbitration, Holds It Has Subject Matter Jurisdiction to Decide Substantive Arbitrability In Face Of Competing Arbitration Provisions


AffiniPay, LLC, et al. v. West, C.A. No. 2021-0549-LWW (Del. Ch. Sept. 17, 2021)
As a general matter, Delaware courts retain jurisdiction to determine substantive arbitrability – that is, whether claims are subject to arbitration under the relevant arbitration clause. Delaware courts will defer to arbitrators’ determinations of such issues, however, where the parties’ contract reflects their “clear and unmistakable” intent to do so, a standard that may be met by, among other things, contractual language that “all disputes” are submitted to arbitration and the incorporation of official arbitration rules that empower arbitrators to decide arbitrability. Here, because the parties’ dispute implicated multiple agreements with competing and conflicting arbitration clauses assigning arbitrability to different arbitrators, the Court of Chancery retained jurisdiction to determine arbitrability. The Court granted a preliminary injunction preventing arbitration from proceeding in the arguably incorrect forum. More ›

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Delaware Superior Court Holds That Claim For Gross Negligence Against Corporate Managers Is An Equitable Claim For Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Over Which It Lacks Subject Matter Jurisdiction


Techview Investments Ltd., v. Amstar Poland Property Fund I, L.P., C.A. No. N20C-11-229 EMD CCLD (Del. Super. Ct. Aug. 31, 2021)
The court's ability to hear actions is limited by their jurisdiction – both jurisdiction over parties and jurisdiction over claims.  This recent decision from the Delaware Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division provides guidance on (1) the scope of contractually granted personal jurisdiction; and (2) subject matter jurisdiction for claims of gross negligence against corporate managers in Delaware. More ›

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Chancery Sustains Founders’ Implied Covenant Claim For “Bad Faith” Termination To Deprive Them Of Contingent Compensation, Reasoning That Contracts Cannot Be Combined And Must Be Read On Their Own Terms, But The Implied Covenant May Provide Missing Terms


Servaas v. Ford Smart Mobility LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0909-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 25, 2021)
Delaware common law requires that contracts be read on their own terms.  Accordingly, contracts cannot be “combined” to supply missing terms.  However, the implied covenant and good faith and fair dealing can, in certain circumstances, supply these missing terms.  More ›

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Chancery Applies Rule 15(aaa), Declines to Revive Dismissed Claims under the Law of the Case Doctrine


Sciabacucchi v. Malone, C.A. No. 11418-VCG (Del. Ch. Aug. 18, 2021).
Court of Chancery Rule 15(aaa) provides that, if a plaintiff files an answering brief opposing a Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 23.1 motion, a decision granting the motion is with prejudice unless the court “for good cause shown, shall find that dismissal with prejudice shall not be just under all the circumstances.” In this decision, the court applied that rule and the law of the case doctrine to deny a motion to amend to reassert dismissed claims. More ›

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Chancery Finds Equitable Defenses Bar LLC Dilution and Redomestication Claims, and Holds it Lacks Jurisdiction to Dissolve a Foreign Entity


In re Coinmint, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0983-MTZ (Del. Ch. Aug. 12, 2021)
This decision illustrates that, in specific circumstances, the equitable defenses of waiver, acquiescence, and estoppel may preclude a party from challenging otherwise voidable actions. In addition, deciding an issue of first impression, the Court held that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to equitably dissolve a non-Delaware business entity. More ›

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Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division Reaffirms Delaware’s Public Policy Against Intra-Contractual Fraud


Aveanna Healthcare, LLC v. Epic/Freedom LLC, N20C-08-055 AML CCLD (July 29, 2021).
Under Delaware law, parties may agree contractually to disclaim reliance – and potential liability for fraud – based on false extra-contractual statements. Delaware public policy, however, does not allow a party to disclaim liability for fraudulent statements within the parties’ contract. In addition, an owner who knowingly causes a company to make misrepresentations may be personally liable for fraud, even though an agreement provides such representations are made by “the company.” More ›

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Chancery Shifts Fees, Finds That Defendant’s Litigation Tactics in Books and Records Case Crossed The Line Between Aggressive Litigation And Glaringly Egregious Conduct


Pettry, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., C.A. Nos. 2020-0132-KSJM; 2020-0138-KSJM; 2020-0155-KSJM; 2020-0173-KSJM (Del. Ch. July 22, 2021).
Delaware follows the American Rule: all litigants pay their own attorneys’ fees, no matter the outcome of the litigation. In rare cases where a litigant’s conduct is “glaringly egregious,” Delaware courts will make an exception and shift fees. This is known as the “bad faith” exception.
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bgrzaslewicz@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6827
Barnaby Grzaslewicz is an attorney in the Corporate and Commercial Litigation Practice Group. He focuses his practice on counseling and litigation involving corporations and other …
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