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Bryan Townsend

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Showing 41 posts by Bryan Townsend.

Chancery Declines to Order Specific Performance of $5.8 Billion Luxury Hotel Deal Scuttled by COVID-19 Changes to Hotel Business Operations

AB Stable VIII LLC v. MAPS Hotels and Resorts One LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0310-JTL (Del. Ch. Nov. 30, 2020)

Parties to a sale and purchase agreement (“SPA”) had planned to close a deal to sell fifteen luxury hotels for $5.8 billion. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe in early 2020 and battered the hotel industry, the buyer terminated the SPA. Seller sought specific performance in the Court of Chancery. After trial, the Court denied seller’s request for relief. More ›

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Delaware Superior Court Applies Law-of-the-Case Doctrine and Collateral Estoppel to a Prior Chancery Proceeding

Posted In CCLD, Superior Court

Preston Hollow Capital LLC v. Nuveen LLC, C.A. No. N19C-10-107-MMJ [CCLD] (Del. Super. Dec. 15, 2020)

Plaintiff and defendants competed as institutional investors in the high-yield municipal bond market. Seeking to impair plaintiff’s standing in the marketplace, defendants made statements to broker-dealers critical of plaintiff. In turn, plaintiff sent defendants a cease-and-desist letter. In response, defendants sent letters to broker-dealers that suggested defendants would not participate in investments with broker-dealers who continued to do business with plaintiff. Plaintiff then filed suit in the Court of Chancery, which held that defendants had committed tortious interference with prospective business relations, but dismissed plaintiff’s defamation claim, and transferred this claim to the Superior Court. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Finds that Court of Chancery Had Jurisdiction To Enjoin a Collateral Attack on a Prior Arbitration Award Under the Federal Arbitration Act

Gulf LNG Energy, LLC v. ENI USA Gas Mktg., LLC, No. 22, 2020 (Del. Nov. 17, 2020)

This decision confirms that the Court of Chancery has jurisdiction to enjoin a collateral attack on a prior arbitration award. The Delaware Supreme Court also reasons that the determination of whether a second arbitration collaterally attacks a prior arbitration does not depend on the res judicata or collateral estoppel effect of claims raised or decided in the prior arbitration, but rather whether the claimant asserts irregularities in the prior arbitration or seeks to rectify the harm it suffered, which are issues subject to exclusive review under the post-award procedure in the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). More ›

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Chancery Sustains CEO’s Contract Claims in WeWork Litigation

Posted In Chancery

In re WeWork Litig., Consol. C.A. No. 2020-0258-AGB (Del. Ch. Oct. 30, 2020).
A company facing a liquidity crisis (the shared working space company, WeWork), its outgoing CEO (Adam Nuemann), and two related SoftBank investment entities that collectively owned more than forty percent of the company’s equity entered into a Master Transaction Agreement (“MTA”). The MTA was designed to provide funding to the company, facilitate the CEO’s exit, and provide liquidity to minority stockholders. The MTA required a specific sequence of transactions from the entities: (1) equity financing; (2) stock purchase via a tender offer; and (3) debt financing after the closing of the tender offer. The tender offer’s closing was subject to certain conditions, which the parties to the MTA were required to use their reasonable best efforts to meet. More ›

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Chancery Questions Utility of Aronson Test, Dismisses Derivative Suit of Facebook Stockholder for Failure To Allege Demand Futility

United Food and Comm. Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, C.A. No. 2018-0671-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2020)
In its recent decision in United Food and Comm. Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, the Court of Chancery discussed the legal tests to demonstrate demand futility in derivative actions under the seminal cases of Aronson and Rales. Reconciling longstanding and recent case law, the Court ruled that demand futility turns on whether at the time of filing of the complaint, the majority of a board of directors is disinterested, independent, and capable of impartially evaluating a litigation demand to bring suit on behalf of a company. More ›

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Chancery Finds Warrant Issuance Triggered Stockholder Preemption Rights

Posted In Chancery

L-5 Healthcare Partners, LLC v. Alphatec Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0412-KSJM (Del. Ch. Oct. 12, 2020)

Pursuant to a share purchase agreement, a plaintiff stockholder had preemption rights that entitled the stockholder to participate on a pro-rata basis if the defendant company issued common stock equivalents to a third-party buyer. Defendant issued warrants convertible into common stock to a nonparty. In consideration of plaintiff’s preemption rights, defendant made a proposal for plaintiff to provide the company with a loan in exchange for acquiring warrants, based on a blended version of the prices and other terms of the issuance to the nonparty. The proposal was, however, subject to approval by defendant’s board and the nonparty, and contingent upon defendant drawing down on the loan provided by plaintiff. Plaintiff filed suit in the Delaware Court of Chancery, seeking to enforce its preemption rights, and moved for partial judgment on the pleadings. More ›

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Chancery Addresses Contract and Fraud Claims Relating to M&A Post-Closing Price Adjustments

Posted In Chancery, M&A

Roma Landmark Theaters, LLC v. Cohen Exhibition Co., LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0585-PAF (Del. Ch. Sept. 30, 2020)

In Roma Landmark Theaters, the parties’ purchase agreement contained a framework for post-closing price adjustments and set forth the pre-closing duties of the buyer (but not the sellers) relating to certain calculations and financial information. The agreement included a dispute mechanism, which provided for an independent accounting firm to make a binding determination as to the distribution of escrowed funds in connection with a dispute over post-closing price adjustments. The accounting firm decided the dispute largely in sellers’ favor. Sellers then filed suit in the Court of Chancery to confirm the accounting firm’s decision, and require buyer to release the escrowed funds. Buyer filed counterclaims, alleging that the sellers committed financial disclosure misrepresentations amounting to fraud and bad faith. More ›

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Alleged Third-Party Beneficiary’s Contract and Alternate Unjust Enrichment Claims Survive Dismissal at the Pleadings Stage Based on Ambiguous Contract Language

CHS/Cmty. Health Sys., Inc. v. Steward Health Care Sys. LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0165-JRS (Del. Ch. Aug. 21, 2020)

A claim for unjust enrichment will not lie where there is a contract that governs the relationship between parties. Both types of claims may survive a motion to dismiss, however, if there exists a contractual ambiguity that prevents the Court of Chancery from interpreting the meaning of contract at the pleadings stage. More ›

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Chancery Holds Statutory Rights to Inspect Books and Records of a Delaware Corporation are Subject to the Internal Affairs Doctrine and Governed Exclusively by Delaware Law

JUUL Labs, Inc. v. Grove, C.A. No. 2020-0005-JTL (Del. Ch. Aug. 13, 2020)

Stockholder inspection rights are a core matter of the governance of a corporation. This decision holds that, pursuant to the internal affairs doctrine, inspection rights for a stockholder of a Delaware corporation are governed exclusively by Delaware law, not by laws of other jurisdictions, regardless of where a company’s principal place of business is located. More ›

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Chancery Determines Validity of LLC Ownership Following Fraud and Deceit in Cross-Border Control Dispute

Lynch v. Gonzalez, C.A. No. 2019-0356-MTZ (Del. Ch. July 31, 2020)

Disputes over control of a Delaware limited liability company can turn on rigorous fact-finding efforts by the Court of Chancery where issues of witness credibility may be paramount. As this decision illustrates, the Court will not permit trickery or misrepresentations to prevail in a control dispute, nor will it apply the doctrine of unclean hands to permit an undeserved windfall or countenance a fraudulent scheme. More ›

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Chancery Orders Trial to Determine Meaning of Ambiguous Post-Closing Covenants in a Stock Purchase Agreement

Posted In Chancery, Earn-Out, M&A

Schneider Nat’l Carriers, Inc. v. Kuntz, C.A. No. 2017-0711-PAF (Del. Ch. July 16, 2020)

If parties to a contract offer reasonable but conflicting interpretations of ambiguous contractual language, the Court of Chancery may deny summary judgment and order trial for purposes of weighing conflicting extrinsic evidence and witness testimony to interpret the meaning of the contractual language. More ›

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Chancery Interprets Merger Agreement Termination Fee Provision But Denies Summary Judgment to Resolve Questions of Fact in Continuing Busted Deal Litigation Between The Williams Companies and Energy Transfer

The Williams Cos., Inc. v. Energy Transfer LP, C.A. No. 12168-VCG (Del. Ch. July 2, 2020)

The Court of Chancery will enforce a merger agreement’s plain and unambiguous terms, including parties’ agreed-upon conditions for liability of a termination fee. Termination fee litigation, however, often involves critical factual determinations, such as issues of materiality or best efforts that may require a trial to develop the appropriate record to determine liability. More ›

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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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btownsend@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6915
Bryan Townsend focuses his practice on litigation involving fiduciary, corporate, and commercial matters in the Delaware Court of Chancery. He represents directors and officers, as …
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