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Showing 74 posts by Bryan Townsend.

Delaware Uniform Arbitration Act Did Not Permit the Court of Chancery to Confirm or Vacate an Interim Partial Arbitration Award Because It Was Not Final


Astrum Fund I GP, LP v. Maracci, C.A. No. 2020-0919-PAF (Del. Ch. Jan. 27, 2022) Maracci v. Astrum Fund I GP, LP, C.A. No. 2021-0073-PAF (Del. Ch. Jan. 27, 2022)
A limited partnership agreement’s dispute resolution framework mandated arbitration for certain disputes but contained a Delaware forum selection provision for the resolution of damages. Limited partners initiated arbitration proceedings against the partnership and its general partner after a real estate transaction resulted in the loss of their entire investment. The arbitrator issued an interim partial award (“IPA”) after finding that the general partner had breached the agreement and breached the general partner’s duty of care. The arbitrator did not issue a final award because of the agreement’s requirement that a Delaware court determines damages. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Action for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction on Grounds that the Proposed Declaratory Judgments Would Provide an Adequate Remedy at Law


Qlarant, Inc. v. IP Commercialization Labs, LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0574-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 25, 2022)
Pursuant to an asset purchase agreement, the plaintiff buyer purchased assets from a seller and several of its affiliates. Despite another company asserting that it owned twenty percent of the seller, the agreement represented that the seller had only two individual shareholders. The company that claimed it was a shareholder filed an action in Maryland challenging the asset purchase transaction. In turn, the plaintiff buyer filed an action in the Court of Chancery seeking declaratory judgments that the company was not a shareholder of the seller at the time of the agreement and that the asset-purchase transaction had been validly consummated. The plaintiff also asked the Court to permanently enjoin the company from asserting it was a shareholder of the seller. More ›

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After Entry of Default Judgment, Chancery Grants Leave to Amend Complaint to Add a New Claim for Reverse Veil-Piercing Against Two New Defendants


P.C. Connection, Inc. v. Synygy Ltd., C.A. No. 2020-0869-JTL (Del. Ch. Jan. 10, 2022)
After entry of a default judgment for liability, but before entry of a judgment awarding relief, the Court of Chancery granted the plaintiff leave to amend the complaint to add a new claim for reverse veil-piercing against two new entity defendants under Court of Chancery Rule 15(a). The Court found that the liberal Rule 15(a) standard regarding amendments to complaints applied – rather than the relatively stringent requirements for setting aside a judgment under Rules 59 and 60 – because the Court had only entered judgment on liability and had not yet determined the appropriate relief, and thus, the judgment was not final. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Complaint Against LLC Directors Based on Specific Terms of the Operating Agreement and Laches


Erisman v. Zaitsev, C.A. No. 2020-0903-JRS (Del. Ch. Dec. 29, 2021)
Under Delaware law, parties to limited liability company agreements have the freedom to alter or eliminate fiduciary duties, and to eliminate liability for breaches of contractual and fiduciary duties. Here, the Court of Chancery dismissed LLC members’ complaint because, among other reasons, the Operating Agreement (i) replaced default common law fiduciary duties with a contractual standard that limited director liability to claims in which directors did not rely on the terms of the Operating Agreement in good faith; and (ii) it further provided that the directors were not liable for money damages unless they failed to act in good faith, engaged in intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of the law, derived an improper personal benefit, or breached their duty of loyalty to the company. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Action Arising from $1.2 Billion Stock Sale Based on Plaintiffs’ Failure to Plead Demand Futility


In re Kraft Heinz Co. Deriv. Litig., Cons. C.A. No. 2019-0587-LWW (Del. Ch. Dec. 15, 2021)
The Court of Chancery dismissed an insider-trading action on the grounds that plaintiffs failed to plead that a majority of a company’s board was not disinterested or independent. By way of background, an investment firm held 24 percent of a publicly-traded Delaware company and rights to three seats on an eleven-member board. At an August 2018 meeting, the board received information that the company likely would miss annual financial targets. Four days later, the investment firm sold nearly a third of its stake, for more than $1.2 billion. The stock sale occurred after the investment firm provided the company with a statement that the firm was not in possession of any material, nonpublic information, and after the company’s board approved lifting insider restrictions that permitted the firm to sell the shares. Three months later, the company disclosed disappointing financial results, and the stock price dropped significantly. More ›

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Chancery Issues Preliminary Injunction To Bar Arbitration on the Grounds that no Agreement was Formed


Hologram, Inc. v. Caplan
, C.A. No. 2021-0736-KSJM (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2021)
The Court of Chancery issued a preliminary injunction barring arbitration because the parties had never reached an agreement that included arbitration. By way of background, two former high-school classmates agreed in principle to begin a company. One would own ninety percent of the shares and serve as president and CEO, and the other would own ten percent of the shares in exchange for providing ideas and business opportunities. The president sent paperwork to his former classmate via email, including a restricted stock purchase agreement that proposed a vesting period for shares, required specific terms for acceptance, and included an arbitration provision. The former classmate responded with a request to change the shares to non-vesting. Over the ensuing months, the two could not agree on final terms, and the specific terms of acceptance (including in-person execution and payment) were never met. Nearly eight years later, as the company raised a $65 million Series B investment, the former classmate suddenly reached out to inquire about his ownership status. He subsequently filed a private arbitration demand against the company in Illinois. The company responded by filing a Delaware action seeking a declaration that the arbitration was improper because no agreement had been reached between the parties in connection with the claims made by the former classmate. The company moved for a preliminary injunction to prevent the continuation of the Illinois arbitration. More ›

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Chancery Revived a Dismissed Claim after Discovery Revealed a Desire for Liquidity that Resulted in a Divergent Interest in M&A Sale Process


In re Mindbody, Inc., S’holder Litig., Cons. C.A. No. 2019-0442-KSJM (Del. Ch. Dec. 9, 2021)
A desire for liquidity can result in a divergent interest sufficient to plead fiduciary duty claims against a defendant protected by an exculpatory charter provision. More ›

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Chancery Strictly Applies Statutory Standing Requirement to Dismiss Books and Records Action by Former Stockholder Who Filed Hours After Effective Time of Merger


(Previously published in ABA's Business Law Today) 
Swift v. Houston Wire & Cable Co., C.A. No. 2021-0525-LWW (Del. Ch. Dec. 3, 2021)
In this decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery applied Section 220(c) of the Delaware General Corporation Law to dismiss a books and records complaint filed shortly after an event that, under the terms of a merger agreement, caused the plaintiff’s shares to be canceled.  More ›

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Chancery Sustains Claims for Controlling Stockholders’ Breach of Fiduciary Duties, But Dismisses Claim to Void Transaction under DGCL Section 205


Amgine Techs. (US), Inc. v. Miller, C.A. No. 2020-0537-JRS (Del. Ch. Nov. 29, 2021)

This case involves the Court of Chancery’s consideration of various Rule 12 arguments for dismissal advanced by defendants – alleged controlling stockholders who assigned certain of the corporation’s intellectual property to another entity they owned, and who allegedly caused the corporation to enter into a stockholders’ agreement that gave them preferential terms. More ›

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Chancery Applies Plain Language of a Merger Covenant To Dismiss Acquirer’s Untimely Indemnification Claim and Deny Sellers’ Request for Detailed Annual Reports


Supernus Pharms., Inc. v. Reich Consulting Grp., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0217-MTZ (Del. Ch. Oct. 29, 2021)
Supernus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. acquired biotech startup Biscayne Neurotherapeutics, Inc. pursuant to a 2018 merger agreement. In 2019, Supernus submitted indemnification claim notices to Reich Consulting Group, Inc., the security holder representative for Biscayne. Subsequently, Supernus filed an indemnification action against Reich in the Court of Chancery. Following trial, plaintiff Supernus’s only remaining indemnification claim was based on a provision in the merger agreement that required Biscayne to operate in the ordinary course of business during a specific period of time (“Ordinary Course Covenant”). More ›

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Presented with Documents Outside the Pleadings, Chancery Converts Motion To Dismiss to Motion for Summary Judgment and Allows Discovery


Totta v. CCSB Fin. Corp., C.A. No. 2021-0173-KSJM (Del. Ch. Oct. 20, 2021)
While the Court may take judicial notice of the contents of materials like newspaper articles, public filings and websites for certain purposes, it generally may not do so to establish the truth of their contents. Where, as here, a party relies on documents outside the pleadings, the Court may convert a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment, and therefore deny the motion. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Overrules Gentile, Resolving Tension in Legal Test To Determine Whether a Claim Is Direct or Derivative


Brookfield Asset Mgmt., Inc. v. Rosson, No. 406, 2020 (Del. Sept. 20, 2021)
Seeking to bring clarity to the issue of whether a claim is direct or derivative—a potentially outcome-determinative issue—the Delaware Supreme Court overturned its own precedent in Gentile v. Rossette, 906 A.2d 91 (Del. 2006). More ›

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Chancery Addresses Indemnification Rights Following CEO’s Partial Success On Underlying Claims, Including Success Based on Technicalities


Evans v. Avande, Inc. , C. A. No. 2018-0454-LWW (Del. Ch. Sept. 23, 2021)
The departure of a company’s CEO was contentious. After his termination, the company filed an action in the Court of Chancery, alleging that the CEO had breached his duty of loyalty, sought a declaratory judgment that his removal was valid and effective, and further asserted claims for tortious interference, defamation, and conversion against the CEO. After trial, the Court concluded that the CEO had breached his duty of loyalty but that the company had failed to brief, and therefore had waived, its claims for declaratory judgment, tortious interference, defamation, and conversion. On the basis of mandatory indemnification rights in the company’s charter and bylaws, the CEO filed a complaint in the Court of Chancery seeking indemnification for his fees incurred defending against the company’s suit. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Claims Alleging Insider Trading and Misleading Disclosures for Failure to Plead Demand Futility


In re Zimmer Biomet Hldgs., Inc. Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2019-0455-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 25, 2021)
Under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, a stockholder-plaintiff may only bring a derivative suit on behalf of a company if the plaintiff (i) first makes a demand on the board to bring suit and is wrongfully refused, or (ii) adequately pleads that a demand would have been futile because the directors were incapable of impartially considering it. Here, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, because the stockholder-plaintiff failed to allege facts that a majority of the board of directors – who concededly were otherwise disinterested and independent – faced a substantial risk of personal liability. More ›

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Chancery Denies Motion to Dismiss, Awaits Development of Factual Record to Rule on Laches Defense

Posted In Chancery, Laches


Kim v. Coupang, LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0772-JRS (Del. Ch. Aug. 19, 2021)
If a court can rule on the affirmative defense of laches on the face of a complaint, it may grant a motion to dismiss.  As this case illustrates, however, when a laches defense cannot be determined from the complaint, resolving that defense may have to await the development of the factual record. 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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