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R. Eric Hacker

Associate

Showing 64 posts by R. Eric Hacker.

In Recent Facebook Decisions, Chancery Permits Demand-Futility Plaintiffs to Proceed Before Demand-Refused Plaintiff


Feuer v. Zuckerberg, C.A. No. 2019-0324-JRS & In re Facebook, Inc. Deriv. Litig., Consol. C.A. 2018-0307 (Del. Ch. Oct. 5, 2021), rearg. denied (Del. Ch. Nov. 8, 2021)
Recent decisions in the Facebook derivative litigation addressed issues of case management where competing groups of derivative plaintiffs disagree about whether making a pre-litigation demand upon the board was futile, and where disputes are raised about whether the suits should be consolidated, and which theories should proceed first. More ›

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Chancery Examines Cornerstone Standard for Establishing Non-Exculpated Fiduciary Duty Claims


In Re BGC Partners, Inc. Derivative Litigation, Consol. C.A. No. 2018-0722-LWW (Del. Ch. Sep. 20, 2021)
A director protected by an exculpatory provision is entitled to dismissal in a breach of fiduciary duty action unless the plaintiff advances a non-exculpated claim. Under In re Cornerstone Therapeutics Inc. Shareholder Litigation, 115 A.3d 1173 (Del. 2015), to establish a non-exculpated claim plaintiff must show that a director: (1) “harbored self-interest adverse to the stockholders’ interests”; (2) “acted to advance the self-interest of an interested party from whom they could not be presumed to act independently”; or (3) “acted in bad faith.” This decision explains Cornerstone’s second prong. More ›

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Chancery Addresses When an Efforts Clause-Based Earnout Claim May Ripen

Posted In Chancery, Earn-Out, M&A


S’holder Representative Servs., LLC v. Alexion Pharm., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-1069-MTZ (Del. Ch. Sep. 1, 2021)
Mergers and sale agreements frequently include earn-out provisions that entitle one party to future compensation if certain business or financial goals are met within a defined period. In return, the other party often must use a defined level of effort—such as “commercially reasonable” efforts—to achieve the goals that trigger the earn-out. This case addresses a practical threshold question: If the party entitled to the earn-out believes that the other party has breached its duty to use commercially reasonable efforts, may that party sue immediately, or must that party wait until the earn-out period ends? More ›

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Chancery Enforces Parties’ Merger Agreement That Barred Claims Upon Termination of the Agreement


Yatra Online, Inc. v. Ebix, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0444-JRS (Del. Ch. Aug. 30, 2021)

Agreements frequently specify how the termination of the agreement affects the parties’ rights and obligations. This case illustrates that Delaware courts generally enforce “effect of termination” provisions in merger agreements as readily as any other contract provision. More ›

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Company Did Not Breach Mandatory Redemption Provision Where Special Committee Determined Company Lacked Funds To Redeem All Preferred Shares


Cont’l Investors Fund LLC v. TradingScreen, Inc., C.A. No. 10164-VCL (Del. Ch. July 23, 2021)
A holder of preferred stock often possesses redemption rights that permit the stockholder to require a company to repurchase the stockholder’s shares. But what happens if the company determines that it lacks the funds to repurchase the stock? As illustrated in this case, a stockholder challenging the determination bears the burden of proof to show that the company’s determination was improper. More ›

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Chancery Permits Service By Email Upon Singaporean Defendants


Skye Mineral Investors, LLC v. DXS Capital (U.S.) Ltd., C.A. No. 2018-0059-JRS (Del. Ch. Jul. 15, 2021).
Delaware’s long-arm statute permits service of process on a foreign defendant by personal service, by mail with signed return receipt, by means authorized by the foreign jurisdiction where service is to occur, or “[a]s directed by a court.” 10 Del. C. § 3104(d). In this decision, the Court of Chancery confirms that each of the grounds is an independent basis for effecting service, and alternative methods of service are appropriate so long as they are “reasonably calculated to give actual notice.” More ›

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Chancery Explains Pleading Standard and Sustains Unjust Enrichment Claim Related to Plaintiff’s Forfeiture of LLC Acquisition Rights


Angel v. Warrior Met Coal, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0235-SG (Del. Ch. Jun. 30, 2021)

Under Delaware’s notice pleading standard, a plaintiff’s claim will survive a motion to dismiss if it is “reasonably conceivable” that the plaintiff might prevail. The Court here explained that test is whether a “claim’s success seems possible to a rational objective observer.” Notwithstanding this plaintiff-friendly standard, Delaware courts will dismiss a claim if a plaintiff fails to plead all necessary elements. More ›

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Chancery Finds Breach of Fiduciary Duty Where Defendant Resorted to Extra-Contractual Self-Help


Macrophage Therapeutics, Inc. v. Goldberg, C.A. No. 2019-0137-JRS (Del. Ch. Jun. 23, 2021) (Post-trial Memorandum Opinion)

Macrophage Therapeutics, Inc. v. Goldberg, C.A. No. 2019-0137-JRS (Del. Ch. Jun. 23, 2021) (Letter Opinion)
Delaware law provides several remedies for a party who believes that a contractual breach has occurred. But extra-contractual self-help is usually not one. As this case demonstrates, the choice to seek direct retribution, rather than legal recourse, may constitute a breach of a director’s duty of loyalty. A related decision also considered and rejected the argument that formal board authorization was needed for a corporation to commence litigation.  More ›

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Chancery Rejects Plaintiff’s Attempt to Recharacterize Pre-Suit Demands


The Raj & Sonal Abhyanker Fam. Tr. v. Blake, C.A. No. 2020-0521-KSJM (June 17, 2021)
Court of Chancery Rule 23.1 presents a would-be derivative plaintiff with two exclusive options: make a pre-suit demand on the board to bring the claims at issue, or bring the claims and plead demand futility. A stockholder who elects to make a demand on the board may challenge whether the board wrongly refused the demand, but the stockholder cannot later bring suit and allege demand futility. And, as this case shows, the Court of Chancery will scrutinize a stockholder’s attempt to circumvent this restriction. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Simultaneously-Filed Delaware Action in Favor of New Jersey Action


Sweeney v. RPD Holdgs. Grp., LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0813-SG (Del. Ch. May 27, 2021)
Delaware’s forum non conveniens jurisprudence typically turns on when parties file competing actions. Under Cryo-Maid’s “overwhelming hardship” standard, a defendant seeking to stay a first-filed Delaware action in favor of litigation elsewhere must show that the six so-called Cryo-Maid factors tip overwhelmingly in the defendant’s favor. By contrast, under McWane’s less onerous discretionary standard, a defendant seeking to stay a later-filed Delaware action often succeeds if the defendant can point to foreign litigation between the same parties in a forum that can do prompt and complete justice. More ›

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Chancery Clarifies When Related Agreements Will Be Construed Together


Murphy Marine Services of Delaware, Inc. v. GT USA Wilmington, LLC (Del. Ch. May 28, 2021)
When interpreting a contract, Delaware courts generally stick to the four corners of the agreement at issue. One exception is when a contract is part of a set of inseparable agreements. In that situation, courts may construe all the agreements together as a whole. But, as seen here, the exception may not apply if the contract at issue independently effectuates the parties’ intent and does not expressly incorporate the other. More ›

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Delaware Court of Chancery Applies Direct/Derivative Distinction In Voting Context


Clifford Paper, Inc. v. WPP Investors, LLC, 2021 WL 2211694 (Del. Ch. Jun. 1, 2021)
The disenfranchisement of an investor with voting or consent rights often is considered to be a direct harm, thus permitting the investor to bring direct claims. Sometimes, however, the alleged harm from the violation of voting rights is to the company, and it does not directly affect the investor. The Court of Chancery’s recent decision in Clifford Paper, Inc. v. WPP Investors, LLC, 2021 WL 2211694 (Del. Ch. Jun. 1, 2021), illustrates that, in such instances, a court applying Delaware law may treat those claims as derivative. More ›

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Chancery Declines to Enforce Forum Selection Provision Actively Hidden From Defendant During Transaction


UBEO Holdings, LLC et al. v. Drakulic, C.A. No. 2020-0669-KSJM (Del. Ch. Apr. 30, 2021)
Generally, Delaware courts will enforce the terms an executed agreement, even against a party claiming not to have read the terms before signing. This rule applies with full force to forum selection provisions in which a contracting party consents to jurisdiction in a particular forum. As this case shows, however, rare exceptions exist. More ›

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Chancery Rules Corporation Cannot Offset Wife’s Recoupment Against Husband’s Advancement Simply Because the Pair Signed a Single Undertaking


Perryman v. Stimwave Tech. Inc., C.A. 2020-0079-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 15, 2021)
Section 145 of DGCL permits corporations to grant advancement rights to persons who may be entitled to indemnification so that they may fund covered litigation costs pending indemnification. As part of this right, the DGCL also requires these individuals to undertake to repay the corporation if the advanced expenses ultimately prove not to be indemnifiable. In this case, the Court clarifies that two individuals who are married and execute the same undertaking nonetheless retain their individual rights to advancement and separate obligations for repaying any non-indemnifiable expenses. More ›

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Chancery Enjoins Prosecution of Fraudulent Inducement and Declaratory Judgment Claims Based on Exclusive Delaware Forum Provision


SPay, Inc. v. Stack Media Inc. k/n/a JLC2011, Inc., et al., CA No. 2020-0540-JRS (Del. Ch. Mar. 23, 2021)
To obtain a preliminary anti-suit injunction, a movant must show (1) a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits, (2) irreparable harm absent an injunction, and (3) the balance of hardships tips in its favor. Although the Court of Chancery does not grant anti-suit injunctions lightly, it will do so when a party to a valid and absolutely clear forum selection clause attempts to litigate covered claims outside of the parties’ chosen forum. More ›

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ehacker@morrisjames.com
T 302.856.0023
Eric Hacker helps businesses and individuals with a broad range of Delaware legal matters. He practices primarily within the firm's Business Litigation and Business Law Counseling …
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