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Kirsten A. Zeberkiewicz

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Showing 31 posts by Kirsten A. Zeberkiewicz.

Chancery Holds That Claim Based on Purposeful Tanking of Merger Agreement Earnout Is Breach of Contract Claim


Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertson’s Companies, C.A. No. 2020-0710-JRS (Del. Ch. June 7, 2021)

Many merger agreements include earnout provisions under which the stockholders in the acquired company are entitled to additional consideration upon the occurrence of certain financial milestones. In this case, the Court of Chancery analyzed and considered the appropriate way to plead claims that the acquirer purposefully operated the company to miss earnout milestones. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Explains Delaware’s Intermediate Forum Non Conveniens Standard Under Gramercy


GXP Capital, LLC v. Argonaut Manufacturing Services, Inc. et al
., Nos. 247, 2020 and 248, 2020 (Del. May, 20, 2021)
Delaware has three standards for forum non conveniens motions. The two more commonly addressed are Cryo-Maid, which favors first-filed Delaware actions, and McWane, which favors first-filed litigation pending elsewhere. The third standard, Gramercy, consists of neutrally balancing the well-established forum non conveniens factors as between a later-filed Delaware action and another available forum. This decision clarifies Gramercy in the context of a Delaware action stayed in favor of an available alternate jurisdiction where no action was yet pending. More ›

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Chancery Orders Specific Performance of Deal, Despite Lack of Debt Financing, Finding that COVID-Related Business Decline Was Not an MAE and Seller’s Cost-Cutting Efforts Were Not Breaches of the “Ordinary Course” Covenant


Snow Phipps Grp., LLC v. KCake Acquisition, Inc., 2020-0282-KSJM (Del. Ch. Apr. 30, 2021)
In Snow Phipps, the Court of Chancery refused to allow a private equity buyer with pandemic-related cold feet to back out of its bargained for agreement to purchase DecoPac, a cake decorating company. In ordering specific performance, the Court found: (1) the durationally insignificant COVID-related business decline did not constitute a material adverse effect (“MAE”); (2) the seller had not violated any of its covenants to operate in the ordinary course by attempting to mitigate business losses; and (3) the condition to closing that the buyer secure debt financing was excused under the prevention doctrine, because the buyer’s actions caused the condition not to be satisfied. More ›

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Chancery Refuses to Enforce Alleged Contractual Rights Not Obtained at the “Negotiating Table”


Obsidian Fin. Grp., LLC v. Identity Theft Guard Solutions, Inc., C.A. No: 2020-0485-JRS (Del. Ch. Apr. 22, 2021)
Delaware is “more contractarian” than many other jurisdictions. Accordingly, as this case illustrates, a court applying Delaware law will respect parties’ contractual choices and will not enforce alleged contractual rights not reflected in the plain language of the agreement. More ›

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Chancery Confirms the Challenges in Pleading Caremark and Non-Shareholder Action Disclosure Claims


Fisher v. Sanborn, C.A. No. 2019-0631-AGB (Del. Ch. Mar. 30, 2021)

Under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, a plaintiff attempting to bring a derivative action on behalf of a corporation faces a heightened “particularized” pleading standard. This pleading challenge is compounded when a plaintiff attempts to bring a Caremark failure of oversight claim – “possibly the most difficult theory in corporate law.” Similarly, a plaintiff alleging false or misleading disclosures not made in connection with soliciting shareholder action faces the additional pleading challenge of demonstrating that those disclosures were knowing or deliberate. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Unripe Contribution Claim but Finds That Corporate Director and Officer Adequately Pled Right to Indemnification Following Merger


Wunderlich v. B. Riley Fin., Inc. et al., C.A. No: 2020-0453-PAF (Del. Ch. Mar. 24, 2021)

Delaware corporations may provide indemnification rights to their directors and officers either through the corporation’s organizational documents or by separate agreements. This case concerned the survival and scope of these rights following a merger. More ›

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Chancery Denies Claim Arising Out of Controller’s Announced Intention to Oppose a Transaction Unfavorable to His Interests


RCS Creditor Trust v. Schorsch et al., C.A. No: 2017-0178-SG (Del. Ch. Mar. 18, 2021)
Controlling shareholders of a Delaware corporation owe fiduciaries duties, but those duties do not require controllers to sacrifice contract rights or to vote altruistically. In the Court of Chancery’s recent decision in RCS Creditor Trust v. Schorsch et al., the Court affirmed this proposition, holding that where a special committee and its review process were otherwise independent, a controlling shareholder did not breach his fiduciary duties or improperly influence the committee by sharing how he planned to vote in connection with two proposed, competing transactions. More ›

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Chancery Finds Implied-in-Fact LLC Agreement

Posted In Chancery, LLCs

Robinson v. Darbeau, C.A. No: 2019-0853-KSJM (Del. Ch. Mar. 1, 2021)

As Robinson v. Darbeau demonstrates, Delaware law recognizes implied limited liability company agreements. Plaintiff operated a daycare as a sole proprietor and without any formally organized business entity. After Plaintiff began a personal relationship with Defendant, Defendant became involved in day-to-day activities at the daycare, invested in the business (including through the co-purchase of the property where the daycare was operated) and was held out publicly as the daycare’s co-director. Through the use of an online incorporator, and with Defendant’s assistance, Plaintiff filed a certificate of formation for a Delaware limited liability company. The certificate listed both parties as members (allegedly without Plaintiff’s knowledge) and further provided that management of the company was vested in the members. No written LLC agreement was ever executed. More ›

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Superior Court Addresses Scope of Privilege Waiver in Dispute Involving The American Bottling Company, Coke, and Bodyarmor

The American Bottling Co. v. BA Sports Nutrition, LLC et. al, C.A. No: N19C-03-048-AML CCLD (Del. Super. Feb. 11, 2021)

Delaware courts generally uphold the attorney-client privilege, including by recognizing waivers that are limited in scope. But they also police selective disclosures to ensure fairness using doctrines like the “partial waiver doctrine,” under which a partial disclosure of a privileged communication may waive privilege as to the entire communication, and the “at issue” exception, under which privilege may be waived by injecting a particular privileged communication or broader issue into the litigation. Applying these doctrines in The American Bottling Company decision, the Delaware Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division defined the scope of a party’s tactical waiver broader than that party contended was appropriate. More ›

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Chancery Applies Forum Non Conveniens Analysis to Grant Partial Stay of Dispute Between LLCs and Former Manager

AG Resource Holdings, LLC v. Thomas Badford Terral, C.A. No. 2020-0850-JRS (Feb. 10, 2021)

In AG Resource, the Court of Chancery was tasked with determining whether it or a Louisiana state court should resolve similar claims filed at nearly the same time in each forum. Affording neither suit first-filed status, the Court applied a forum non conveniens analysis using the Cryo-Maid factors and split the claims, finding that Louisiana had a greater interest in resolving claims relating to provisions in an employment agreement, but Delaware had a greater interest in resolving a claim implicating the internal affairs of a Delaware LLC. More ›

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Party Uniquely Escapes An Arbitration Provision, While The Court Reminds Us That Bootstrapped Fraud Claims Are Impermissible In Delaware

Posted In Arbitration, CCLD, Fraud, M&A

AluminumSource, LLC v. LLFlex, LLC, C.A. No: N18C-07-231-EMD CCLD (Del. Super. Jan. 21, 2021)

Delaware courts commonly enforce (and support) arbitration provisions, submitting disputes under the governing contract to a third-party neutral. Equally common is the dismissal by Delaware courts of fraud claims “bootstrapped” to a breach of contract based on allegations that a contracting party never intended to perform its obligations. This recent decision from the Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division is the unique case where, on the first issue, an arbitration provision was found unenforceable due to impossibility of performance. On the second issue, this case confirms settled law that bootstrapped fraud claims are impermissible in Delaware. More ›

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Chancery Addresses Standing Defense And Control Allegations In Abandoned Tender Offer Dispute

In re WeWork Litig., C.A. No. 2020-0258-AGB (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2020)

This decision is the companion to another dismissal opinion in same case of the same date and arising out of the same abandoned multi-step tender offer transaction between WeCompany (“WeWork” or the “Company”) and SoftBank Group Corp. and Vision Fund (AIV M1) L.P. (together, “Softbank”). A summary of the companion opinion is available hereMore ›

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Chancery Resolves Dispute Between Competing Special Committees, Finding Second Committee Could Not Voluntarily Dismiss Suit Brought By The First Committee Under The Zapata Framework

In re WeWork Litigation, C.A. No. 2020-0258-AGB (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2020)

This decision addresses a matter of first impression arising out of a dispute pitting two special committees of the same company, WeCompany (“WeWork” or the “Company”), against one another over control of a lawsuit on the Company’s behalf. The lawsuit involved claims against the Company’s putative controlling shareholders, SoftBank Group Corp. and SoftBank Vision Fund (AIV MI) L.P. (together, “SoftBank”), for abandoning a multi-step agreement by which SoftBank committed to a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork’s shares in addition to providing equity and debt financing (the “Transaction”). The same two-member committee that negotiated the Transaction on the Company’s behalf (the “Transaction Committee”), initiated the lawsuit with the support of the Company’s management (including WeWork’s Chief Legal Officer) as well as the Company’s outside counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (“Skadden”) More ›

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Chancery Dismisses First-Filed Action Involving Delaware Choice of Law and Forum Selection Clause for Forum Non Conveniens

Focus Fin. Partners, LLC v. Holsopple, C.A. No. 2020-0188-JTL (Del. Ch. Nov. 2, 2020)

Defendant moved on forum non conveniens grounds to dismiss an action brought by a recent hire’s former employer to enforce various provisions in an employment agreement, including restrictive covenants. The plaintiff had filed suit in Delaware five days prior to the former employee and his new employer filing suit in California for declarations that the restrictive covenants were invalid and unenforceable under California law.  More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Action for Failure to Plead Demand Futility Despite Unocal Enhanced Scrutiny

Gottlieb v. Duskin, C.A. No. 2019-0639-MTZ (Del. Ch. Nov. 20, 2020)

Defendants moved to dismiss a derivative action for failure to plead demand futility under Rule 23.1. The complaint alleged that the director defendants had breached their fiduciary duties by engaging in a scheme to thwart an unsolicited offer to purchase the company at a premium. In a previous ruling, the Court found that the plaintiff had adequately pled facts that triggered Unocal enhanced scrutiny. Nonetheless, the Court held that, even with the application of Unocal scrutiny, the plaintiff failed to plead facts that would establish that demand was futile.  More ›

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kzeberkiewicz@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6850
Kirsten Zeberkiewicz focuses her practice on litigation involving corporations and alternative entities formed under Delaware law.   Kirsten handles corporate governance and …
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