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Kuhu Parasrampuria

Attorney

Showing 38 posts by Kuhu Parasrampuria.

Chancery Lacks Jurisdiction to Grant Injunction While Superior Court Appeal Is Pending


Vama F.Z. Co. v. WS02, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0141-JRS (Del. Ch. Mar. 29, 2021)
This case illustrates that the Court of Chancery lacks subject matter jurisdiction to issue an injunction pending appeal of another court’s rulings, and where the plaintiff has adequate remedies at law.  More ›

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Chancery Finds SEC’s Filing of an Enforcement Action Did Not Trigger Redemption Right

Tetragon Fin. Grp. Ltd. v. Ripple Labs Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0007-MTZ (Del. Ch. Mar. 19, 2021)

Plaintiff Tetragon Financial Group Limited is a shareholder of Ripple Labs, Inc., a blockchain company that uses a cryptocurrency called XRP. Tetragon had a right under a Stockholders’ Agreement to require Ripple to redeem its shares if the SEC or another government agency “determine[s] on an official basis” that XRP is a security “on a current and going forward basis.” Here, Tetragon sought a declaration that the SEC’s decisions to file an enforcement action in federal District Court, and issue a Wells Notice, each triggered the redemption right. More ›

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Superior Court Finds Securities Lawsuits Do Not Fall within Relatedness Exclusion of Insurance Policy

Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Company, C.A. No. N18C-09-210 (Del. Super. Ct. Feb. 2, 2021)

This case arises from an insurance coverage dispute between an insured and multiple insurance providers in a policy tower for defense fees and settlement costs from two securities class action lawsuits. In the Complex Commercial Litigation Division of the Superior Court, the insurers argued that they were not obligated to reimburse losses arising from the two securities lawsuits because of, inter alia, an exclusion regarding the “relatedness” of Wrongful Acts. Under Delaware law, the exception to coverage because of the “relatedness” of Wrongful Acts only applies “where the two underlying claims are fundamentally identical.” The Court held that the exception did not apply in this case simply because the securities lawsuits involved the same wrongdoers and the same transaction, among other things. Instead, the fact that there were variations in the mens rea, motive, burdens of proof, the timing and other factors, suggested that the securities lawsuits did not involve the exact same subject. Accordingly, the Court found that the two claims were not “related” and the relatedness exclusion did not apply.

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Chancery Grants Access to Facebook Board Emails in Books and Records Action

Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island v. Facebook, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0085-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 10, 2021)

In this opinion, the Court of Chancery confirms that it will grant access to emails in a books and records action where the corporation’s board minutes and other materials are insufficient for the plaintiff’s purposes. Here, a stockholder of Facebook, Inc. requested books and records to investigate Facebook’s $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for the unauthorized sale of customer information to Cambridge Analytica and other data breaches. The plaintiff sought to investigate whether Facebook overpaid in its settlement to shield its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg from personal liability.  More ›

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Delaware Choice of Law Provision in Stock Purchase Agreement Does Not Eliminate Claim for Fraud under California Securities Act

Swipe Acquisition Corp. v. Krauss, C.A. No. 2019-0509-PAF (Del. Ch. Jan. 28, 2021)

This decision concerned a motion to dismiss a claim for fraud under the California Securities Act, which the defendants argued was waived by a choice of law provision in the parties’ stock purchase agreement (“SPA”) indicating that “all claims or causes of action (whether in contract, tort or statute) that may be based upon, arise out of or relate to this Agreement or the negotiation, execution or performance of this Agreement … shall be governed by, and enforced in accordance with, the internal laws of the State of Delaware, including its statutes of limitations.” More ›

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Chancery Finds That Delaware’s Trade Secrets Statute Preempts Unjust Enrichment Claim for Same Alleged Misconduct

250ok, Inc. v. Message Sys., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0588-JRS (Del. Ch. Jan. 22, 2021)

This decision clarifies the scope of preemption of common law claims under the Delaware Uniform Trade Secret Act (“DUTSA”). Plaintiff asserted both a claim under the DUTSA and a claim for unjust enrichment, where both claims arose from the same alleged misconduct. The Court of Chancery concluded that a trade secret claim under the DUTSA “occupies the field” and preempts a claim for common law unjust enrichment. Applying Delaware precedent on the issue, the Court explained that preemption applies not just to tort-based claims, but to any “alternative common law claims.” And, as previous decisions have held, preemption applies at the dismissal stage even though the Court may later find that the DUTSA does not protect the information at issue. Accordingly, the Court of Chancery dismissed the unjust enrichment claim.

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Superior Court Dismisses Tortious Interference with Contract Claim against Corporate Officer

American Bottling Co. v. Repole, C.A. No. N19C-03-048 AML CCLD (Del. Super. Dec. 30, 2020)

This case illustrates that a Delaware court will dismiss a claim against an officer for tortious interference with a contract to which his or her company is a party unless a plaintiff can assert non-conclusory allegations that the officer acted outside the scope of his or her agency. In this case, the plaintiff and defendant-company were parties to a distribution agreement. The plaintiff brought a claim for tortious interference with contract against the CEO and chairman of the defendant-company claiming that the CEO terminated the agreement to enrich himself and his management team to the detriment of the plaintiff.  More ›

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Chancery Grants Books and Records Mismanagement Inspection Related to Rejected Financing Proposal Despite Potential Lack of Actionable Claim

Alexandria Venture Investments LLC v. Verseau Therapeutics Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0593-PAF (Del. Ch. Dec. 18, 2020)

This case highlights that the potential lack of an actionable claim generally is not a valid defense to a demand for books and records where the stockholder meets the low threshold of proving a credible basis to suspect wrongdoing. Plaintiffs sought to compel inspection of books and records of Verseau Therapeutics, Inc. (“Verseau”), pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, to investigate whether Verseau’s directors violated their fiduciary duties by rejecting a financing proposal (made by the plaintiffs) to favor the interests of certain directors and affiliates. Verseau objected, arguing in part that plaintiffs did not have a credible basis to suspect wrongdoing because a majority of independent and disinterested Verseau directors had made all relevant decisions.  More ›

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Chancery Upholds Claim that CEO Breached Her Duty of Care Relating to a Misleading Proxy Statement

City of Warren General Employees’ Retirement System v. Roche, C.A. No. 2019-0740-PAF (Del. Ch. Nov. 30, 2020)

This case illustrates that an officer’s support for a sale of the corporation does not trigger the “entire fairness” standard where a majority of the members of the board of directors are not alleged to have been interested or lacked independence, and the plaintiff’s allegations otherwise do not support that the officer deceived the board. As also illustrated here, however, materially incomplete or inaccurate disclosures in a proxy statement may state a non-exculpated claim against officers for a breach of the duty of care. More ›

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Chancery Sustains Complaint for Breach of Fiduciary Duty against Viacom Controllers

In re Viacom Inc. Stockholders Litig., C.A. No. 2019-0948-JRS (Del. Ch. Dec. 29, 2020), as corrected (Dec. 30, 2020)

This case exemplifies that the Court of Chancery will review a transaction under the entire fairness standard where a controller receives a non-ratable benefit and the controller fails to condition the transaction on the approval of a special committee and of a majority of the disinterested minority stockholders. Plaintiffs, minority stockholders of Viacom International (“Viacom”), sued Shari Redstone, her corporate entities (together with Ms. Redstone, the “Controllers”), and Viacom directors that were allegedly loyal to Ms. Redstone. Ms. Redstone indirectly controls both Viacom and CBS Corporation (“CBS”). Among other things, the plaintiffs contended that the Controllers breached their fiduciary duties in causing the merger between Viacom and CBS on terms beneficial to the Controllers but detrimental to Viacom’s public stockholders.   More ›

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Chancery Grants Leave to Move for Fees for Overly Aggressive Books and Records Defenses

Pettry v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0132-KSJM (Del. Ch. Nov. 24, 2020)

This case illustrates that the Court of Chancery will not accept overly aggressive defenses to books and records actions and may grant fees to discourage such tactics. Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law permits a stockholder plaintiff who has a “credible basis” to suspect wrongdoing by officers and directors to demand inspection of books and records relating to that misconduct. In this case, plaintiff-stockholders of Gilead Sciences, Inc. (“Gilead”) sought to inspect Gilead’s books and records to investigate misconduct. Gilead was subject to numerous lawsuits and government investigations arising out of alleged anticompetitive conduct, mass torts, breach of patents, and false claims relating to the development and marketing of its HIV drugs. The plaintiffs sought books and records about Gilead’s (1) anticompetitive agreements, (2) policies and procedures, (3) senior management materials, (4) communications with the government, and (5) director questionnaires. Gilead refused to produce any documents, even though the plaintiffs had a credible basis to suspect wrongdoing and the records they sought related directly to the misconduct. The Court of Chancery found that “Gilead exemplified the trend of overly aggressive litigation strategies by blocking legitimate discovery, misrepresenting the record, and taking positions for no apparent purpose other than obstructing the exercise of Plaintiffs’ statutory rights.” The Court, therefore, granted plaintiffs leave to move for fee shifting.  More ›

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CCLD Holds Indemnification Provision Does Not Cover First-Party Claims

Ashland LLC v. Samuel J. Heyman 1981 Continuing Trust for Lazarus S. Heyman, C.A. No. N15C-10-176 EMD CCLD (Del. Super. Ct. Nov. 10, 2020)

This case illustrates that Delaware courts will follow the “American Rule” that parties must pay their own legal fees unless they otherwise agree. In this case, the parties’ Stock Purchase Agreement (“SPA”) required defendants to indemnify against “Losses” – which was defined to include reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses. The Court previously had found that the defendants breached a section of the SPA. Plaintiff then sought to recover as “Losses” its attorneys’ fees and expenses in proving the breach. The Court reasoned that indemnification provisions are presumed not to provide for fee-shifting in claims between the parties (first-party claims) absent a clear and unequivocal articulation of that intent. While there is no specific language that must be used, the SPA here contained a separate, relatively straightforward and narrower prevailing party fee-shifting provision, which did not apply to the claims at issue. Because the indemnification provision did not clearly support fee-shifting for first-party claims, and because the plaintiff was not entitled to attorneys’ fees based on the straightforward fee-shifting provision to which the parties had agreed, the Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment that plaintiff was not entitled to recover its attorneys’ fees and expenses under the indemnification provision.

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Enforcing a “Draconian” Bargain, Chancery Grants Motion to Dismiss Claims Arising from Right to Repurchase Interest Upon Termination

Moscowitz v. Theory Entertainment LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0780-MTZ (Del. Ch. Oct. 28, 2020)
This case illustrates that the Court will enforce parties’ agreements even if they reflect a bad bargain for one party. Plaintiff Todd Moscowitz, a co-founder of Theory Entertainment LLC (“Theory” or the “Company”), resigned from Theory without giving prior notice, which triggered a “for cause” termination provision under agreements he had entered into with the Company. The termination provision allowed Theory to repurchase Moscowitz’s entire equity stake for a fraction of its value. To avoid that potential outcome, Plaintiff’s resignation notice contained language purporting to preserve his membership interest in Theory and to render his resignation void ab initio if a court were later to determine otherwise. More ›

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High Court Affirms Deal Price Was Reliable Indicator of Fair Value Despite Flawed Process

Brigade Leveraged Capital Structures Fund Ltd. v. Stillwater Mining Co., C.A. No. 427, 2019 (Del. Oct. 12, 2020)

This case illustrates that, notwithstanding a flawed process for the sale of a company, the deal price may still provide a reliable indicator of the fair value of shares in an appraisal action. Petitioners had contended that the Court of Chancery abused its discretion in upholding a rushed sale process and in failing to make an upward adjustment to the deal price based on an increase in the company’s value post-signing. More ›

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Chancery Rejects Conspiracy Jurisdiction Over Foreign Defendant

Lacey v. Mota-Velasco, C.A. No. 2019-312-SG (Del. Ch. Oct. 6, 2020)

Under Istituto Bancario, a foreign defendant alleged to be part of a conspiracy may be subject to personal jurisdiction in Delaware, but only if the plaintiff alleges, among other requirements, and consistent with the Delaware long-arm statute and due process, an act in Delaware in furtherance of the conspiracy. Conspiracy jurisdiction is not an independent basis of jurisdiction but rather provides a framework by which the Delaware courts evaluate whether there are sufficient minimum contacts to justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction.  More ›

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kparasrampuria@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6812
Kuhu Parasrampuria focuses her practice on counseling and litigation involving corporations and other business entities formed under Delaware law. Prior to joining Morris …
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