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Lewis H. Lazarus

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Showing 115 posts by Lewis H. Lazarus.

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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Chancery Appoints Amicus Curaie to Provide Independent Guidance Regarding Unopposed Petition to Revive Defunct Corporation for Use as a Blank Check Entity

Posted In Chancery, Custodians

In re Forum Mobile, Inc., C.A. 2020-0346-JTL (Del. Ch. Mar. 18, 2021)

The Court of Chancery has the inherent authority to appoint an amicus curaie if the Court believes it would benefit from a more fulsome presentation of the issues. This case presents that situation: an unopposed petition seeking relief that, on its face, appears contrary to the Court’s prior decisions and to Delaware’s public policy. More ›

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Chancery Holds Prior Rulings in Appraisal and Securities Litigation Do Not Bar New Columbia Pipeline Fiduciary Duty Action


In re Columbia Pipeline Group, Inc. Merger Litigation, C.A. No. 2018-0484-JTL (Del. Ch. Mar. 1, 2021)
Certain judicial doctrines, including collateral estoppel and stare decisis, promote efficiency and finality by barring the re-litigation of factual and legal issues. For these doctrines to apply, however, there must be overlap between the parties, the claims or the legal posture. This case demonstrates that, without such overlap, courts will permit subsequent claims even when the underlying transaction has already been the subject of significant prior litigation. More ›

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Chancery Allows McDonald’s to Pursue Claims Against Ex-CEO, Finding Separation Agreement’s Integration Clause Does Not Bar Them

Posted In Chancery, Fraud

McDonald’s Corp. v. Easterbrook, C.A. 2020-0658-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 2, 2021)

Delaware has a strong public policy against fraud. Consequently, parties who seek to bar extra-contractual fraud claims must expressly provide in their agreement that neither is relying upon the other party’s extra-contractual representations. As this case confirms, a standard integration clause, without clear anti-reliance language, is insufficient to bar such claims. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Concludes Out-of-Pocket Damages Are the Default Remedy for Fraudulent Misrepresentation Absent an Enforceable Agreement

LCT Capital, LLC v. NGL Energy Partners, LLP, App. Nos. 565,2019 & 568,2019 (Del. Jan. 28, 2021)

Delaware law recognizes both benefit-of-the-bargain damages and out-of-pocket damages as remedies for fraudulent misrepresentation, but the law was unsettled whether benefit-of-the-bargain damages were available absent an enforceable agreement. Here, the Delaware Supreme Court confirms that out-of-pocket damages are the default remedy in the absence of an agreement. More ›

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Delaware Corporate and Commercial Case Law Year in Review: 2020

This top ten list summarizes significant decisions of the Delaware Supreme Court and the Delaware Court of Chancery over the past calendar year. Our criteria for selection are that the decision either meaningfully changed Delaware law or provided clarity or guidance on issues relevant to corporate and commercial litigation in Delaware. We present the decisions in no particular order. The list does not include every significant decision, but provides practitioners with an array of decisions on varied issues likely to affect business transactions or business litigation. More ›

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Chancery Modifies Confidentiality Order to Permit Assertion of Plenary Claims in Appraisal Action

Harris v. Harris FRC Corp., C.A. No. 2019-0736-JTL (Del. Ch. Jan. 7, 2021)
Under Rule 5.1, the Court of Chancery may enter a confidentiality order upon a showing of good cause that such an order is necessary to protect against disclosure of sensitive, non-public information. But Rule 5.1 does not set an express standard for later modification of the order. In this case, the Court of Chancery clarified that the standard for modifying a confidentiality order is the same as for entering one: good cause shown, taking into account related factors including the parties’ reliance on the existing order and the potential prejudice from modification. More ›

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7 Takeaways From Recent Del. Statutory Appraisal Litigation

Statutory appraisal remains an active area of litigation in Delaware, notwithstanding recent legislation1 designed to reduce appraisal arbitrage and judicial decisions that established a prominent role for market-based evidence.

This article distills important considerations for practitioners and their clients from the 2020 appraisal decisions of the Delaware Supreme Court and Delaware Court of Chancery.
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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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llazarus@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6970
Lewis Lazarus focuses his practice on corporate governance and commercial matters in the Delaware Court of Chancery. He has been lead counsel in trials arising out of mergers and …
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