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Summaries and analysis of recent Delaware court decisions concerning business-related litigation.
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Showing 13 posts by Meghan A. Adams.
Superior Court of Delaware CCLD Finds 6 Del. C. 1-308 Permits Parties to Reserve Their Rights Without Pleading Duress
In this decision by the Complex Commercial Litigation Division, the Court held, for the first time, that under 6 Del. C. 1-308, a party may make a payment with a reservation of rights under without having to plead duress. The Court held that this section was designed to permit parties to a contract – like the plaintiff here – to continue performance even while a dispute between parties is unresolved. In doing so, the Court held that Section 1-308 superseded the Supreme Court’s decision in Western Natural Gas Company v. Cities Service Gas Company, 201 A.2d 164 (Del. 1964) in that respect.
This is an important decision that applies recent United States Supreme Court jurisdiction cases to a non-resident’s Delaware complaint. While the opinion carefully reviews a string of such cases ending with Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California that is worth reading, the bottom line is that it holds that a non-resident of Delaware cannot bring a tort claim against a non-Delaware entity unless she can show its actions in Delaware that directly lead to her injury. This may effectively end the past practice of filing mass tort litigation in the Delaware Superior Court on behalf of non-residents of Delaware, at least against non-Delaware entities.
This is an excellent summary of the law governing the admissibility of an expert opinion. It is particularly useful in dealing with non-scientific opinions that are based on experience in an industry.
A claim for tortious interference with a contractual relationship must include an allegation that the conduct complained about was itself wrongful. This decision explains what is such “wrongful” conduct and concludes that the use of confidential information to contact a party to a contract to dissuade it from going forward is such wrongful conduct.
Under the Cryo-Maid decision, a forum non conveniens motion must consider the impact on a defendant forced to litigate in Delaware when discovery is needed in a foreign land. Here the Court considered the impact of the recent amendments to the Italian Data Protection Code on discovery and found that it did not impose an undue hardship under the facts present in this case. This may become more important as those European laws on privacy protection start to be considered for their effect on litigation outside of the EU.
This is an important decision because it upholds the right of an insurance company to recover defense costs it advanced when it is later determined there was no insurance coverage for the underlying litigation. While the opinion applies Tennessee law, some parts of the opinion suggest that the Court would reach the same result if Delaware law applied. That is so even though the Court recognized that permitting such a recovery is the minority positon in the United States. The opinion is also useful for its explanation of how an insurer may preserve its right to recover those advances by making it clear that it is advancing the costs subject to its right to recover them later if a court decides there was no insurance coverage.
It is not always clear when two agreements are to be read as one. This is because incorporating one agreement into a second agreement may not be explicit. This decision sets out the principles under Delaware law that govern how to decide if two agreements should be read together, including that there must be an “explicit manifestation of intent” to incorporate one document into another.
This is an interesting decision because it dismisses a counterclaim that is contradicted by the claimant’s answer to the complaint. Thus it goes beyond the normal rule that requires a factual pleading to be accepted as true when considering a motion to dismiss.
Contracts often use the word “including” as part of a definition of a term. But is that to limit or enlarge what that term means? This decision holds that “including” is a term of enlargement or extension when used that way and grants a partial summary judgment based on that interpretation.
Supreme Court of Delaware, Applying New York Law, finds that Settlement Amounts were not Uninsurable Disgorgement Under D&O Policies
The Supreme Court of Delaware affirmed the Superior Court’s finding that under the relevant D&O policies at issue, the settlement amounts TIAA-CREF paid to class action plaintiffs did not represent uninsurable disgorgement. In doing so, the Supreme Court distinguished certain cases from New York relied upon by the insurance companies that held settlements represented uninsurable disgorgement. Unlike the cases cited by the defendants, the settlement amounts at issue in the underlying cases here did not represent the return of ill-gotten gains. After this decision, whether or not a claim will be treated as uninsurable disgorgement should be an important consideration by defendants when deciding whether to settle merger objection litigation with a payment to the class.
This decision has an extensive discussion of when a Delaware court will stay a matter in favor of litigation in another forum. Its application of the McWane doctrine governing stays of second filed cases is particularly helpful. Under the circumstances of this case, a stay in favor of the foreign jurisdiction was warranted.
This decision explains when a fraud claim survives a motion to dismiss that is based on the argument that an integration clause in a contract precludes reliance on extra contractual representations. The short answer is that the contract must specifically deny reliance on those statements before the fraud claim is precluded.
This is an important insurance coverage decision. It upholds the claim of an insurer to bring a coverage suit to determine that a fraud exclusion applies to bar coverage on an underlying litigation that asserted a claim for fraud. This is important because fraud exclusions often depend on a finding in a final judgment of fraud by the insured in the underlying litigation. An insured may try to avoid such a judgment by settling and then asking the insurer to pay the settlement. See e.g. the decision in Arch Insurance Company v. Murdock, Del. Super. C.A. N16C-01-104 EMD (December 21, 2016), denying the use of a fraud exclusion when the underlying case was settled.