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Sarah Ennis

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Showing 8 posts by Sarah Ennis.

Chancery Decides Scope of Expert’s Authority in Valuation Dispute Resolution Mechanism


Paul v. Rockpoint Group LLC, C.A. 2018-0907-JTL (Del. Ch. Jan. 29, 2024)
This dispute arose from a disagreement over the authority of an appraiser to include legal assertions and extrinsic evidence in his valuation. The underlying dispute stemmed from the departure of a co-founder from a limited liability company. The parties' LLC Agreement established a dispute resolution mechanism to determine the value of the co-founder's share if a subsequent qualifying transaction occurred. More ›

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Chancery Declines to Shift Costs to Derivative Plaintiffs


In re Oracle Corp. Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 28, 2023)
By rule, the prevailing party in Court of Chancery litigation is entitled to shift costs to the losing party, subject to the Court’s discretion. Here, in an unordinary derivative action, the Court declined to shift the costs of the prevailing individual defendants to the derivative plaintiffs. The plaintiffs had overcome a motion to dismiss, which led to the appointment of a special litigation committee by the company’s board. While the special committee had the power to seek dismissal, the committee determined that the derivative plaintiffs should be allowed to prosecute the claims on the company’s behalf. The plaintiffs ultimately lost after trial. As a result, the individual defendants were entitled to indemnification by the company, including for costs. The Court cited these circumstances as grounds for invoking equity to decline shifting costs via rule to the derivative plaintiffs.

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Chancery Awards Mootness Fee Applying Recently Adopted Standard


Assad v. Botha, et al., C.A. No. 2022-0691-LWW (Del. Ch. Oct. 30, 2023)
Here, Vice Chancellor Will awarded a $100,000 mootness fee for “material—and unremarkable—disclosures” following the recently heightened mootness fee standard announced in Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc. (analyzed here), authored by Chancellor McCormick.  Magellan announced that the Court would award mootness fees for supplemental disclosure only where such disclosures are “material,” not merely “helpful,” and such fees, if awarded, may be lower than those awarded historically. This opinion represents one of the first decisions applying Magellan, and awarded $100,000 where plaintiffs sought $850,000. 

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Chancery Upholds Removal of Board Members


Barbey v. Cerego, Inc., C.A. No. 2022-0107-PAF (Del. Ch. Sept. 29, 2023)
This decision considered the proper constitution of the board of directors of a Delaware corporation, Cerego, Inc., under Section 225 of the DGCL after directors were removed following a corporate inversion whereby Cerego became a subsidiary of its wholly owned subsidiary, Cerego Japan, Inc. (“CJ”), a Japanese entity. More ›

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Chancery Refuses to Enforce Nationwide Noncompete


Centurion Service Group, LLC v. Wilensky, C.A. No. 2023-0422-MTZ (Del. Ch. Aug. 31, 2023)
In Frontline Techs Parent LLC v. Murphy, C.A. 2023-0546-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 23, 2023), the Court of Chancery recently declined a subsidiary’s attempt to enforce a non-compete provision benefitting the parent. A week later, in Centurion, the Court likewise declined to enforce a non-compete, this time based on its unreasonably broad scope. Though the Court ultimately applied a Delaware choice-of-law provision, Centurion highlights that Delaware courts do not blindly apply such clauses “when doing so would circumvent the public policy of another state that has a greater interest in the matter.” The decision also reinforces that Delaware courts scrutinize non-competes and are hesitant to “blue pencil” overly broad terms to recraft them as reasonable – instead, Delaware courts tend to decline to enforce them altogether. Here, the at-issue non-compete prevented the former employee from engaging in any business directly or indirectly engaged in Centurion’s business, any business competitive with Centurion’s business, or any business competitive with any business Centurion planned to engage in at any time during the employee’s employment, for a period of two years after his termination date, anywhere in the United States. The Court found these terms unreasonable, explaining that the geographic scope and duration taken together “casts a limitless net over [defendant] in both scope of geography and scope of conduct,” and taking particular issue with the language covering any field the company “planned to enter.” 

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Chancery Finds Non-Compete Unenforceable by Subsidiaries Unless Identified in Agreement


Frontline Techs. Parent, LLC v. Murphy, C.A. No. 2023-0546-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 23, 2023)
This non-compete decision reminds drafters to pay careful attention to scope and definitions, in particular language covering the appropriate entities within the corporate family. Here, a holding company, Frontline Technologies Parent LLC, entered into equity agreements with two employees of its operating subsidiary, Frontline Technologies Group, LLC, and these agreements included non-compete provisions covering competitors of the holding company. The employees later gained employment with a competitor of the operating subsidiary. The former employees were then sued for breaching the restrictive covenants. The Court of Chancery granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that the agreement’s language did not prohibit competition with the operating subsidiary, only the holding company. As the Court explained in applying the contract’s plain language, the parent and subsidiary must “live with the restrictive covenants they agreed to.” The Court also dismissed the claims for equitable rescission, finding that no mistake of fact had occurred, and rescission was not available to “save a party from its agreement to unambiguous contract provisions that later prove disadvantageous.”

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Chancery Adopts Heightened Standard for Supplemental Disclosure Mootness Fee Awards in M&A Litigation


Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 2021-0202-KSJM (Del. Ch. July 6, 2023)
This opinion clamps down on mootness fee awards for immaterial supplemental disclosures in connection with M&A transactions. It announces that future mootness fees for supplemental disclosure will only be awarded where such disclosures are “material” not merely “helpful,” and even when such fees are awarded, they may be much lower than those awarded historically. More ›

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Chancery Finds for Defendants in Challenge to Oracle Acquisition of NetSuite


In re Oracle Corporation Derivative Litigation, Consol. C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. May 12, 2023)
In this “vigorously litigated” matter, the Plaintiffs argued that Oracle’s founder and current officer and director, Larry Ellison, manipulated a special committee of Oracle’s board to overpay for NetSuite, another company in which Ellison was a substantial investor. Plaintiffs offered two theories to bring the transaction within the entire fairness standard of review: first, that Ellison was a controller who sat on both sides of the transaction, and second, that Ellison, on his own and with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, misled the Oracle board and special committee, and thus the transaction was a product of fraud. Post-trial, the Court of Chancery rejected both theories, applied the business judgment rule, and found for the defendants. More ›

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sennis@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6865
Sarah focuses her practice within the firm’s Corporate and Commercial Litigation, and Bankruptcy and Restructuring groups.Her practice includes litigating corporate and …
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