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Showing 210 posts by K. Tyler O'Connell.

Court of Chancery Harmonizes Operating Agreement Governance Provisions To Resolve LLC Control Dispute

Pearl City Elevator, Inc. v. Gieseke, C.A. No. 2020-0419-JRS (Del. Ch. Mar. 23, 2021)

Under Delaware law, limited liability company agreements are interpreted like other contracts; they are read as a whole in light of the commercial context, in a manner that gives effect to and harmonizes all of their terms. In this expedited control dispute, the Court of Chancery applied those canons to consider whether certain of the plaintiff’s purchases of units from other members complied with transfer restrictions. 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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Chancery Confirms that the Implied Covenant Imposes a “Good Faith” Component to an Agreement to Negotiate

DG BF, LLC v. Ray, C.A. No. 2020-0459-MTZ (Del. Ch. Mar. 1, 2021)

The Operating Agreement for an LLC involved in the cannabis industry provided for a five-member board of managers, with one Independent Manager appointed by a process of negotiation between two other managers (the plaintiff in the action and one of the defendants). Under the process set forth in the Operating Agreement, either side could present various candidates until there was agreement, which was supposed to happen within a 180-day period. The parties could also mutually agree to extend the deadline. 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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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 Finds After Trial That $10 Billion Unit-for-Unit Merger Was “Fair and Reasonable” Under Partnership Agreement

Dieckman v. Regency GP LP, C.A. No. 11130-CB (Del. Ch. Feb. 15, 2021)

This matter concerned limited partners’ challenge under the governing limited partnership agreement to an acquisition of the partnership by another entity controlled by the partnership’s ultimate owner. A member of a conflicts committee, which had approved the $10 billion unit-for-unit controlling unitholder merger, also served the board of another company ultimately controlled by the same owner, contrary to the terms of the partnership agreement. After considering this issue, the Court of Chancery nevertheless held after a five-day trial that the merger was “fair and reasonable to the Partnership” under a contractual safe harbor, and that the plaintiffs failed to prove damages. More ›

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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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Chancery Holds That a Deadlock Warranting Dissolution Can Be Genuine Even If the Circumstances Giving Rise to the Deadlock Were Contrived

Mehra v. Teller, C.A. No. 2019-0812-KSJM (Del. Ch. Jan. 29, 2021)

In a dispute over the validity of the dissolution of a limited liability company, the Court of Chancery held in a post-trial opinion that a deadlock between LLC managers was genuine and deserving of legal effect, even though the circumstances giving rise to the deadlock were contrived. 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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Delaware Supreme Court Adopts Post-Merger Derivative Standing Framework From In re Primedia, Inc. Shareholders Litigation

Morris v. Spectra Energy Partners (DE) GP, LP, No. 489, 2019 (Del. Jan. 22, 2021)

In Delaware corporate law, “the standing inquiry has assumed special significance,” especially in the post-merger context. The Delaware Supreme Court in Morris v. Spectra Energy holds that a plaintiff has post-merger standing if she brings a claim disputing the fairness of a merger and satisfies the three-part framework set forth in In re Primedia, Inc. Shareholders Litigation, 67 A.3d 455 (Del. Ch. 2013), even if the underlying claim seems unlikely to succeed on the merits. 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 Dismisses Stockholder’s Claim that Directors Provided Materially-Deficient Notice of their Intent to Use Equity Bonus Plan to Reward Past Performance

Pascal v. Czerwinski, C.A. No. 2020-0320-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 16, 2020)

This decision concerned a motion to dismiss a stockholder’s direct claim that Director-Defendants breached their duties by providing a materially-deficient proxy statement advocating adoption of an equity incentive plan (“EIP”) that ultimately allowed Defendants to award themselves bonuses. As a result of the alleged deficiencies, Plaintiffs sought invalidation of the entire EIP. More ›

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Chancery Declines to Apply Stockholder Approval Requirement of DGCL § 271 to Agreement to Transfer All Assets in Lieu of Foreclosure

Stream TV Networks, Inc. v. SeeCubic, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0310-JTL (Del. Ch. Dec. 8, 2020)

In this decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery reviews the history of requirements to approve transfers of all assets both at common law and under the Delaware General Corporation Law, and concludes that Delaware law does not require majority stockholder approval for an insolvent corporation’s transfer of assets to a secured creditor in lieu of a foreclosure. The Court thus rejected an attempt by the corporation’s founders, who owned a majority of its stock, to invalidate the corporation’s agreement in that regard.  More ›

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Chancery Analogizes to Bylaw Provisions to Conclude that Noteholder was Bound to Forum Selection Clause in Amended Note

Mack v. Rev Worldwide, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0123-MTZ (Del. Ch. Dec. 30, 2020)

Plaintiff loaned defendant $2.5 million through six secured convertible promissory notes. Each of the notes contained an exclusive forum selection clause requiring any disputes be litigated in Texas. They also contained a “Waiver and Amendment” provision which allowed the notes to be amended or modified upon the consent of the borrower and a majority in interest of the investors in the notes. In 2019, exercising the Waiver and Amendment provision, the defendant borrower, with the consent of the majority of noteholders, consolidated the outstanding notes and amended certain provisions. The new amended note contained the same exclusive forum provision requiring that disputes be litigated in Texas, but the plaintiff noteholder nonetheless asserted default and other claims arising from the notes in the Delaware Court of Chancery. Defendant borrower moved to dismiss, and the plaintiff countered that it had not executed or otherwise consented to the terms of new amended note, including its forum selection provision. More ›

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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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toconnell@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6892
Tyler O’Connell represents companies, members of management and investors in business disputes before the Delaware courts. Tyler also counsels directors, officers and managers …
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