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Showing 253 posts by K. Tyler O'Connell.

Chancery Dismisses Derivative Claims Alleging Insider Trading and Misleading Disclosures for Failure to Plead Demand Futility


In re Zimmer Biomet Hldgs., Inc. Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2019-0455-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 25, 2021)
Under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, a stockholder-plaintiff may only bring a derivative suit on behalf of a company if the plaintiff (i) first makes a demand on the board to bring suit and is wrongfully refused, or (ii) adequately pleads that a demand would have been futile because the directors were incapable of impartially considering it. Here, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, because the stockholder-plaintiff failed to allege facts that a majority of the board of directors – who concededly were otherwise disinterested and independent – faced a substantial risk of personal liability. More ›

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Chancery Denies Motion to Dismiss, Awaits Development of Factual Record to Rule on Laches Defense

Posted In Chancery, Laches


Kim v. Coupang, LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0772-JRS (Del. Ch. Aug. 19, 2021)
If a court can rule on the affirmative defense of laches on the face of a complaint, it may grant a motion to dismiss.  As this case illustrates, however, when a laches defense cannot be determined from the complaint, resolving that defense may have to await the development of the factual record. More ›

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Applying Plain Contract Language, Chancery Awards $147 Million in Damages to Start-Up Company for Breach of Joint Venture Agreement


Symbiont.io, Inc. v. Ipreo Hldgs., LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0407-JTL (Del. Ch. Aug. 13, 2021)
Delaware is a pro-contractarian state.  When fashioning an award for a breach of contract, a Delaware court can consider: (1) the bargained-for damages remedy; (2) whether at the time of contracting the damages from a breach would be uncertain or incapable of accurate calculation; and (3) whether the amount contractually called for would be unconscionable. More ›

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Chancery Sustains Founders’ Implied Covenant Claim For “Bad Faith” Termination To Deprive Them Of Contingent Compensation, Reasoning That Contracts Cannot Be Combined And Must Be Read On Their Own Terms, But The Implied Covenant May Provide Missing Terms


Servaas v. Ford Smart Mobility LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0909-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 25, 2021)
Delaware common law requires that contracts be read on their own terms.  Accordingly, contracts cannot be “combined” to supply missing terms.  However, the implied covenant and good faith and fair dealing can, in certain circumstances, supply these missing terms.  More ›

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Chancery Grants Anti-Suit Injunction, Holds Non-Signatory Subsidiary is Bound by Stock Purchase Agreement’s Forum Selection Clause


Fla. Chem. Co., LLC v. Flotek Indus., Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0288-JTL (Del. Ch. Aug. 17, 2021).
Under Delaware law, a forum selection clause may be enforceable against a non-signatory if the non-signatory has a significantly close relationship to the agreement, either as an intended third-party beneficiary or under a theory of estoppel, and the claim subject to the forum selection provision arises from the non-signatory’s standing relating to the agreement. In regard to the last element, some Delaware cases have suggested what the court here called a “same agreement rule” – requiring that claims against the non-signatory arise from the same agreement that contains the forum selection provision. This case rejects the “same agreement” rule and holds a non-signatory may be bound even though its claims were not brought under the agreement containing the forum selection clause, provided that they are otherwise within the clause’s reach. More ›

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Chancery Applies Rule 15(aaa), Declines to Revive Dismissed Claims under the Law of the Case Doctrine


Sciabacucchi v. Malone, C.A. No. 11418-VCG (Del. Ch. Aug. 18, 2021).
Court of Chancery Rule 15(aaa) provides that, if a plaintiff files an answering brief opposing a Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule 23.1 motion, a decision granting the motion is with prejudice unless the Court “for good cause shown, shall find that dismissal with prejudice shall not be just under all the circumstances.” In this decision, the Court applied that Rule and the law of the case doctrine to deny a motion to amend to reassert dismissed claims. More ›

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Company Did Not Breach Mandatory Redemption Provision Where Special Committee Determined Company Lacked Funds To Redeem All Preferred Shares


Cont’l Investors Fund LLC v. TradingScreen, Inc., C.A. No. 10164-VCL (Del. Ch. July 23, 2021)
A holder of preferred stock often possesses redemption rights that permit the stockholder to require a company to repurchase the stockholder’s shares. But what happens if the company determines that it lacks the funds to repurchase the stock? As illustrated in this case, a stockholder challenging the determination bears the burden of proof to show that the company’s determination was improper. More ›

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Rales, Aronson and … Zuckerberg: Delaware Supreme Court Adopts Three-Part Demand Futility Standard

On September 23, 2021, the Delaware Supreme Court decided United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Participating Food Industry Employers Tri-State Pension Fund v. Zuckerberg, et al., __ A.3d __, 2021 WL 4344361 (Del. Sept. 23, 2021). In affirming the Court of Chancery’s decision, the high Court concurred with the Court-below’s articulation of a new three-part standard to assess whether a derivative plaintiff meets her pleading burden to show that a pre-suit demand upon the board would have been futile. More ›

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Chancery Permits Service By Email Upon Singaporean Defendants


Skye Mineral Investors, LLC v. DXS Capital (U.S.) Ltd., C.A. No. 2018-0059-JRS (Del. Ch. Jul. 15, 2021).
Delaware’s long-arm statute permits service of process on a foreign defendant by personal service, by mail with signed return receipt, by means authorized by the foreign jurisdiction where service is to occur, or “[a]s directed by a court.” 10 Del. C. § 3104(d). In this decision, the Court of Chancery confirms that each of the grounds is an independent basis for effecting service, and alternative methods of service are appropriate so long as they are “reasonably calculated to give actual notice.” More ›

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Chancery Finds Equitable Defenses Bar LLC Dilution and Redomestication Claims, and Holds it Lacks Jurisdiction to Dissolve a Foreign Entity


In re Coinmint, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0983-MTZ (Del. Ch. Aug. 12, 2021)
This decision illustrates that, in specific circumstances, the equitable defenses of waiver, acquiescence, and estoppel may preclude a party from challenging otherwise voidable actions. In addition, deciding an issue of first impression, the Court held that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to equitably dissolve a non-Delaware business entity. More ›

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Superior Court CCLD Dismisses Complaint Seeking Insurance Coverage for Appraisal Proceeding


Jarden, LLC v. ACE Am. Ins. Co., C.A. No. N20C-03-112 AML CCLD (Del. Super. July 30, 2021)
Director and corporate liability insurance coverage is determined by the specific language of the insurance policies. Last year, the Delaware Supreme Court held that an appraisal claim under 8 Del. C. § 262 was not a “securities claim” because it was not a claim for a “violation of law[,]” as required under that policy’s definition. See In re Solera Ins. Coverage Appeals, 240 A.3d 1121 (Del. 2020). This case addressed similar issues under somewhat different policy language.  More ›

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Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division Reaffirms Delaware’s Public Policy Against Intra-Contractual Fraud


Aveanna Healthcare, LLC v. Epic/Freedom LLC, N20C-08-055 AML CCLD (July 29, 2021).
Under Delaware law, parties may agree contractually to disclaim reliance – and potential liability for fraud – based on false extra-contractual statements. Delaware public policy, however, does not allow a party to disclaim liability for fraudulent statements within the parties’ contract. In addition, an owner who knowingly causes a company to make misrepresentations may be personally liable for fraud, even though an agreement provides such representations are made by “the company.” More ›

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Chancery Grants Special Litigation Committee’s Zapata Motion, Finds Committee Was Sufficiently Independent and Reasonable


Diep v. Sather, C.A. No. 12760-CM (Del. Ch. July 30, 2021)
Under Zapata, when analyzing a motion to dismiss by a special litigation committee, the court evaluates whether the committee was independent, acted in good faith, and had a reasonable basis for its conclusions. The court then applies its own independent business judgment to determine whether dismissal is in the best interest of the corporation. Here, the plaintiff challenged the independence of the special litigation committee and the reasonableness of its investigation and findings. More ›

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Chancery Shifts Fees, Finds That Defendant’s Litigation Tactics in Books and Records Case Crossed The Line Between Aggressive Litigation And Glaringly Egregious Conduct


Pettry, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., C.A. Nos. 2020-0132-KSJM; 2020-0138-KSJM; 2020-0155-KSJM; 2020-0173-KSJM (Del. Ch. July 22, 2021).
Delaware follows the American Rule: all litigants pay their own attorneys’ fees, no matter the outcome of the litigation. In rare cases where a litigant’s conduct is “glaringly egregious,” Delaware courts will make an exception and shift fees. This is known as the “bad faith” exception.
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Chancery Confirms Operation of Savings Statute and Tortious Interference Framework in Dispute Involving Fiduciaries with Competing Creditor Interests


Skye Mineral Invs., LLC v. DXS Capital (U.S.) Ltd., C.A. No. 2018-0059-JRS (Del. Ch. July 28, 2021)
Delaware’s savings statute—10 Del. C. § 8118(a)—protects claims from being time-barred where they were timely brought in an incorrect forum. Here, the Court of Chancery applied the savings statute in the context of claims alleging that, in a course of conduct dating back to 2013, majority LLC members managed the company to protect their affiliate’s status as a senior secured creditor and drive the company into bankruptcy, all to eliminate the minority members’ interests. 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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