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Damon B. Ferrara

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Showing 15 posts by Damon B. Ferrara.

Chancery Rejects Argument that Books and Records Plaintiff Could “Retroactively” Comply with Statutory Demand Requirements

Martinez v. GPB Capital Holdings, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-1005-SG (Del. Ch. June 9, 2020)

The Delaware Court of Chancery largely entered judgment on the pleadings in favor of GPB Capital Holdings, LLC (“Defendant”), the general partner to four limited partnerships, holding that the plaintiffs had failed to meet the statutory requirements of 6 Del. C. §17-305 (Delaware’s statute pertaining to access to the books and records of limited partnerships).  More ›

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Chancery Grants Preliminary Injunction, Admonishes Defendant for Engaging in “Self-Help”

Buckeye Partners, L.P. v. GT USA Wilmington, LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0255-JTL (Del. Ch. May 20, 2020)

To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must demonstrate (i) a reasonable probability of success on the merits, (ii) a threat of irreparable harm if an injunction is not granted, and (iii) that the balance of the equities favors the issuance of an injunction. Revlon, Inc. v. MacAndrews & Forbes Hldgs., Co., 506 A.2d 173, 179 (Del. 1986). More ›

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Delaware Superior Court CCLD Addresses Claim of Common Interest Privilege over Merger Agreement Parties’ Post-Signing, Pre-Closing Communications

The American Bottling Co. v. Repole, C.A. No. N19C-03-048 AML CCLD (Del. Super. May 12, 2020)

Delaware courts will apply the common interest doctrine when two parties, represented by counsel, exchange privileged information with one another concerning a legal matter in which they have a shared interest. To maintain the privilege, the common interest must involve predominantly legal issues, rather than a common economic interest in a commercial venture. If there is no common interest, a party who shares privileged materials with a third-party will generally waive the privilege.  More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Fraud, Misrepresentation and Mistake Claims Based on Anti-Reliance Provisions

Posted In Fraud Claims

Midcap Funding X Trust v. Graebel Companies, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0312-MTZ (Del. Ch. Apr. 30, 2020)

The Court of Chancery found on a motion to dismiss that the plaintiffs’ allegations regarding misrepresentations in contractual negotiations were irrelevant due to the contract’s anti-reliance and integration clauses, and that the plaintiffs in the action otherwise were “scouring and stretching” the contract’s plain terms.  More ›

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Chancery Finds Corporation Fraudulently Induced Investor into Contract, Acting “Through Concealment and Silence”

Maverick Therapeutics Inc. v. Harpoon Therapeutics, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0002-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 3, 2020).

In this post-trial opinion, the Court of Chancery found that Harpoon Therapeutics, Inc., (“Harpoon”), a Delaware corporation in the business of developing novel cancer therapies, fraudulently induced an investor into acquiring an interest in one of its business divisions by intentionally drafting a non-compete narrowly to exclude certain opportunities Harpoon wished to pursue, in contrast with its representations to the investor about its future plans. More ›

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Chancery Finds Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Over Employee Defendants in Stock Appreciation Rights Dispute

Highway to Health, Inc. v Bohn, C.A. No. 2018-0707-AGB (Del. Ch. Apr. 15, 2020).
To establish personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant under the Delaware long-arm statute, 10 Del. C. § 3104, a plaintiff must show that: “(1) there is a statutory basis for exercising personal jurisdiction; and (2) subjecting the nonresident defendant to jurisdiction in Delaware would not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”  More ›

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Delaware Court of Chancery Declares Board Action Void For Equitable Reasons, Finding Corporate Directors Deceived Other Board Members into Attending Board Meeting

Palisades Growth Capital II, L.P. v. Bäcker, C.A. No. 2019-0931-JRS (Del. Ch. Mar. 26, 2020).

In keeping with longstanding Delaware precedent, the Delaware Court of Chancery recently held that it may void an action by a board of directors – even where the action is not otherwise in violation of the corporate charter or the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”) – when equity so requires. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Holds that Federal Forum Selection Clauses for Securities Cases Are Valid in Delaware Corporate Charters

Salzberg v Sciabacucchi, No. 346, 2019 (Del. Mar. 18, 2020).

Reversing the Court of Chancery, the Delaware Supreme Court has concluded that federal forum selection clauses, requiring that litigation under the Securities Act of 1933 (“’33 Act”) may only be filed in federal courts, are allowable provisions in a Delaware corporation’s certificate of incorporation or bylaws.  More ›

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Chancery Finds Pleadings Sufficient to Support Claim that a Corporate Self-Tender Offer was Coercive

Posted In Chancery, M&A

Davidow v. LRN Corp., C.A. No. 2019-0150-MTZ (Del. Ch. Feb. 25, 2020).

Delaware law does not invoke the entire fairness test for a voluntary, noncoercive offer by a corporation to buy its own shares. But, as this decision illustrates, Delaware courts will apply the entire fairness test where the self-tender is coercive or the board is interested or lacks independence in approving the transaction. More ›

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Chancery Denies Motions for Summary Judgment in Tesla Litigation, Questions Remain as to Whether Musk is a Controlling Stockholder

In re Tesla Motors, Inc. S’holder Litig., C.A. No. 12711-VCS (Del. Ch. Feb. 4, 2020).

The Delaware Court of Chancery denied plaintiffs’ and defendants’ (including Elon Musk’s) motions for summary judgment on the grounds that genuine issues of material fact still remain to be determined at trial. The plaintiffs brought the action based on the allegation that Musk improperly influenced the Tesla board of directors to approve Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, another entity owned partially by Musk that was purportedly on the verge of insolvency.  More ›

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Chancery Rejects Challenge to Financing Made Open to All Investors, Reasons the LLC Operating Agreement Allows Self-Interested Conduct, so any Claims Must Assert Bad Faith

MKE Holdings Ltd. v. Schwartz, C.A. No. 2018-0729-SG (Del. Ch. Jan. 29, 2020).

Verdesian Life Sciences, LLC is an agricultural company focused upon rolling up various companies with proprietary plant health technologies. All members of the Board of Managers of Verdesian were appointed by Paine Schwartz Partners, LLC (“Paine”), a private equity firm that owned over seventy percent of the Class A Units of the company. Paine also benefited from a management agreement that entitled it to receive certain management fees tied to acquisitions. The LLC Operating Agreement required the Managers to perform their duties in good faith and in a manner they reasonably believed to be in or not opposed to the best interests of Verdesian. However, the Operating Agreement also allowed Managers and Members to “consider only such interests and factors as such Manager or Member desires, including its, his or her own interests” when facing discretionary decisions. The Court of Chancery concluded that the Operating Agreement “directs the Managers to operate in good faith and with ordinary care and effectively exculpates Managers for conflicted, negligent and other detrimental decisions … so long as taken in good faith.” More ›

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Delaware Court of Chancery Grants Motion to Dismiss Disclosure Claims Because Hedge Fund had Sufficient Information to Consider Corporation’s Self-Tender Offer

Chatham Asset Mgmt., LLC v. Papanier, C.A. No. 2017-0088-AGB (Del. Ch. Jan. 13, 2020).

The directors of a Delaware corporation that makes a self-tender offer must disclose all material facts. A fact is material if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable stockholder would consider it important in deciding whether to tender. More ›

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CCLD Finds that Statute of Limitations for Tortious Interference Claim was Tolled until Key Documents Relating to the Alleged Scheme were Released

BTIG, LLC v. Palantir Technologies, Inc., C.A. No. N19C-08-314 EMD CCLD (Del. Sup. Ct. Jan. 3, 2020).

In this decision denying a motion to dismiss, the Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division found that the plaintiff sufficiently alleged facts to toll the statute of limitations under the “time of discovery” rule, which is also known as the doctrine of “inherently unknowable injury.” More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Stockholder Claims that a Minority Owner was a Controlling Stockholder or that a Majority of the Board was Beholden to the Minority Owner in Approving a Merger Transaction with the Minority Owner

In re: Essendant, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, C.A. No. 2018-0789-JRS (Del. Ch. Dec. 30, 2019).

When as here a Delaware corporation’s charter contains an exculpation provision under Section 102(b)(7) of the Delaware General Corporation Law, stockholders who bring suit against directors who approve a merger transaction must allege violations of the duty of loyalty to state a non-exculpated claim. They may state such a claim if they adequately plead that a controlling stockholder breached duties for self-interested reasons, or that a majority of the board was self-interested or beholden to the buyer. They may also attempt to state a non-exculpated claim by claiming that a majority of the board acted in bad faith. To meet this bad faith standard, a plaintiff must plead facts showing that the decision to approve the transaction lacked any rationally conceivable basis associated with maximizing stockholder value. As the Court explained, allegations of mis- or non-disclosure will not suffice unless plaintiffs plead intentional misstatements or omissions based on a “factual narrative that would allow any inferential explanation of why these fiduciaries would so abandon their duties as to engage in bad faith." (emphasis in original). More ›

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Chancery Examines Computer Misuse Claims Against Former Employee and Awards Defamation Damages Against Former Employer

Laser Tone Business Systems LLC v. Delaware Micro-Computer LLC, C.A. No. 2017-0439-TMR (Del. Ch. Nov. 27, 2019).

In one of her final opinions before joining the Delaware Supreme Court, Vice Chancellor Montgomery-Reeves addressed various statutory computer misuse claims against a former employee and awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages for the former employer’s libel and slander. In Laser Tone v. Delaware Micro-Computer, plaintiff, a photocopier company, terminated the defendant employee after he refused to sign a non-compete agreement. In its subsequent lawsuit, plaintiff claimed that the defendant stole company information and deleted certain data from his company computer and cell phone devices before departing. Certain of plaintiff’s executives then communicated to third parties that the defendant was “a thief and a drug user.” Plaintiff brought a cause of action against the defendant for violating the Delaware Misuse of Computer System Information Act (“DMCSIA”) by allegedly stealing data and deleting certain other information from company systems. The defendant counterclaimed for libel and slander, arguing that plaintiff’s communications were false and had caused him significant mental and reputational harm.

After a two-day trial on the merits, the Court of Chancery found insufficient evidence to support a majority of the plaintiff’s theories of liability, but did find that the defendant had deleted certain data from his company laptop in violation of the DMCSIA. Finding no non-speculative evidence of harm, however, the Court awarded only nominal damages. The Court also found that plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant had stolen any data. Having determined that plaintiff failed to prove the defendant was a “thief,” the Court denied plaintiff’s affirmative defense of truth and entered judgment for the defendant on his defamation counterclaims. The Court, in its discretion, awarded $100,000 in damages, basing the award on evidence that the defendant had “lost two jobs, customers, and friends; and, [because] he fear[ed] his business [was] in jeopardy.”

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dferrara@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6865
Damon B. Ferrara is an attorney in the Corporate and Commercial Litigation Group. He focuses his practice on corporate and complex commercial litigation for business entities formed …
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