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Matthew F. Lintner

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Showing 47 posts by Matthew F. Lintner.

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 Finds That Delaware’s Trade Secrets Statute Preempts Unjust Enrichment Claim for Same Alleged Misconduct

250ok, Inc. v. Message Sys., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0588-JRS (Del. Ch. Jan. 22, 2021)

This decision clarifies the scope of preemption of common law claims under the Delaware Uniform Trade Secret Act (“DUTSA”). Plaintiff asserted both a claim under the DUTSA and a claim for unjust enrichment, where both claims arose from the same alleged misconduct. The Court of Chancery concluded that a trade secret claim under the DUTSA “occupies the field” and preempts a claim for common law unjust enrichment. Applying Delaware precedent on the issue, the Court explained that preemption applies not just to tort-based claims, but to any “alternative common law claims.” And, as previous decisions have held, preemption applies at the dismissal stage even though the Court may later find that the DUTSA does not protect the information at issue. Accordingly, the Court of Chancery dismissed the unjust enrichment claim.

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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 CCLD Grants Anti-Suit Injunction

American International Industries v. The Neslemur Company, C.A. No. N19C-04-258 MMJ CCLD (Del. Super. Dec. 10, 2020)

Anti-suit injunctions are an extraordinary form of relief. This decision illustrates the narrow circumstances where one may be warranted. Here, plaintiff American International Industries (“AII”) entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement (“APA”) with The Neslemur Company (“Neslemur”), in which the assets AII acquired later gave rise to third-party product liability claims against AII involving asbestos-contaminated talcum powder across the United States. AII sued Neslemur in the Delaware Superior Court for contractual indemnification under the APA. AII then sought to join Neslemur as a defendant in several pending tort actions in other jurisdictions, including California and New Jersey, seeking statutory and common law indemnification, as well as contribution. In response, Neslemur sought an anti-suit injunction in Delaware against AII to prevent AII from pursuing its indemnification claims in jurisdictions other than Delaware. More ›

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Chancery Finds Company Responsible for Advancing Costs of Defense to Its CEO in a Claim Brought by the Company

International Rail Partners LLC v. American Rail Partners, LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0177-PAF (Del. Ch. Nov. 24, 2020)

The Delaware Limited Liability Company Act (the “LLC Act”) allows a limited liability company (“LLC”) to provide for indemnification as to “any and all claims and demands whatsoever” against an LLC manager or officer, “[s]ubject to such standards and restrictions, if any, as are set forth in [the] limited liability company agreement.” 6 Del. C. § 18-108. The statute prescribes that the LLC agreement may indemnify any person to the fullest extent possible by contract. The only restrictions are those expressly set forth in the relevant LLC contract provisions. An LLC agreement is construed in accordance with Delaware law regarding contract interpretation. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Action For Plaintiffs’ Failure to Join Indispensable Parties

Germaninvestments AG and Richard Herrling, individually and on behalf of AHMR GmbH v. Allomet Corporation and Yanchep LLC, C.A. No. 2018-0666-JRS (Del. Ch. Nov. 20, 2020)

Under Court of Chancery Rule 12(b)(7), a defendant may move for dismissal because of a failure to join an indispensable party as described in Rule 19. Rule 19 provides that such parties include persons who, “(1) in the person’s absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) the person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in the person’s absence may (i) as a practical matter, impair or impede the person’s ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of the claimed interest.” If such a person exists in the controversy, the Court may join the person if feasible. If joinder is not feasible, Rule 19(b) requires the Court to “determine whether in equity and good conscience the action should proceed among the parties before it, or should be dismissed, the absent person being thus regarded as indispensable.” Rule 19(b) offers a nonexclusive list of factors to consider when determining whether the action can proceed without the absent party’s involvement. Under Rule 12(h)(2), motions to dismiss for failure to join indispensable parties may be raised up to and including trial, and are not automatically waived as a result of not raising the argument in the first instance. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Defendants From Action Against Their Own Wishes, Describing the Matter as an “Erewhon-like” Inversion of the Parties’ Typical Positions

Stimwave Technologies Inc. v. Laura Tyler Perryman, C.A. No. 2019-1003-SG (Del. Ch. Nov. 17, 2020)

Under Court of Chancery Rule 41(a), a Delaware plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss its own complaint without prejudice, provided that (i) the defendant has not yet filed an answer; (ii) the defendant has not yet filed a motion for summary judgment; and (iii) the defendant has not filed a motion to dismiss which has been answered by the plaintiff. In accordance with the abovementioned standards, where a defendant (1) files a motion to dismiss, and (2) the plaintiff thereafter submits an answering brief in opposition to that motion, the plaintiff may no longer voluntarily dismiss the action while that motion is pending. More ›

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Chancery Rebukes Party for “Distracting” and “Detrimental” Rule 11 Arguments

POSCO Energy Co., Ltd. v. FuelCell Energy, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0713-MTZ (Del. Ch. Oct. 22, 2020)

Under Court of Chancery Rule 15, a Delaware plaintiff may request leave from the Court to amend or supplement a complaint. Leave to grant such motions is “liberally granted, unless, in a narrowly construed exception, there is inexcusable delay and prejudice to the defendant.” This opinion involves an unsuccessful opposition to a motion to amend based, in part, on the argument that the original pleading violated Rule 11.   More ›

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Chancery Discusses Standards for Reasonable Fees in Making Fee Award for “Bad Faith” Litigation

Carlos Eduardo Lorefice Lynch v. R. Angel Gonzalez Gonzalez, C.A. No. 2019-0356-MTZ (Del. Ch. Sep. 18, 2020)

Under the American Rule, parties to lawsuits in Delaware generally are responsible for paying their own attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the litigation. Parties can petition Delaware courts, however, to shift the fees when such a party can prove that its opponent pursued its claims in “bad faith.”  More ›

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Chancery Addresses Statutes of Limitations Issues Arising Out Employment-Related Claims

Weik, Nitsche & Dougherty, LLC, v. Pratcher, C.A. No. 2018-0803-MTZ (Del. Ch. Aug. 26, 2020)

Following an employment dispute between former employers and employees of a Delaware limited liability company, the employers (“Plaintiffs”) filed an action in the Delaware Court of Chancery seeking rescission of a contract recently executed by the parties. The contract at issue governed the percentage of fees to which the employees (“Defendants”) were entitled for any business the employees originated for the LLC. According to Plaintiffs, Defendants breached the contract by engaging in “self-marketing campaigns” through which Defendants failed to recognize any affiliation with the LLC and which caused a disparity in the amount of fees each party believed Defendants were entitled to.  In a series of counterclaims, Defendants argued that Plaintiffs owed Defendants certain sums of money pursuant to the contractual relationship. Defendants asserted that Plaintiffs owed those sums based on the Defendants’ “expectancy in the contracts” which were lost after Plaintiffs purportedly breached the contract and forced Defendants to “resign and lose their expected profits from [the contract].” More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Caremark Claims Against Metlife Board

In re Metlife Inc. Derivative Litigation, Consol. C.A. No. 2019-0452-SG (Del. Ch. Aug. 17, 2020)

Shareholders seeking relief for alleged harm to a Delaware corporation must comply with Delaware’s pre-suit demand requirement by either making a demand on the board of directors to take action respecting the potential claims, or initiating suit themselves and adequately pleading facts excusing pre-suit demand as futile. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Affirms Decision Declining to Order Stockholder Meeting Under Section 211 of the DGCL

Spanakos v. Pate, C.A. No. 532, 2019 (Del. July 31, 2020)
The Court of Chancery may summarily order a stockholder meeting to be held to elect directors of a Delaware corporation, if one has not been held for more than thirteen months. 8 Del. C. § 211. The rule’s purpose is to ameliorate situations in which a Delaware corporation’s normal democratic functions are impaired, for example, if “by reason of death or resignation or other cause, a corporation should have no directors in office ….” 8 Del. C. § 223. The stockholder meeting to elect directors is a cornerstone of Delaware corporate law, and “stockholders’ entitlement to such a meeting is paramount.” Newcastle P’rs, L.P. v. Vesta Ins. Gp., Inc., 887 A.2d 975, 979 (Del. Ch. 2005).  More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Complaint Challenging Dilution for Lack of Standing and Failure to State a Claim

Hindlin v Gottwald, C.A. No. 2019-0586-JRS (Del. Ch. July 22, 2020)

The plaintiff, a minority investor (“Plaintiff”) in a Delaware limited liability company, Core Nutrition, LLC (the “Company”), brought an action for breach of fiduciary duties and certain provisions of the Company’s LLC agreement (the “LLC Agreement”). The defendants in the action were three individual members of the Company’s board of managers (“Defendants”). Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint under, inter alia, Court of Chancery Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, and 6 Del. C. §§ 18-1001–03 for lack of standing. More ›

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Delaware Superior Court Allows Statutory Tort Claims for Computer Crimes to Proceed Alongside Breach of Contract Claims

Work Capital, LLC v. AlphaOne Capital Partners, LLC, C.A. No. N19C-08-036 PRW CCLD (Del. Super. June 25, 2020)
Delaware law may provide statutory tort remedies in addition to contractual remedies for actions involving computer system misuse, as demonstrated by a recent Delaware Superior Court opinion. In Work Capital v. AlphaOne Capital Partners, plaintiff Work Capital brought an action in the Superior Court initially alleging only three counts for breach of contract. Plaintiff later amended the complaint, adding one count for violation of Delaware’s Computer Related Offenses Act, 11 Del. C. §§ 931-941 (the “Act”). More ›

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mlintner@morrisjames.com
T 302.888.6828
Matt Lintner has extensive experience litigating complex corporate, commercial, and fiduciary matters. Matt represents corporations, directors and officers, and investors in …
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