Showing 6 posts in Advancement & Indemnification.
Implied Covenant of Good Faith Covers Contractual Conditions “Too Obvious” to State Expressly in Indemnification Dispute
Baldwin v. New Wood Resources, LLC, App. No. 303, 2021 (Del. Aug. 16, 2022)
This appeal involved an underlying claim that Baldwin had improperly refused to repay litigation expenses advanced to him under New Wood Resource’s limited liability company agreement. The agreement provided Baldwin with indemnification so long as he acted in good faith, and it also specified a process for determining whether Baldwin had done so. One narrow issue on appeal was whether the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing required the good faith determination itself to be conducted in good faith. Reversing the Superior Court, an en banc panel of the Supreme Court ruled that the implied covenant did apply. The Court relied upon its earlier decision in Dieckman v. Regency GP LP to restate the principle that one function of the implied covenant is to cover those contractual conditions that are "too obvious" to include expressly. That "too obvious" category included the condition that the good faith determination be made in good faith. Because New World Resources conceded this point at argument and did not make a persuasive alternative argument, the Court remanded the case.
Evans v. Avande, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0454-LWW (Del. Ch. June 9, 2022)
This decision highlights the need for a nexus between legal expenses and one’s corporate capacity in the context of indemnification, as well as Delaware law’s claim-by-claim approach to indemnification. Here, the Court of Chancery denied indemnification to a former director and officer for tortious interference and defamation claims that he defeated because they concerned conduct occurring post-termination of employment. The Court also denied indemnification relating to a breach of fiduciary duty claim that the fiduciary lost but avoided most of the requested damages, finding partial indemnification would “contravene the claim-by-claim approach to indemnification consistently followed by Delaware courts.”
Krauss v. 180 Life Sciences Corp., C.A. No. 2021-0714-VCW (Del. Ch. Mar. 7, 2022).
The plaintiff was a former director and officer of a SPAC who became involved in litigation following its business combination. The certificate of incorporation and bylaws provided for mandatory advancement. Regarding several subpoenas to the plaintiff and her affiliated companies, although only one was brought “by reason of the fact” of her service as a director or officer, the Court granted advancement based on her counsel’s good faith certification for all work would have been done if there was only the one covered subpoena, even if such work also helped with her responses to non-covered subpoenas. The plaintiff’s affirmative defenses to a fiduciary duty action similarly were covered. Her compulsory counterclaims there also were covered. In so holding, the Court reasoned that, although the certificate of incorporation stated board approval was required for advancement in connection with certain litigation activities initiated by the indemnitee, the bylaws contained no such requirement. Certain counterclaims for breaches of registration rights agreements were not compulsory and were personal in nature, however, and so were not subject to advancement. The plaintiff was entitled to fees-on-fees proportionate to her success and pre-judgment interest from the date she provided invoices evidencing those costs; although the invoices redacted various time entries, her counsel certified that she did not seek advancement for those amounts.
Huret v. Mondobrain, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0208-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 27, 2022)
Under Section 145(c) of the DGCL, a director that has been successful on the merits or otherwise in defending a covered proceeding is entitled to indemnification. When determining success, Delaware law asks whether the indemnitee has avoided an adverse result, and generally does not look behind that result. Here, the plaintiff sought indemnification for derivative claims resolved by a settlement agreement, which also resolved claims brought by the plaintiff in French litigation. The Court examined the settlement agreement as a whole and found the plaintiff was not successful in the derivative action against him, and thus not entitled to indemnification. In settling the outstanding claims, the plaintiff did not admit guilt or make any settlement payment. However, he agreed to resign from the board, which was relief the stockholder originally sought, and he also agreed to release his own claims for money damages, which were in excess of the money damages sought for the derivative claims against him.
Chancery Addresses Indemnification Rights Following CEO’s Partial Success On Underlying Claims, Including Success Based on Technicalities
Evans v. Avande, Inc. , C. A. No. 2018-0454-LWW (Del. Ch. Sept. 23, 2021)
The departure of a company’s CEO was contentious. After his termination, the company filed an action in the Court of Chancery, alleging that the CEO had breached his duty of loyalty, sought a declaratory judgment that his removal was valid and effective, and further asserted claims for tortious interference, defamation, and conversion against the CEO. After trial, the Court concluded that the CEO had breached his duty of loyalty but that the company had failed to brief, and therefore had waived, its claims for declaratory judgment, tortious interference, defamation, and conversion. On the basis of mandatory indemnification rights in the company’s charter and bylaws, the CEO filed a complaint in the Court of Chancery seeking indemnification for his fees incurred defending against the company’s suit. More ›
Chancery Dismisses Unripe Contribution Claim but Finds That Corporate Director and Officer Adequately Pled Right to Indemnification Following Merger
Wunderlich v. B. Riley Fin., Inc. et al., C.A. No: 2020-0453-PAF (Del. Ch. Mar. 24, 2021)
Delaware corporations may provide indemnification rights to their directors and officers either through the corporation’s organizational documents or by separate agreements. This case concerned the survival and scope of these rights following a merger. More ›