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Showing 125 posts in Books and Records.

Chancery Rules That Delisted and Long-Dark Corporation Failed To Show Harm Warranting a Confidentiality Order for Basic Financial Documents Responsive to a Books and Records Request

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery


Rivest v. Hauppauge Digital, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0848-PWG (Del. Ch. Sept. 1, 2022)
Plaintiff stockholder sought to inspect the books and records of a defendant company, requesting a narrow universe of annual and quarterly financial statements for closed periods in order to value his shares. For several years, including time periods after deregistering its stock from a public exchange, the defendant had not provided any financial information to stockholders or held an annual meeting. More ›

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Chancery Relies on Inconsistencies Between Board Materials and Proxy Statement to Order Books and Records Production

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery


Hightower v. Sharpspring, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0720-KSJM (Del. Ch. Aug. 31, 2022)
Once a plaintiff establishes a proper purpose under Section 220 of the DGCL, the Court of Chancery must determine the scope of the books and records inspection, which is those documents that are essential and sufficient for the stockholder’s stated purpose. Often, where the inspection relates to possible mismanagement or wrongdoing at the corporation regarding a specific transaction, the production of formal board materials will be sufficient for the stockholder’s needs. Here, however, the Court found that a plaintiff exploring a transaction involving a conflict demonstrated a need for documents beyond formal board materials, relying on inconsistencies between the board minutes and the proxy statement for the merger, which could be reconciled only with additional information. The Court awarded the plaintiff access to both informal board materials as well as officer-level materials not shared with the board in several defined categories. 

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Chancery Limits Review on Motion to Dismiss to Only Section 220 Documents Cited in Complaint and Dismisses Complaint Under MFW Doctrine

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery, Controlling Stockholder, Special Committees


City Pension Fund for Firefighters and Police Officers in the City of Miami, v. The Trade Desk, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 2021-0560-PAF (Del. Ch. July 29, 2022)
This decision addresses certain points of interest concerning (i) the use of books and records produced pursuant to Section 220 of the DGCL in subsequent litigation, and (ii) structuring controlling stockholder transactions to facilitate business judgment review. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Clarifies That There Is No Blanket Rule Requiring Dismissal Of An Overbroad Section 220 Demand And That A Proper Purpose May Be Established Through Hearsay

Posted In Books and Records, Delaware Supreme Court


Nvidia Corp. v, City of Westland Police and Fire Ret. Sys., et al., No. 259, 2021 (Del. July 19, 2022)
In this decision, the Delaware Supreme Court clarified two points concerning books and records actions under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law: (i) there is no blanket rule requiring the Court of Chancery to dismiss overbroad demands; and (ii) a stockholder may establish a proper purpose under Section 220 through hearsay evidence, but this exception should not be abused. More ›

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Chancery Finds That Stockholder’s Broad Section 220 Demand Lacked The Precision And Plus Factors Required To Entitle Shareholder To Additional Materials

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery


Oklahoma Firefighters Pension & Ret. Sys. v. Amazon.com, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0484-LLW (Del. Ch. June 1, 2022)
In reviewing the propriety of a stockholder’s Section 220 demand to inspect corporate records, Delaware courts must determine (1) whether the stockholder has stated a proper purpose; and (2) whether the requested documents are essential to the accomplishment of the proper purpose. Where the stated purpose of a Section 220 demand is to investigate alleged corporate wrongdoing which is the subject of other pending investigations or litigation, Delaware courts require one or more “plus factors” in addition to the mere pendency of an investigation or litigation to establish a credible basis to suspect wrongdoing. In this decision of the Court of Chancery, the Court held that the stockholder failed to establish the requisite plus factors and, in all events, the company had already produced sufficient records for the accomplishment of the stockholder’s purpose. More ›

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Chancery Curtails Discovery in Appraisal Action Instituted as a Substitute for Books and Records Demand

Posted In Appraisal, Books and Records, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Chancery, Discovery


Wei v. Zoox, Inc, C.A. No. 2020-1036-KSJM (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2022)
Often, stockholders who suspect corporate wrongdoing in connection with M&A transactions demand to inspect the company’s books and records under Section 220. But if, through no fault of the stockholder, the timing of a closing makes Section 220 relief more difficult to obtain, may the stockholder use Section 262, the appraisal statute, and its broader available discovery, to accomplish the same goal? In this case, the Court concludes that the answer is a qualified yes. That is, the stockholders are entitled to discovery in the appraisal proceeding. But if it appears the proceeding is just a means to investigate a potential class action for breach of fiduciary duties, the stockholder is entitled to discovery only to the limited extent it would have been available under Section 220, and not to the broader extent typically available under Section 262. 

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Chancery Strictly Applies Statutory Standing Requirement to Dismiss Books and Records Action by Former Stockholder Who Filed Hours After Effective Time of Merger

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery, Merger Agreements


(Previously published in ABA's Business Law Today) 
Swift v. Houston Wire & Cable Co., C.A. No. 2021-0525-LWW (Del. Ch. Dec. 3, 2021)
In this decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery applied Section 220(c) of the Delaware General Corporation Law to dismiss a books and records complaint filed shortly after an event that, under the terms of a merger agreement, caused the plaintiff’s shares to be canceled.  More ›

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Chancery Holds that Corporation Cannot Rely on Its Stock Ledger to Deny A Stockholder Inspection Rights When it is Aware of and Concedes the Stockholder’s Status

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery


Knott Partners L.P. v. Telepathy Labs, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0583-SG (Del. Ch. Nov. 23, 2021)
To seek corporate records under section 220 of the DGCL, the plaintiff must demonstrate that it is a stockholder. Generally, a corporation can rely on its stock ledger to determine who is a stockholder of record. This case confirmed, however, that a corporation may not rely on its stock ledger to deprive a stockholder of inspection rights when the corporation was aware of the stockholder’s status but failed to update its stock ledger to reflect that. More ›

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Chancery Denies Books and Records Inspection Brought to Advance the Stockholder’s Interests as a Creditor

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery


Georgia Notes 18, LLC v. Net Element, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0246-JRS (Del. Ch. Nov. 18, 2021)
Plaintiff, a stockholder and creditor of the defendant company, demanded to inspect the company’s books and records pursuant to 8 Del. C. § 220. The company objected, arguing that the plaintiff had failed to state a proper purpose for inspection and had a primary improper purpose. The Court found in the company’s favor, determining that plaintiff sought documents for the primary improper purpose of seeking pre-litigation discovery in connection to its interests as a creditor. 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

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery, Fee Awards, Sanctions


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 Grants Inspection Demand Relying on a Short-Seller’s Report

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery

Jacob v. Bloom Energy Corp., C.A. No. 2020-0023-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 25, 2021)

In a post-trial opinion in this books-and-records action pursuant to 8 Del. C. § 220, the Court of Chancery granted a stockholder’s demand to inspect the records of Bloom Energy Corporation (“Bloom”) for the purpose of investigating mismanagement and wrongdoing respecting Bloom’s alleged financial and other misstatements concerning the performance of its self-described clean, sustainable and green energy alternative. The inspection demand drew heavily from a thoroughly researched report published by a short seller, Hindenburg Research (the “Hindenburg Report”), which concluded that “Bloom’s technology is not sustainable, clean, green, or remotely profitable." The publication of the Hindenburg Report prompted Bloom to file a Form 8-K with the SEC responding to the report and in a separate filing Bloom eventually acknowledged that it had misstated its financials in some respects in prior reporting periods. More ›

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Chancery Grants Access to Facebook Board Emails in Books and Records Action

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery

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 Grants Books and Records Mismanagement Inspection Related to Rejected Financing Proposal Despite Potential Lack of Actionable Claim

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery

Alexandria Venture Investments LLC v. Verseau Therapeutics Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0593-PAF (Del. Ch. Dec. 18, 2020)

This case highlights that the potential lack of an actionable claim generally is not a valid defense to a demand for books and records where the stockholder meets the low threshold of proving a credible basis to suspect wrongdoing. Plaintiffs sought to compel inspection of books and records of Verseau Therapeutics, Inc. (“Verseau”), pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, to investigate whether Verseau’s directors violated their fiduciary duties by rejecting a financing proposal (made by the plaintiffs) to favor the interests of certain directors and affiliates. Verseau objected, arguing in part that plaintiffs did not have a credible basis to suspect wrongdoing because a majority of independent and disinterested Verseau directors had made all relevant decisions.  More ›

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Chancery Grants Leave to Move for Fees for Overly Aggressive Books and Records Defenses

Posted In Attorneys’ Fees, Books and Records, Chancery

Pettry v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0132-KSJM (Del. Ch. Nov. 24, 2020)

This case illustrates that the Court of Chancery will not accept overly aggressive defenses to books and records actions and may grant fees to discourage such tactics. Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law permits a stockholder plaintiff who has a “credible basis” to suspect wrongdoing by officers and directors to demand inspection of books and records relating to that misconduct. In this case, plaintiff-stockholders of Gilead Sciences, Inc. (“Gilead”) sought to inspect Gilead’s books and records to investigate misconduct. Gilead was subject to numerous lawsuits and government investigations arising out of alleged anticompetitive conduct, mass torts, breach of patents, and false claims relating to the development and marketing of its HIV drugs. The plaintiffs sought books and records about Gilead’s (1) anticompetitive agreements, (2) policies and procedures, (3) senior management materials, (4) communications with the government, and (5) director questionnaires. Gilead refused to produce any documents, even though the plaintiffs had a credible basis to suspect wrongdoing and the records they sought related directly to the misconduct. The Court of Chancery found that “Gilead exemplified the trend of overly aggressive litigation strategies by blocking legitimate discovery, misrepresenting the record, and taking positions for no apparent purpose other than obstructing the exercise of Plaintiffs’ statutory rights.” The Court, therefore, granted plaintiffs leave to move for fee shifting.  More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Section 220 Complaint on Jurisdictional Grounds, Finding That Plaintiffs Filed Seven Hours Prematurely

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery

MaD Investors GRMD, LLC, et al. v. GR Cos., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0589-MTZ (Del. Ch. Oct. 28, 2020)
At 5:03 p.m., on the fifth day after serving a Section 220 demand (the “Demand”) on GR Companies, Inc. (the “Company”), MaD Investors GRMD, LLC and MaD Investors GRPA, LLC (together, “Plaintiffs”), filed a complaint to compel inspection of books and records pursuant to 8 Del. C. § 220 (the “Complaint”). The Company filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Plaintiffs had filed the Complaint prematurely. Plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for leave to amend the Complaint (the “Leave Motion”).  More ›

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