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Showing 120 posts in Books and Records.

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

Posted In Books and Records, Rules of Procedure

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 Holds Statutory Rights to Inspect Books and Records of a Delaware Corporation are Subject to the Internal Affairs Doctrine and Governed Exclusively by Delaware Law

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery, Choice of Law

JUUL Labs, Inc. v. Grove, C.A. No. 2020-0005-JTL (Del. Ch. Aug. 13, 2020)

Stockholder inspection rights are a core matter of the governance of a corporation. This decision holds that, pursuant to the internal affairs doctrine, inspection rights for a stockholder of a Delaware corporation are governed exclusively by Delaware law, not by laws of other jurisdictions, regardless of where a company’s principal place of business is located. More ›

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Chancery Denies Books and Records Request From Indirect LLC Interest Holder That Assigned its Rights Prior to the Demand and the Action

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery, LLC Agreements

SolarReserve CSP Holdings, LLC v. Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC, C.A. 2020-0064-JRS (Del. Ch. Jul. 24, 2020)
Describing the case as deja vu, the Court of Chancery dismissed Plaintiff’s second attempt to enforce alleged rights related to Defendant/Company. See SolarReserve CSP Holdings, LLC v.  Tonopah Solar Energy, LLC, C.A. 2019-0791-JRS (Del.  Ch. Mar. 18, 2020) (“SolarReserve I”). The Company was formed to develop a solar power plant in Nevada, but the plan never came to fruition. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Holds That Limited Partnership Agreement That Includes Certain Books and Records Language From Section 17-305 of Limited Partnership Act Does Not Automatically Incorporate Judicial Interpretations of Section 17-305

Posted In Books and Records, Delaware Supreme Court, Limited Partnerships

Murfrey v. WHC Ventures, LLC, App. No. 294, 2019 (Del. Supr. Jul. 13, 2020)

Drafters of alternative entity agreements frequently cite to, or quote, statutory language to describe the parties’ obligations. But, the Delaware Supreme Court has concluded that when drafters do so, the drafters should be explicit in whether they also intend to incorporate judicial interpretations of that language, too. Here, because the governing limited partnership agreements (the “Agreements”) did not include an express requirement limiting books and records rights to those “necessary and essential” to a proper purpose, the Supreme Court declined to imply one. More ›

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Chancery Addresses Burdens for Valuation-Related Books-and-Records Inspections, While Finding Defendant’s Asserted Lack of Records Supported Mismanagement-Related Inspection

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery

Woods v. Sahara Enterprises, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0153-JTL (Del. Ch. July 22, 2020)

This decision concerning statutory inspection rights under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law clarifies the requirements of a proper valuation purpose, involves a unique twist concerning a mismanagement-investigation purpose, and provides a helpful summary on the potential scope of books-and-records inspections. More ›

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