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Showing 376 posts in Chancery.

Chancery Addresses Pleading-Stage Arguments for Dismissal in LLC Dispute


Principal Growth Strategies LLC v. AGH Parent LLC, C.A. 2019-0431-JTL (Del. Ch. January 25, 2024)
This decision provides helpful guidance to practitioners to address pleading-stage arguments for dismissal. The plaintiff asserted fiduciary claims against the controller and manager of a Delaware LLC, who allegedly engineered an asset-swap transaction at the expense of the LLC. The Court of Chancery largely denied the motions to dismiss. More ›

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Chancery Confirms Bad Faith Pleading Standard for Officer Caremark Claims


Segway Inc. v. Hong Cai, C.A. No. 2022-1110-LWW (Del. Ch. Ct. Dec. 14, 2023)
The Caremark doctrine recognizes the duty of oversight for directors of Delaware corporations. Under In re McDonald's Corp. Stockholder Derivative Litigation, 289 A.3d 343 (Del. Ch. Jan. 26, 2023), corporate officers, and not just directors, owe a duty of oversight, at least within the scope of each officer’s responsibilities. This decision confirms that the same pleading standard – one requiring bad faith – applies to officer oversight claims. Here, the plaintiff brought such a claim against its former president arising out of declining sales of the company's transportation devices and an increase in accounts receivable. More ›

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Chancery Finds Amendment to LLC Agreement Invalid for Want of Manager’s Involvement

Posted In Chancery, LLCs


DiDonato v. Campus Eye Management, LLC, C.A. No. 2023-0671-LWW (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2024)
In governance disputes among LLC constituencies, the operating agreement is the beginning and often end point. This action involved a challenged amendment to an LLC agreement, which provided in relevant part: “[t]he Agreement may be amended, modified, waived or supplemented by the Manager with the written consent of all Members.” The Court found this language was unambiguous and expressly required the manager to be involved in any amendment. In doing so, the Court declined to read the provision – which was the only one in the contract addressing amendments – as permissive and allowing other forms of amendment. Considering the provision, the Court also declined to invoke Section 18-302(f) of the LLC Act, which allows amendments with approval of all members, finding that section applies only where the LLC agreement lacks a mechanism for amendments.

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Chancery Clarifies Controlling Stockholder Fiduciary Duties in Sears Litigation


In re Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. S’holder Litig., C.A. No. 2019-0798-JTL (Del. Ch. Jan. 24, 2024)
Here, a special committee of the board supported a plan to liquidate the company’s floundering business segment and continue operating its more promising business segment. The company’s controlling stockholder opposed the plan and took action to prevent its implementation. He first adopted a bylaw that created hurdles to the plan’s approval. He then replaced two of the three directors serving on the special committee who most favored the plan. He ultimately agreed to acquire the minority stockholders’ interests in a squeeze-out transaction negotiated with the remaining special committee member.  More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Caremark Oversight Claims

Posted In Caremark, Chancery, Fiduciary Duties


In Re ProAssurance Corp. Stockholder Derivative Litig., Consol. C.A. No. 2022-0034-LWW (Del. Ch. Oct. 2, 2023)
Claims against corporate fiduciaries for breaches of the duty of oversight are colloquially referred to as “Caremark” claims. This decision exemplifies why Caremark claims are among the most difficult to prosecute and “should be reserved for extreme events.” More ›

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Chancery Decides Scope of Expert’s Authority in Valuation Dispute Resolution Mechanism

Posted In Chancery, Expert Determinations, LLCs


Paul v. Rockpoint Group LLC, C.A. 2018-0907-JTL (Del. Ch. Jan. 29, 2024)
This dispute arose from a disagreement over the authority of an appraiser to include legal assertions and extrinsic evidence in his valuation. The underlying dispute stemmed from the departure of a co-founder from a limited liability company. The parties' LLC Agreement established a dispute resolution mechanism to determine the value of the co-founder's share if a subsequent qualifying transaction occurred. More ›

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Chancery Orders LLC’s Dissolution as Sanction

Posted In Chancery, Dissolution, Sanctions


Kaufman v. DNARx LLC, C.A. No. 2022-0968-KSJM; C.A. No. 2022-0982-KSJM (Del. Ch. Dec. 29, 2023) (ORDER)
The Court of Chancery has broad power to address litigation misconduct. This sanctions order arose out of litigation concerning a loan to a start-up Delaware LLC in the medical research field. The litigation misconduct by the defendant LLC included lying, destroying evidence, and ignoring numerous court orders. Finding the defendant’s actions egregious and deplorable, the Court entered an extreme sanction—dissolution of the LLC and a liquidation process overseen by a court-appointed receiver.

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Chancery Strikes Unclean Hands Defense Lacking Sufficient Nexus to the Claims

Posted In Chancery, Unclean Hands


Pilot Corp. v. Abel, C.A. No. 2023-0813-MTZ (Del. Ch. Dec. 13, 2023)
Here, the plaintiff claimed that the adoption of pushdown accounting constituted a change to accounting rights that triggered a right to consent under the relevant operating agreement. The defendants asserted that the plaintiff had unclean hands because the plaintiff had manipulated earnings to alter valuation of a put right. The Court found the unclean hands defense inapplicable because the plaintiff’s claims were narrow and did not have an immediate direct relation the defense.

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Chancery Declines to Shift Costs to Derivative Plaintiffs

Posted In Chancery, Derivative Actions


In re Oracle Corp. Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 28, 2023)
By rule, the prevailing party in Court of Chancery litigation is entitled to shift costs to the losing party, subject to the Court’s discretion. Here, in an unordinary derivative action, the Court declined to shift the costs of the prevailing individual defendants to the derivative plaintiffs. The plaintiffs had overcome a motion to dismiss, which led to the appointment of a special litigation committee by the company’s board. While the special committee had the power to seek dismissal, the committee determined that the derivative plaintiffs should be allowed to prosecute the claims on the company’s behalf. The plaintiffs ultimately lost after trial. As a result, the individual defendants were entitled to indemnification by the company, including for costs. The Court cited these circumstances as grounds for invoking equity to decline shifting costs via rule to the derivative plaintiffs.

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Plaintiffs Adequately Pled Unjust Enrichment for Materially Deficient Disclosures


Buttonwood Tree Value Partners, L.P. v. R.L. Polk & Co. Inc., C.A. No. 9250-VCG (Del. Ch. Dec. 29, 2023)
To state a claim for unjust enrichment, a plaintiff must adequately plead: (1) an enrichment; (2) an impoverishment; (3) a relation between the enrichment and impoverishment; and (4) the absence of a justification. In this Court of Chancery action, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants were unjustly enriched because the plaintiffs were induced to tender their shares for inadequate compensation as a result of materially misleading disclosures. In response, the defendants argued that the relationship between the company’s self-tender and the benefits that the defendants received from subsequent special dividends and the sale of the company were too attenuated to plead that defendants were aware of these future developments. The Court held, however, that the plaintiffs had adequately pled their claims for unjust enrichment because defendants allegedly knew the true sale value of the company and defendants caused the company to make materially deficient disclosures to increase the defendants’ equity.

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Chancery Dismisses Double-Derivative Claims for Failure To Plead Demand Futility

Posted In Chancery, Demand Futility, Fiduciary Duties, M&A


City of Hialeah Emps. Ret. Sys. v. Insight Venture Partners, C.A. No. 2022-0846-MTZ (Del. Ch. Dec. 28, 2023)
A venture capital fund invested in two different entities. One of the entities then acquired the other. In the two months following the deal announcement, the acquirer’s stock fell by thirty percent, as markets remained relatively flat. The plaintiff brought six double-derivative claims, alleging that the acquirer’s directors had breached their fiduciary duty by overpaying for the target, and that the venture capital fund was the acquirer’s de facto controller and had benefitted itself via the acquisition at the acquirer’s expense. More ›

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Applying New Rule 23.1, Chancery Establishes Leadership Structure in Fox Derivative Litigation


In re Fox Corp. Deriv. Litig., C.A. 2023-0418-JTL (Del. Ch. Dec. 29, 2023).
The newly amended Court of Chancery Rule 23.1 identifies factors for a court to consider when resolving a litigation leadership dispute. In this case, which is the first decision to apply the amended Rule, the Court of Chancery carefully balanced those factors and identified the lead plaintiff and the lead counsel. More ›

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Chancery Denies Application for Preliminary Injunction After Finding Restrictive Covenants Arose from Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Were Facially Unreasonable

Posted In Chancery, Restrictive Covenants


Sunder Energy, LLC v. Jackson, C.A. No. 2023-0988-JTL (Del. Ch. Nov. 22, 2023)
The head of sales for a company that sold residential solar power systems nationwide resigned from his position after signing an independent contractor agreement with a corporate competitor. His former employer—headquartered in Utah and incorporated in Delaware—filed an action in Delaware seeking injunctive relief and enforcement of the restrictive covenants in its limited liability company agreement. More ›

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Chancery Finds Defendants Were Bound by Voting Agreement to Follow Board’s Recommendation

Posted In Chancery, Voting Agreements


Texas Pacific Land Corp. v. Horizon Kinetics LLC, C.A. No. 2022-1066-JTL (Del. Ch. Dec. 1, 2023)
In this post-trial opinion, the plaintiffs argued that a voting agreement required that the defendants follow the board’s recommendation regarding a charter amendment to increase the corporation’s authorized shares. In opposition, the defendants argued that exceptions to the voting agreement allowed them to vote against the proposal, despite the board’s recommendation, if it related to a merger, acquisition, recapitalization, or other corporate transaction requiring a stockholder vote. The Court of Chancery found that portions of the voting agreement were ambiguous, and after considering certain course of performance extrinsic evidence, concluded that the defendants were required to follow the board’s recommendation because the defendants failed to show that the proposal fell under a contractual exception. As a remedy, the Court deemed the shares as voted in support of the proposal under the Court’s equitable power to treat as done that which in good conscious ought to be done. Notably, in reaching its conclusion, the Court enforced a clause in the agreement that excluded the consideration of the parties’ drafting history.

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Chancery Denies Request for Mandatory Preliminary Injunction to Waive Advance Notice Bylaw and Permit Director Nominees to Stand for Election

Posted In Advance Notice Bylaws, Chancery


Paragon Tech., Inc. v. Cryan, C.A. 2023-1013-LWW (Del. Ch. Nov. 30, 2023).
In Delaware, a preliminary injunction is granted “sparingly and only upon a persuasive showing that it is urgently necessary, that it will result in comparatively less harm to the adverse party, and that, in the end, it is unlikely to be shown to have been issued improvidently.” A party seeking a mandatory injunction must also show entitlement to the relief it seeks as a matter of law based on undisputed facts – akin to a summary judgment standard. In this case, “with some trepidation[,]” the Court of Chancery denied a request for preliminary mandatory injunctive relief due to factual disputes concerning whether a stockholder plaintiff complied with advance notice bylaws requiring disclosure of plans to change the corporation’s business and potential conflicts of interest.   More ›

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