Showing 24 posts in Delaware Supreme Court.
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.
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
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 ›
Delaware Supreme Court Explains Appraisal Rights and Finds Disclosure Violation Relating to Pre-Closing Dividend Contingent on a Merger
In re GGP, Inc. Stockholder Litig., C.A. No. 2018-0267 (Del. July 19, 2022)
Here, the defendants organized a merger so that a large majority of the total value of the merger would be granted as a pre-closing dividend to stockholders and that the remaining amount would be granted in return for the stockholder’s shares. In the resulting litigation, stockholders argued that the defendants’ structuring of the merger unlawfully denied or diluted the stockholders’ right to seek appraisal and that the defendants’ disclosures regarding the structuring were deficient. The defendants prevailed on a motion to dismiss before the Court of Chancery. On appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court found that the dividend conditioned on the merger’s consummation was part of the merger consideration for appraisal purposes under Delaware law, that receipt of the dividend did not disqualify stockholders from seeking appraisal, and that plaintiff’s claim regarding the structure, therefore, was properly dismissed. But the Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the related disclosure claim. The plaintiffs alleged that the director defendants, aided and abetted by the acquirer, had deprived stockholders of their appraisal rights by improperly describing what would be subject to appraisal. The Supreme Court agreed and held that the disclosures were confusing and materially misleading. The proxy stated that stockholders were entitled only to the amount that remained after the pre-closing dividend. But this was incorrect as a matter of Delaware law, as the stockholders were also entitled to appraisal for the pre-closing dividend. Two justices dissented from the majority’s holding regarding the disclosure claim.
Delaware Supreme Court Enforces Class Vote Requirement, Reasons There Is No Insolvency Exception to Section 271 Of The Delaware General Corporation Law
Stream TV Networks, Inc. v. SeeCubic, Inc., No. 360, 2021 (Del. June 15, 2022)
Section 271 of the Delaware General Corporation Law provides, among other things, that a majority vote of stockholders is required to sell all or substantially all of a corporation’s assets. As an issue of first impression, the Delaware Supreme Court reasoned that there is no insolvency exception to Section 271’s requirement of a stockholder majority vote. More ›
Diep v. Trimaran Pollo Partners, No. 313, 2021 (Del. June 28, 2022)
After the Court of Chancery denied an initial motion to dismiss, the company formed a special litigation committee (“SLC”) to investigate the claims and determine whether the company should allow the plaintiff to proceed, take over the litigation, or move to dismiss. The SLC investigated and then moved to dismiss the claims, which the Court of Chancery granted under Zapata. Among other rulings, the Supreme Court affirmed and upheld the Court of Chancery’s rejection of the plaintiff’s contention that the SLC did not meet its burden to establish the independence of the SLC members. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that the record did not establish that as directors the SLC members had specific knowledge of the facts and circumstances that led the Company, as nominal defendant, to join the initial motion to dismiss those claims that the SLC later was charged with investigating. Justice Valihura dissented because she believed that material issues of fact existed regarding the SLC members’ independence.
North American Leasing, Inc. v. NASDI Holdings, LLC, No. 192, 2020 (Del. Apr. 11, 2022)
Defendants acquired construction entities from plaintiffs and agreed to indemnify plaintiffs for any losses arising from performance and payment bonds on existing projects. Losses occurred in connection with one of the projects in 2017, and plaintiffs gave the defendants notice of indemnification claims for nearly $21 million. Defendants rejected the claims as untimely under the acquisition agreement, which they argued had a strict notice deadline of 2016. More ›
Cox Communications v. T-Mobile, No. 340, 2021 (Del. Mar. 3, 2022)
Delaware courts have a “general aversion” to enforcing agreements to agree. But Delaware law also recognizes enforceable preliminary agreements that create an obligation to try to negotiate a final agreement on all material terms in good faith. Here, two companies, Cox Communications and T-Mobile, disputed whether a particular provision of a settlement agreement was enforceable and to what extent. The provision related to Cox partnering with a mobile network provider and generally obligated Cox to negotiate with T-Mobile. Those negotiations failed, Cox partnered with Verizon, and this suit resulted. The Court of Chancery entered an injunction that enforced the provision by prohibiting Cox from partnering with another provider besides T-Mobile. On appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court vacated the injunction and reversed, finding the provision left open several material terms of a future definitive agreement, was not itself an enforceable agreement, and instead was a “Type II” preliminary agreement that obligated the parties to negotiate open items in good faith. The Supreme Court remanded the case for a determination of whether the parties fulfilled that obligation.
Delaware Supreme Court Permits Substitution of Bankruptcy Trustee as Plaintiff to Resolve “Procedural Conundrum”
Lenois v. Lawal, No. 33, 2021 (Del. Dec. 9, 2021)
A company’s bankruptcy filing during an appeal of a dismissal of a derivative action presents questions of who, if anyone, has the standing to pursue the company’s potential claims. As this case shows, Delaware is loathe to permit such claims to abate merely because the procedural path forward is unclear. More ›
Delaware Supreme Court Affirms that Seller’s Change of Business Operations in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Excused Buyer’s Obligation to Close
AB Stable VIII LLC v. Maps Hotels and Resorts One LLC, No. 71-2021 (Del. Dec. 8, 2021)
This Supreme Court decision affirms the Court of Chancery’s decision below (reported here) that a buyer’s obligation to purchase a $5.8 billion group of hotel properties was excused due to the seller’s failure to comply with a covenant that, between signing and closing, it would operate “only in the ordinary course of business, consistent with past practice in all material respects.” More ›
Delaware Supreme Court Overrules Gentile, Resolving Tension in Legal Test To Determine Whether a Claim Is Direct or Derivative
Brookfield Asset Mgmt., Inc. v. Rosson, No. 406, 2020 (Del. Sept. 20, 2021)
Seeking to bring clarity to the issue of whether a claim is direct or derivative—a potentially outcome-determinative issue—the Delaware Supreme Court overturned its own precedent in Gentile v. Rossette, 906 A.2d 91 (Del. 2006). More ›
Manti Holdings, LLC, et al. v. Authentix Acquisition Co., Inc., No. 354, 2020 (Del. Sept. 13, 2021)
This decision arose out of the acquisition of Authentix Acquisition Company, Inc. and a subsequent appraisal proceeding brought by dissenting stockholders under 8 Del. C. § 262. As a condition of an earlier merger involving the private equity firm Carlyle, the petitioners were parties to a stockholders agreement binding the corporation and all of its stockholders that purported to waive the stockholders’ statutory appraisal rights. At the trial court level, the Court of Chancery enforced the contractual waiver and granted the company’s motion to dismiss. On appeal, alongside other contentions, the petitioners argued that statutory appraisal rights are one of the fundamental features of corporate identity and should be found nonwaivable under Delaware law and public policy. More ›
Delaware Supreme Court Concludes Out-of-Pocket Damages Are the Default Remedy for Fraudulent Misrepresentation Absent an Enforceable Agreement
Delaware law recognizes both benefit-of-the-bargain damages and out-of-pocket damages as remedies for fraudulent misrepresentation, but the law was unsettled whether benefit-of-the-bargain damages were available absent an enforceable agreement. Here, the Delaware Supreme Court confirms that out-of-pocket damages are the default remedy in the absence of an agreement. More ›Share
Delaware Supreme Court Adopts Post-Merger Derivative Standing Framework From In re Primedia, Inc. Shareholders Litigation
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 ›Share
Delaware Supreme Court Finds that Court of Chancery Had Jurisdiction To Enjoin a Collateral Attack on a Prior Arbitration Award Under the Federal Arbitration Act
This decision confirms that the Court of Chancery has jurisdiction to enjoin a collateral attack on a prior arbitration award. The Delaware Supreme Court also reasons that the determination of whether a second arbitration collaterally attacks a prior arbitration does not depend on the res judicata or collateral estoppel effect of claims raised or decided in the prior arbitration, but rather whether the claimant asserts irregularities in the prior arbitration or seeks to rectify the harm it suffered, which are issues subject to exclusive review under the post-award procedure in the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). More ›Share
Delaware Supreme Court Affirms CCLD Ruling Relying on Expert’s “Dual Hypothetical World” Damages Model for Measuring Business-Interruption Loss
XL Ins. Am., Inc., et al. v. Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp., No. 444, 2019 (Del. Oct. 2, 2020)
An aluminum manufacturer (the “Insured”) decided not to rebuild and resume operations at its facility following two operation-disabling accidents. The Insured made a claim pursuant to its “all risks” property-insurance policy (the “Policy”) to recoup certain amounts including business-interruption losses. The insurers (the “Insurers”) and the Insured each hired expert forensic accountants who, relying on different damages models, rendered widely divergent calculations of the Insured’s loss. Following a seven day trial in Superior Court wherein both parties’ experts presented their methodologies for calculating the business-interruption losses, the jury found in favor of the Insured. More ›