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Showing 195 posts in Derivative Claims.

Chancery Rejects Challenge to Director’s Appointment and Dismisses Derivative Claims

Posted In Chancery, Demand Futility, Derivative Claims


Simons v. Brookfield Asset Mgmt., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0841-KSJM (Del. Ch. Jan. 21, 2022)
If a derivative plaintiff does not make a pre-suit demand on the board, then under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, the plaintiff must allege particularized facts demonstrating that demand would have been futile because a majority of the board was incapable of impartially considering a litigation demand.  More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Action Arising from $1.2 Billion Stock Sale Based on Plaintiffs’ Failure to Plead Demand Futility

Posted In Chancery, Demand Futility, Derivative Claims


In re Kraft Heinz Co. Deriv. Litig., Cons. C.A. No. 2019-0587-LWW (Del. Ch. Dec. 15, 2021)
The Court of Chancery dismissed an insider-trading action on the grounds that plaintiffs failed to plead that a majority of a company’s board was not disinterested or independent. By way of background, an investment firm held 24 percent of a publicly-traded Delaware company and rights to three seats on an eleven-member board. At an August 2018 meeting, the board received information that the company likely would miss annual financial targets. Four days later, the investment firm sold nearly a third of its stake, for more than $1.2 billion. The stock sale occurred after the investment firm provided the company with a statement that the firm was not in possession of any material, nonpublic information, and after the company’s board approved lifting insider restrictions that permitted the firm to sell the shares. Three months later, the company disclosed disappointing financial results, and the stock price dropped significantly. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Suit Involving Wayfair and Challenging Debt Issuance to Private Equity Shareholders for Failure to Make Demand

Posted In Chancery, Derivative Claims


Equity-League Pension Trust Fund v. Great Hill Partners, L.P., C.A. No. 2020-0992-SG (Del. Ch. Nov. 23, 2021)
A derivative suit brought on behalf of online home goods retailer, Wayfair, challenged the issuance of $535 million in convertible debt early in the COVID-19 pandemic to certain of Wayfair’s private equity investors and their affiliates. The transaction was recommended by a transaction committee and an audit committee, and was ultimately approved by the Wayfair board. The defendants moved to dismiss under Rule 23.1 arguing that the plaintiff was required but failed to make a pre-suit demand on the Wayfair board. Plaintiff argued that demand was futile because, in addition to the four directors who were on the buy-side of the transaction and thus interested, three directors sitting on the audit committee faced a substantial likelihood of liability. Plaintiff needed to sufficiently allege that at least one of the audit committee members was conflicted to arrive at a majority of the board for demand futility purposes. Finding that plaintiff had failed to adequately plead demand futility, the Court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss. More ›

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Chancery Holds Plaintiffs Adequately Pled Wrongful Refusal Where Board Did Not Correct Unauthorized Charter Amendments

Posted In Chancery, Demand Refusal, Derivative Claims


Drachman v. Cukier, C.A. No. 2019-0728-LWW (Del. Ch. Oct. 29, 2021)
To survive a motion to dismiss in the demand refusal context, the plaintiff must allege facts that create a reasonable doubt that the board’s decision to deny the demand was consistent with its duty of care to act on an informed basis or that the board acted in good faith, consistent with its duty of loyalty. Where the board’s response and other circumstances give rise to a reasonable inference that directors did not care about a clear, continuing violation of law, the standard for wrongful refusal may be met.  More ›

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In Recent Facebook Decisions, Chancery Permits Demand-Futility Plaintiffs to Proceed Before Demand-Refused Plaintiff

Posted In Demand Futility, Demand Refusal, Derivative Claims


Feuer v. Zuckerberg, C.A. No. 2019-0324-JRS & In re Facebook, Inc. Deriv. Litig., Consol. C.A. 2018-0307 (Del. Ch. Oct. 5, 2021), rearg. denied (Del. Ch. Nov. 8, 2021)
Recent decisions in the Facebook derivative litigation addressed issues of case management where competing groups of derivative plaintiffs disagree about whether making a pre-litigation demand upon the board was futile, and where disputes are raised about whether the suits should be consolidated, and which theories should proceed first. More ›

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Chancery Applies Recent Zuckerberg Decision and Holds That Demand Was Not Excused

Posted In Chancery, Demand Futility, Derivative Claims


Genworth Fin., Inc. Consol. Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 11901-VCS (Del. Ch. Sept. 29, 2021)
In a demand futility analysis, Delaware courts have traditionally applied the Rales and Aronson decisions. However, the Delaware Supreme Court recently adopted the Zuckerberg test. Under this new three-part test, Delaware courts ask: (1) whether the director received a material personal benefit from the alleged misconduct of the litigation demand; (2) whether the director would face a substantial likelihood of liability on any of the claims that are the subject of the litigation demand; and (3) whether the director lacks independence from someone who received a material benefit from the alleged misconduct that is the subject of the litigation demand or who would face a substantial likelihood of liability on any of the claims that are subject to the litigation demand. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Claims That Private Equity Sponsors Comprised A Control Group

Posted In Chancery, Controlling Stockholder, Demand Futility, Derivative Claims


Patel v. Duncan, C.A. No. 2020-0418-MTZ (Del. Ch. Sept. 30, 2021)
For stockholders to comprise a control group, the alleged group members must be connected in some “legally significant way – such as by contract, common ownership, agreement or another arrangement – to work together toward a shared goal.” Sheldon v. Pinto Tech. Ventures, L.P., 220 A.3d 245, 251-52 (Del. 2019). There must be “an indication of an actual agreement, although it need not be formal or written.” Id. Here, the court dismissed a claim alleging that two private equity funds comprised a control group that agreed to cause the corporation to engage in two unfair, self-interested transactions as a quid pro quo arrangement between them. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged they agreed to cause the corporation to overpay in two successive transactions in which the counterparties who benefitted unfairly were affiliates of the respective private equity funds.  More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Derivative Claims Alleging Insider Trading and Misleading Disclosures for Failure to Plead Demand Futility

Posted In Chancery, Demand Futility, Derivative Claims, Disclosure Claims


In re Zimmer Biomet Hldgs., Inc. Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2019-0455-LWW (Del. Ch. Aug. 25, 2021)
Under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, a stockholder-plaintiff may only bring a derivative suit on behalf of a company if the plaintiff (i) first makes a demand on the board to bring suit and is wrongfully refused, or (ii) adequately pleads that a demand would have been futile because the directors were incapable of impartially considering it. Here, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, because the stockholder-plaintiff failed to allege facts that a majority of the board of directors – who concededly were otherwise disinterested and independent – faced a substantial risk of personal liability. More ›

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Chancery Grants Special Litigation Committee’s Zapata Motion, Finds Committee Was Sufficiently Independent and Reasonable


Diep v. Sather, C.A. No. 12760-CM (Del. Ch. July 30, 2021)
Under Zapata, when analyzing a motion to dismiss by a special litigation committee, the court evaluates whether the committee was independent, acted in good faith, and had a reasonable basis for its conclusions. The court then applies its own independent business judgment to determine whether dismissal is in the best interest of the corporation. Here, the plaintiff challenged the independence of the special litigation committee and the reasonableness of its investigation and findings. More ›

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Chancery Confirms the Challenges in Pleading Caremark and Non-Shareholder Action Disclosure Claims

Posted In Caremark, Demand Futility, Derivative Claims, Disclosure Claims


Fisher v. Sanborn, C.A. No. 2019-0631-AGB (Del. Ch. Mar. 30, 2021)

Under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, a plaintiff attempting to bring a derivative action on behalf of a corporation faces a heightened “particularized” pleading standard. This pleading challenge is compounded when a plaintiff attempts to bring a Caremark failure of oversight claim – “possibly the most difficult theory in corporate law.” Similarly, a plaintiff alleging false or misleading disclosures not made in connection with soliciting shareholder action faces the additional pleading challenge of demonstrating that those disclosures were knowing or deliberate. More ›

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Chancery Excuses Demand Where General Partner and its Controller Faced Substantial Likelihood of Liability

Posted In Chancery, Derivative Claims, Limited Partnerships

Lipman v. GBP Capital Holdings, LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0054-SG (Del. Ch. Nov. 18, 2020)

In derivative actions, a plaintiff must either make a pre-suit demand or plead with particularity why demand should be excused. As this case shows, the facts that must be pled differ when the demand would be made upon the general partner in a limited partnership as opposed to a corporate board. More ›

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Chancery Questions Utility of Aronson Test, Dismisses Derivative Suit of Facebook Stockholder for Failure To Allege Demand Futility

Posted In Demand Futility, Derivative Claims

United Food and Comm. Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, C.A. No. 2018-0671-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2020)
In its recent decision in United Food and Comm. Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, the Court of Chancery discussed the legal tests to demonstrate demand futility in derivative actions under the seminal cases of Aronson and Rales. Reconciling longstanding and recent case law, the Court ruled that demand futility turns on whether at the time of filing of the complaint, the majority of a board of directors is disinterested, independent, and capable of impartially evaluating a litigation demand to bring suit on behalf of a company. More ›

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Chancery Denies Derivative Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Work Product Prepared by Oracle’s Special Litigation Committee

Posted In Chancery, Derivative Claims, Discovery, Privilege

In re Oracle Corp. Derivative Litig., C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. July 9, 2020)

After investigating certain potential derivative claims arising out of Oracle Corporation’s acquisition of NetSuite, Inc., and after trying unsuccessfully to settle those claims, Oracle’s Special Litigation Committee (“SLC”) agreed that permitting a derivative plaintiff to pursue those claims was in Oracle’s best interests. This opinion concerns the lead derivative plaintiff’s subsequent motion to compel, which sought the production of forty-two documents the SLC withheld on work product grounds. The documents at issue were the SLC’s counsel’s notes and memoranda of witness interviews, factual summaries prepared by the SLC’s counsel, counsel’s draft report to the SLC, and financial analyses and damages models prepared by or at the direction of the SLC’s counsel. The Court found that all forty-two documents were protected work product because they were created in anticipation of litigation in order to aid the SLC in connection with this action. In addition, the documents were afforded a higher degree of protection as opinion work product because they also reflected attorney thoughts and impressions. More ›

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Chancery Compares Aronson and Rales Tests for Demand Futility; Finds Well-Pled Caremark Claim Showing No Good Faith Effort to Oversee Financial Reporting and Related-Party Transactions Made Demand Futile

Posted In Caremark Claims, Demand Futility, Derivative Claims

Hughes v. Hu, C.A. No. 2019-0112-JTL (Del. Ch. Apr. 27, 2020).

Everyone from bar applicants to seasoned litigators and counsel advising boards of directors can find something of interest in Hughes v. Hu, which (i) provides a comprehensive review of how the Court of Chancery evaluates demand futility in derivative actions and (ii) discusses the type of allegations that will support a well-pled Caremark claim for failure to take affirmative steps to ensure an effective board-level monitoring reporting system is in place. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses GoPro Derivative Action for Failure to Allege Directors Intentionally Made Inflated Revenue Forecasts or Failed to Exercise Appropriate Caremark Oversight

Posted In Demand Futility, Derivative Claims

In re GoPro, Inc. S’holder Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2018-0784-JRS (Del. Ch. Apr. 28, 2020)

This opinion serves as a reminder that particularized allegations of non-exculpated wrongdoing are necessary to support the contention that a demand would be futile. Vice Chancellor Joseph R. Slights, III dismissed a breach of fiduciary duty derivative action for failure to allege demand futility with the detail prescribed by Chancery Court Rule 23.1. The plaintiffs, GoPro, Inc. stockholders, filed suit against officers and directors after complications with the launch of a new drone caused the company to miss its revenue forecast. The complaint alleged that pre-suit demand was futile because a majority of the board faced liability for its knowledge of, but failure to disclose, the company’s revenue shortfall and were beholden to the CEO/controlling stockholder such that they could not exercise independence. The missed revenue projections also spurred a federal securities class action suit, naming three of the same defendants, where a ruling denying a dismissal motion found that the class plaintiffs well pled that the named overlapping defendants made false or misleading statements regarding the drone. More ›

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