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Showing 188 posts in Derivative Claims.

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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Chancery Follows Recent Precedent Finding Pre-Suit Correspondence to be a Litigation Demand, Dismisses Derivative Complaint for Failure to Allege Wrongful Refusal

Posted In Demand Refusal, Derivative Claims

Dahle v. Pope, C.A. No. 2019-0136-SG (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2020).

Incorporating the analysis set forth in Solak ex rel Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, Inc. v. Welch, 2019 WL 5588877 (Del. Ch. Oct. 30, 2019), the Court of Chancery again dismissed a derivative complaint under Rule 23.1 after finding that the plaintiffs’ pre-suit correspondence was a litigation demand. More ›

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Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Uber Derivative Action for Failure to Plead Demand Futility

Posted In Delaware Supreme Court, Derivative Claims

Mcelrath v. Kalanick, No. 181-2019 (Del. Jan. 13, 2020). 

This case exemplifies the Delaware courts’ approach to examining demand futility. In 2016, Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) acquired Ottomotto LLC (“Otto”), a company started by a contingent of employees from Google’s autonomous vehicles group, in order for Uber to gain expertise in developing autonomous vehicles. The shareholder-plaintiff brought a claim, on behalf of Uber, against some of Uber’s directors. The plaintiff alleged that Uber’s directors ignored the risks presented by Otto’s alleged theft of Google’s intellectual property, which eventually led to Uber paying a settlement of $245 million to Google and terminating its employment agreement with Otto’s founder. More ›

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Uber Board Was Disinterested and Independent to Assess a Pre-Suit Demand for Acquisition of Google Program

Posted In Derivative Claims

Uber Technologies’ board approved the acquisition of Google’s more mature autonomous vehicle program. The transaction was high risk and flawed from its inception, ending in embarrassment after Uber learned that key employees hired from Google had misappropriated Google’s proprietary information in the autonomous vehicle program. Uber issued $245 million in its stock to settle Google’s misappropriation claims. An Uber stockholder brought derivative claims against the Uber directors who approved the acquisition of Google’s autonomous vehicle program. More ›

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Chancery Addresses Discovery and Privilege Implications of Oracle Special Litigation Committee’s Decision to Defer to Stockholder-Plaintiff’s Prosecution of Derivative Claims

Posted In Derivative Claims, Privilege, Special Committees

In re Oracle Corp. Deriv. Litig., C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 4, 2019). 

In this decision, the Delaware Court of Chancery considered the implications of a decision by a special litigation committee of Oracle Corporation to cede control of derivative claims to a stockholder-plaintiff – including whether that decision required the production of Oracle’s privileged documents that were provided to the committee and its counsel. More ›

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Venture Capital Firms Did Not Constitute a Control Group Barring Stockholder Direct Claims for Dilution

Posted In Derivative Claims

Light bulbTo avoid demand futility and standing requirements for a derivative claim, the plaintiff stockholders in Sheldon v. Pinto Technology Ventures, No. 81, 2019 (Del. Oct. 4, 2019) attempted to plead a direct claim for dilution of their voting and economic interests by alleging that several venture capital firms constituted a “control group” of stockholders under Gentile.

Dilution claims are “classically derivative” under Delaware corporate law. In Gentile v. Rossette, 906 A.2d 91 (Del. 2006), the Delaware Supreme Court recognized an exception that dilution claims can be both derivative and direct in character when: “a stockholder having majority or effective control causes the corporation to issue ‘excessive’ shares of its stock in exchange for assets of the controlling stockholder that have a lesser value; and the exchange causes an increase in the percentage of the outstanding shares owned by the controlling stockholder, and a corresponding decrease in the share percentage owned by the public (minority) shareholders.” More ›

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Chancery Finds Request for “Corrective Action” to be a Litigation Demand, Dismisses Derivative Claims for Failure to Plead Wrongful Refusal

Posted In Derivative Claims

Solak v. Welch, et al., C.A. No. 2018-0810-KSJM (Del. Ch. Oct. 30, 2019).

Under the Delaware Supreme Court’s decision in Spiegel v. Buntrock, 571 A.2d 767 (Del. 1990), a stockholder who makes a demand upon the board to address potential wrongdoing concedes that the board may properly decide whether to cause the corporation to bring suit.  That concession makes it more difficult to satisfy pleading standards in a later derivative suit.  In this recent decision, the Court of Chancery reviewed the law in this area and concluded that – despite a disclaimer to the contrary – the plaintiff’s pre-suit letter was a litigation demand. More ›

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Delaware Supreme Court Provides Additional Guidance on Pleading Direct Claims Against Controllers and Control Groups

Posted In Controlling Stockholder, Delaware Supreme Court, Derivative Claims

Sheldon v. Pinto Technology Ventures, L.P., No. 81, 2019 (Del. Oct. 4, 2019).

The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Chancery’s dismissal of an alleged direct claim for dilution of the voting and economic interests of plaintiff stockholders because they failed to adequately plead that several venture capital firms constituted a “control group.”  The Court began its analysis with a review of the standard for a controller or control group under Delaware law.  In Gentile v. Rossette, 906 A.2d 91 (Del. 2006), the Court ruled that multiple stockholders can constitute a control group if they are connected in some legally significant way, such as by contract or other agreement, or working together towards a shared goal.  The Court noted the guideposts that define a “control group” established by In re Hansen Medical, Inc. Stockholders Litigation, 2018 WL 3025525 (Del. Ch. June 18, 2018) and van der Fluit v. Yates, 2017 WL 5953514 (Del. Ch. Nov. 30, 2017). More ›

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