Showing 13 posts in Earn-Out.
Superior Court Orders Earn-Out Payment under Ambiguous Merger Agreement after Defendant Withheld Documents in Discovery
Fortis Advisors, LLC v. Dematic Corp., C.A. No. N18C-12-104 AML CCLD (Del. Super. Dec. 29, 2022)
Defendant acquired the plaintiff's hardware and software solutions business. The merger agreement required the defendant to make contingent payments if the company achieved performance targets. The targets were based on EBITDA calculations and sales of "Company Products," which the merger agreement referred to in a disclosure schedule that contained descriptions of products’ functionalities. Under the agreement, the defendant committed to incentivizing its sales force to sell Company Products and integrating the products into its own products and services. At the end of the earn-out period, the defendant reported low sales and EBITDA. From limited documentation, the plaintiff was able to determine that defendant based its calculations only on the acquired products, not an integrated portfolio. Plaintiff filed suit for breach of contract, alleging that the defendant either failed to incentivize its sales force and integrate the products, or had failed to properly account for "Company Products" when calculating contingent payments. More ›
Chancery Declines to Order Acquirer to Make Contingent Payments after Discontinuing Development of a Medical Product
Pavel Menn v. ConMed Corp., C.A. No. 2017-0137-KSJM (Del. Ch. June 30, 2022)
Plaintiff was a representative of stockholders who had entered into a stock purchase agreement (“SPA”), in which the defendant acquired a company engaged in developing a medical product. The SPA allocated the risk of continued development via a contingent payment structure, including milestone payments and earn-out payments. The defendant agreed to use “commercially best efforts” to maximize the payments, and to accelerate the payments to the stockholders if the defendant permanently discontinued development or sale of the product, except for certain reasons, including risk of injury to patients. After making several milestone payments, the defendant discontinued development due to concerns of the risk of injury to patients. The plaintiff demanded acceleration payments and brought claims when defendant declined to make these payments. More ›
Chancery Dismisses Implied Covenant Claim For Former Stockholders’ Alleged Improper Demands That Company Take Actions To Achieve Earn-out Milestones
Pacira Biosciences, Inc. v. Fortis Advisors LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0694-PAF (Del. Ch. Oct. 25, 2021)
There generally cannot be a claim under the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing for conduct that is addressed by the plain language of an agreement. Even when a contract is silent, the Court will not use the covenant to rewrite the contract to imply contractual provisions that a party failed to obtain at the bargaining table. More ›
Chancery Addresses When an Efforts Clause-Based Earnout Claim May Ripen
S’holder Representative Servs., LLC v. Alexion Pharm., Inc., C.A. No. 2020-1069-MTZ (Del. Ch. Sep. 1, 2021)
Mergers and sale agreements frequently include earn-out provisions that entitle one party to future compensation if certain business or financial goals are met within a defined period. In return, the other party often must use a defined level of effort—such as “commercially reasonable” efforts—to achieve the goals that trigger the earn-out. This case addresses a practical threshold question: If the party entitled to the earn-out believes that the other party has breached its duty to use commercially reasonable efforts, may that party sue immediately, or must that party wait until the earn-out period ends? More ›
Chancery Holds That Claim Based on Purposeful Tanking of Merger Agreement Earnout Is Breach of Contract Claim
Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Albertson’s Companies, C.A. No. 2020-0710-JRS (Del. Ch. June 7, 2021)
Many merger agreements include earnout provisions under which the stockholders in the acquired company are entitled to additional consideration upon the occurrence of certain financial milestones. In this case, the Court of Chancery analyzed and considered the appropriate way to plead claims that the acquirer purposefully operated the company to miss earnout milestones. More ›
Chancery Refuses to Enforce Alleged Contractual Rights Not Obtained at the “Negotiating Table”
Obsidian Fin. Grp., LLC v. Identity Theft Guard Solutions, Inc., C.A. No: 2020-0485-JRS (Del. Ch. Apr. 22, 2021)
Delaware is “more contractarian” than many other jurisdictions. Accordingly, as this case illustrates, a court applying Delaware law will respect parties’ contractual choices and will not enforce alleged contractual rights not reflected in the plain language of the agreement. More ›
Chancery Enters Judgment for Seller On Post-Closing Milestone Payment Claim Because Buyer Failed to Establish Occurrence of Condition Subsequent
Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Shire US Holdings, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 2017-0863 KSJM (Del. Ch. Oct. 12, 2020)
After the purchaser of a drug manufacturer failed to make a post-closing milestone payment required under the applicable merger agreement, the seller filed a two count complaint in the Court of Chancery for breach of contract and attorneys’ fees. In a post-trial opinion, Vice Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick concluded that a condition subsequent that would have relieved the buyer of its milestone payment obligation had not, in fact, occurred. The Vice Chancellor entered judgment for the seller and awarded attorneys’ fees based upon a prevailing party provision of the merger agreement. More ›
Chancery Orders Trial to Determine Meaning of Ambiguous Post-Closing Covenants in a Stock Purchase Agreement
Schneider Nat’l Carriers, Inc. v. Kuntz, C.A. No. 2017-0711-PAF (Del. Ch. July 16, 2020)
If parties to a contract offer reasonable but conflicting interpretations of ambiguous contractual language, the Court of Chancery may deny summary judgment and order trial for purposes of weighing conflicting extrinsic evidence and witness testimony to interpret the meaning of the contractual language. More ›
Delaware Superior Court Interprets Contractual Language Governing Earn-out Payment
B&C Holdings, Inc. v. Temperatsure Holdings, LLC, C.A. No. N19C-02-105 AML CCLD (Del. Super. Apr. 22, 2020).
As this decision demonstrates, Delaware courts will enforce the plain and ordinary meaning of contractual terms governing an earn-out payment, including the process by which a payment is to be calculated, noticed, and contested. More ›Share
Post-Closing Earn-Out Claims Dismissed, But Fiduciary Duty Claims Against Former Director Survive
Neurvana Medical, LLC v Balt USA, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0034-KSJM (Del. Ch. Feb. 27, 2020).
Neurvana Medical, LLC (“Neurvana”) sold a medical device to Balt USA, LLC (“Balt USA”), largely for post-closing consideration if the device obtained regulatory approval. Balt USA was required to use commercially-reasonable efforts to obtain the approval, but otherwise, Balt USA had sole discretion over the process. More ›Share
Delaware Superior Court Distinguishes Between Affirmative and Negative Covenants in Earnout Dispute
Quarum v. Mitchell Int’l, Inc., C.A. No. N19C-03-087 AML CCLD (Del. Super. Jan. 21, 2020).
Under Delaware law, parties may structure covenants in an earnout agreement as affirmative (mandating action) or negative (prohibiting action). Given the important differences in the obligations these types of covenants impose, as illustrated by this decision, parties should carefully consider the contractual language in drafting. More ›Share
Delaware Superior Court Finds Purchase Agreement Language Limits the Scope of Possible Claims Concerning Earn-Out Dispute
Collab9, LLC v. En Pointe Technologies Sales, LLC, C.A. No. N16C-12-032 (MMJ) (CCLD) (Del. Super. Sept. 17, 2019).
Under an asset purchase agreement (“APA”), the purchaser (“PCM”) acquired substantially all of the assets of the “En Pointe” business from the seller (“Collab9”). The APA provided for an earn-out payment, calculated upon a percentage of En Pointe’s Adjusted Gross Profit over several years. The APA provided that the purchaser “shall have sole discretion with regard to all matters relating to the operation of the Business.” The agreement further disclaimed any express or implied obligation on the part of the purchaser to take any action, or omit to take any action, to maximize the earn-out amount, and stated that the purchaser “owes no duty, as a fiduciary or otherwise” to the seller. The APA also contained a clear combined integration and anti-reliance provision. More ›Share
Chancery Addresses Earn-Out Dispute and Referee Process
Windy City Investments Holdings LLC v. Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America f/k/a Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund, C. A. No. 2018-0419-MTZ (Del. Ch. May 31, 2019).
Claims seeking to enforce earn-outs are frequent. Parties often contractually agree that earn-out disputes are subject to an expert determination, rather than litigation in a judicial forum, and courts often dismiss disputes on that basis. This case arises in the somewhat familiar scenario where the parties’ dispute concerns contractual provisions related to, but not subject to, that expert determination, and thus falls within a court’s purview. More ›Share