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Showing 288 posts in Fiduciary Duty.

Chancery Finds Defendant Officer Usurped Corporate Opportunity for His Own Competing Venture

Posted In Chancery, Corporate Opportunity Doctrine, Fiduciary Duty


Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. v. Mack, C.A. No. 2021-0210-PAF (Del. Ch. September 1, 2023)
Under the corporate opportunity doctrine, an officer or director may not take a corporate opportunity for himself if "(1) the corporation is financially able to exploit the opportunity; (2) the opportunity is within the corporation's line of business; (3) the corporation has an interest or expectancy in the opportunity; and (4) by taking the opportunity for his own, the corporate fiduciary will thereby be placed in a position inimical to his duties to the corporation.” Broz v. Cellular Info. Sys., Inc., 673 A.2d 148, 154-55 (Del. 1996). In this post-trial opinion, the Court of Chancery held that a co-founder and former CEO who stayed on as President following his sale of the company to a strategic acquirer breached his fiduciary duties by usurping its corporate opportunities. While the defendant argued the company lacked the resources to pursue the opportunity, the Court reasoned that there was "no structural or situational barrier" to the company obtaining the capital needed. The Court did not credit the defendant's argument that the company was not likely to pursue the opportunities. The Court also explained that the corporate opportunity "test focuses on the company's ability to pursue the opportunity, not the board's likelihood of actually deciding to do so." The Court also found that the third prong was met because the opportunities were in the same line of business in which the company operated, but the defendant had usurped them for his own venture. It accordingly found the defendant liable and ordered supplemental briefing regarding the appropriate remedies.

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Chancery Upholds Claims Against LLC Officers and Others Arising from Squeeze-Out of Minority Unitholders

Posted In Chancery, Directors and Officers, Fiduciary Duty, LLCs


Cygnus Opportunity Fund, LLC v. Washington Prime Group, LLC, C.A. No. 2022-0718-JTL (Del. Ch. Aug. 9, 2023)
An Indiana corporation reorganized via bankruptcy into a Delaware LLC, and a senior note holder negotiated for nearly 90 percent of the equity. The LLC agreement required that at least one member of the five-member board of managers be independent. It prohibited the controller from acquiring additional shares or squeezing out the minority without approval of the majority of independent managers or a majority of votes cast by minority unitholders. It also required the controller to provide notice of a proposed squeeze-out so that minority unitholders would have the option to challenge the fairness of the transaction unless it had received approval from a majority of the minority or a minority-approved independent manager. More ›

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Chancery Adopts Heightened Standard for Supplemental Disclosure Mootness Fee Awards in M&A Litigation

Posted In Attorneys’ Fees, Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, M&A


Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 2021-0202-KSJM (Del. Ch. July 6, 2023)
This opinion clamps down on mootness fee awards for immaterial supplemental disclosures in connection with M&A transactions. It announces that future mootness fees for supplemental disclosure will only be awarded where such disclosures are “material” not merely “helpful,” and even when such fees are awarded, they may be much lower than those awarded historically. More ›

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Chancery Finds that Acquiror Aided and Abetted Breaches of Fiduciary Duties by Exploiting Management’s Conflicts of Interest


In re Columbia Pipeline Group Merger Litig., Consol. C.A. No. 2018-0484-JTL (Del. Ch. June 30, 2023)
To establish a claim for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duties, a plaintiff must show “i) the existence of a fiduciary relationship giving rise to a duty to the plaintiff, (ii) a breach of that duty by the fiduciary, (iii) knowing participation in the breach by the defendant, and (iv) damages proximately caused by the breach.” Id. at 94. The plaintiffs alleged that TransCanada, the acquirer in the merger transaction, aided and abetted a breach of fiduciary duties in the merger sale process and in disclosures to the stockholders in connection with the merger vote. More ›

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Chancery Denies Books and Records Request Related to Disney’s Opposition to Florida Legislation Prohibiting LGBTQ+ Topics in Classrooms

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery, Fiduciary Duty


Simeone v. The Walt Disney Company, C.A. No. 2022-1120-LWW (Del. Ch. June 27, 2023)
The Walt Disney Company opposed Florida legislation that limits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms. The Governor of Florida responded by threatening the revocation of tax-favorable treatment for Disney. The plaintiff filed a books and records demand and then litigation, alleging that Disney's opposition to the legislation put at risk Disney's tax-favorable treatment and that Disney's directors and officers may have breached their fiduciary duties by putting their own beliefs ahead of their obligations to stockholders. More ›

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Following Flawed Business Acquisition, Chancery Dismisses Derivative Complaint for Failure to Plead Demand Futility

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


City of Coral Springs Police Officers' Pension Plan v. Dorsey, C.A. No. 2022-0091-KSJM (Del. Ch. May 9, 2023)
A terrible business decision does not ensure the Court of Chancery will sustain a derivative claim. A derivative plaintiff still must allege that a board of directors wrongfully refused a stockholder's demand to bring suit or that making a demand on the board would be futile because a majority of the board either was interested in the transaction or would face a substantial likelihood of liability for approving the transaction, or was dependent on someone who was interested or faced a substantial likelihood of liability. More ›

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Entire Fairness Standard Applied to Transaction Benefitting Controllers of Controllers

Posted In Chancery, Controlling Stockholder, Fiduciary Duty, M&A


Tueza v. Lindon, C.A. No. 2022-0130-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 27, 2023)
Because controlling stockholders of Delaware corporations owe fiduciary duties to both the corporation and to its minority stockholders, the Court of Chancery will subject a transaction involving the company to entire fairness review if a controller receives a non-ratable benefit from a transaction. This case confronts a more nuanced question: Does entire fairness apply if the non-ratable benefit goes not to the controller but to a separate entity controlled by the controller's controllers? More ›

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Chancery Court Again Applies Entire Fairness to Claims Challenging SPAC Transaction

Posted In Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, M&A, SPAC


Laidlaw v. GigAcquisitions2, LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0821-LWW (Del. Ch. Mar. 1, 2023)
In the aftermath of a SPAC merger, the plaintiff (a public stockholder) brought claims for breaches of fiduciary duty against the SPAC's board and sponsor, as controllers, for issuing an allegedly false and misleading proxy statement. According to the plaintiff, the proxy statement failed to disclose the net cash per share that the SPAC would contribute to the merger, which in turn misrepresented the anticipated value of post-merger shares, and that such information was material to the decisions of public stockholders whether to invest in the post-merger company or to redeem their SPAC investments. Plaintiff alleged that the sponsor and board were incentivized to minimize redemptions in order to secure returns for the sponsor, which purchased a 20% stake in the post-merger company at a nominal price. More ›

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Plaintiff Overcomes Rule 23.1 In Walmart Opioids Litigation Based In Part On Over-Redacted Documents In Books And Records Productions

Posted In Books and Records, Chancery, Fiduciary Duty


Ontario Provincial Council of Carpenters’ Pension Trust Fund v. Walton, C.A. No. 2021-0827-JTL (Del. Ch. Apr. 26, 2023)
To assert a derivative claim, a stockholder plaintiff must plead demand futility. The plaintiffs advanced three types of claims relating to Walmart’s distribution of opioids: a Massey Claim (i.e., affirmative law-breaking claim), a Red-Flags Claim (i.e., a species of a Caremark claim), and an Information-Systems Claim (i.e., a species of a Caremark claim). The Massey Claim asserted that Walmart’s directors and officers knew that Walmart was failing to comply with its legal obligations and made a conscious decision to prioritize profits over compliance. The Red-Flags Claim asserted that a series of red flags put Walmart’s directors and officers on notice of Walmart’s noncompliance or potential corporate trauma, but the directors and officers consciously ignored them. The Information-Systems Claim asserted that Walmart’s directors and officers knew that they had an obligation to establish a monitoring system to address a core compliance risk, but consciously failed to make a good faith effort to fulfill that obligation. More ›

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Chancery Rules That Separate Accrual Periods Apply to an Information Systems Caremark Claim in Walmart Opioid Litigation

Posted In Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, Statute of Limitations


Ontario Provincial Council of Carpenters' Pension Trust Fund v. Walton, C.A. No. 2021-0827-JTL (Del. Ch. Apr. 12, 2023)
To determine the limitations period under laches, a court must determine when a claim accrued. Delaware courts have considered three different approaches to claim accrual: the discrete act approach, the separate accrual approach, and the continuing wrong approach. More ›

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Chancery Finds for Defendants in Challenge to Oracle Acquisition of NetSuite

Posted In Chancery, Controlling Stockholder, Fiduciary Duty, M&A


In re Oracle Corporation Derivative Litigation, Consol. C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. May 12, 2023)
In this “vigorously litigated” matter, the Plaintiffs argued that Oracle’s founder and current officer and director, Larry Ellison, manipulated a special committee of Oracle’s board to overpay for NetSuite, another company in which Ellison was a substantial investor. Plaintiffs offered two theories to bring the transaction within the entire fairness standard of review: first, that Ellison was a controller who sat on both sides of the transaction, and second, that Ellison, on his own and with Oracle CEO Safra Catz, misled the Oracle board and special committee, and thus the transaction was a product of fraud. Post-trial, the Court of Chancery rejected both theories, applied the business judgment rule, and found for the defendants. More ›

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Director violated Revlon Duties by Tilting the Sales Process in favor of the Buyer

Posted In Chancery, Disclosure Claims, Fiduciary Duty, M&A


In re Mindbody Inc. Stockholder Litig., C.A. No. 2019-0442-KSJM (Del. Ch. Mar. 15, 2023)
Under Revlon, to demonstrate that they satisfied their fiduciary duties in connection with a sale of control, directors bear the burden of establishing both the reasonableness of their decision-making process and the reasonableness of their actions in light of the circumstances then present. As the Court reasoned in a prior opinion in this action (discussed here), "[t]he paradigmatic Revlon claim involves a conflicted fiduciary who is insufficiently checked by the board and who tilts the sale process toward his own personal interests in ways inconsistent with maximizing stockholder value." More ›

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Chancery Holds Stockholders Can Assert Disclosure Claims on Behalf of Other Stockholders but Must Do So Through a Derivative Action

Posted In Chancery, Disclosure Claims, Fiduciary Duty, M&A


New Enterprise Associates 14, L.P. vs. Rich, C.A. No. 2022-0406-JTL (Del. Ch. March 9, 2023)
Delaware law establishes that directors owe a duty of disclosure which arises as "the application in a specific context of the board's fiduciary duties…." In this case, stockholders asserted various claims against the board, including an allegation that the company's directors breached a duty of disclosure to other stockholders, which injured the plaintiffs when those stockholders were misled into approving a dilutive stock offering. This decision finds that the stockholder-plaintiffs can assert such a cause of action but that the resulting claim is derivative. More ›

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Chancery Dismisses Oversight Claim Based on Board’s Response to Red Flags

Posted In Caremark, Chancery, Fiduciary Duty


In re McDonald's Corp. Stockholder Derivative Litig., CA No. 2021-0324-JTL (Del. Ch. March 1, 2023)
A plaintiff can plead an oversight claim against a board by alleging particularized facts to support an inference that the directors either: (1) utterly failed to implement a reporting or information system or controls or (2) consciously failed to monitor or oversee the business and, as a result, disabled themselves from being informed of problems or risks that required their attention. A "prong-two" failure to monitor Caremark claim, or "red flags" claim, requires that the plaintiff plead that the board's information system generated red flags and that the board subsequently failed to respond and address the red flags. More ›

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Chancery Examines Director’s Personal Ties and Dismisses Duty of Loyalty Claim

Posted In Chancery, Fiduciary Duty, Independence, M&A


In re Orbit/FR, Inc. S’holders Litig., C.A. No. 2018-0340-SG (Jan. 24, 2023)
This decision involved a stockholder challenge to a merger between Orbit and its controller, Microwave Vision. A certain director who served on a special committee was alleged to have breached his fiduciary duty of loyalty in approving the transaction, arising out of his alleged conflict as an employee beholden to the controller for his job. After admitting the allegation of an employment relationship was a mistake, the plaintiff shifted to alleging the director lacked independence based on his personal relationship with another director, who served on the boards of both Orbit and Microwave Vision. The two directors had been neighbors, their children were contemporaries, and they frequently went bicycling together years earlier. On a motion to dismiss, the Court of Chancery found that these "casual sharing of interests between neighbors” did not give rise to a conflict for the at-issue director and did not support a non-exculpated duty of loyalty claim against him.

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