Showing 18 posts in Fraud.
In re P3 Health Grp. Hldgs., LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0518-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2022)
This recent decision addresses three points of interest relevant to fraud claims.
First, while fraud claims generally involve statements of fact, future projections can support a fraud claim. The statement of future projection must be sufficiently specific, and the plaintiff must plead that the projection was fraudulently conceived. In this case, the Court of Chancery found plaintiff had sufficiently pleaded a fraud claim based on a specific EBITDA projection figure for the current year in which the statement was made. According to the plaintiff, the company missed the projected EBITDA number by roughly $52 million, with a projected EBITDA of $12.7 million and actual year-end results of negative $40 million. Because it was a near-term projection, and one reasonably conceivable inference from the large difference was that the defendant knowingly made a false representation, the Court found the plaintiff sufficiently pleaded a fraud claim based on the EBITDA projection. More ›
Superior Court Finds that Non-Recourse Provision Does Not Bar Fraud Claims Against Non-Seller Defendants
Amerimark Interactive LLC v. Amerimark Holdings, C.A. No. N21C-12-175 MMJ CCLD (Del. Super. Nov. 3, 2022)
This decision discusses and applies numerous rules governing fraud claims under Delaware law. For instance, an anti-reliance provision eliminates extra-contractual fraud claims while preserving intra-contractual fraud claims, and a non-recourse provision limits the entities and people against whom a claim can be brought. And, in Online HealthNow, Inv. v. CIP OCL Investments, LLC, 2021 WL 3557857 (Del. Ch. 2021), the Court of Chancery determined that a non-recourse provision did not bar claims against a non-signatory party. Here, the Superior Court applied Online HealthNow and held that fraud claims against non-seller defendants who allegedly were knowingly complicit in contractual fraud were not barred by the non-recourse and anti-reliance provisions of the agreement at issue.
Trust Robin, Inc. v. Tissue Analytics, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-0806-SG (Del. Ch. Sep. 29, 2022)
After initially questioning its own subject matter jurisdiction in a dispute involving allegations of breach of contract and tort in connection with a services agreement, the Court of Chancery concluded that the plaintiff’s equitable fraud claim was not “simply a makeweight equitable hook” attached to its legal claims. The plaintiff sufficiently alleged a special relationship between the plaintiff and defendant, and it was possible that the plaintiff could recover for equitable, but not legal, fraud. The Court’s reasoning cited the alignment of the parties’ interests, the defendant’s control over the parties’ joint purpose by virtue of controlling certain intellectual property and other proprietary information belonging to the plaintiff, and the defendant’s alleged use of that control to engage in self-dealing. Therefore, the Court permitted the matter to proceed.
Court of Chancery Holds That Exclusive Remedy Provisions Alone Are Not Enough To Bar Fraud Claims Based On Extra-Contractual Statements
Fortis Advisors LLC v. Johnson & Johnson, C.A. No. 2020-0881-LLW(Del. Ch. Dec. 13, 2021)
Delaware public policy respects freedom of contract, but it is also intolerant of fraud. These dueling policy aims are often pitted against one another in the context of complex commercial transactions, where the contracting parties agree to allocate risk – including limitations on the information relied on in entering the transaction. Delaware courts have struck a balance: contractual disclaimers of reliance are permitted, but they must be express and limited to the other party’s extra-contractual statements. Here, the Court of Chancery considered whether an exclusive remedies provision was alone sufficient to disclaim reliance on extra-contractual statements. More ›
Online Healthnow, Inc. v. CIP OCL Investments, LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0654-JRS (Del. Ch. Aug. 12, 2021)
Online Healthnow concerns “contractual fraud claims,” meaning a statement made in the agreement itself that is known to be false by the party making the statement and on which the counterparty relies to its detriment. Under a prior Court of Chancery decision in ABRY Partners V, L.P. v. F&W Acquisition LLC, 891 A.2d 1032 (Del. Ch. 2006), a seller cannot contractually eliminate its liability for engaging in knowing contractual fraud through provisions regarding anti-reliance and knowledge, and cannot rely on contractual caps for indemnity to limit the recovery for contractual fraud. This decision addressed the sellers’ unsuccessful attempt to limit the reach of ABRY Partners based on the relevant agreement’s survival clause purporting to terminate the challenged contractual representations at closing and the combination of anti-reliance and non-recourse provisions involving certain defendants. More ›
Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division Reaffirms Delaware’s Public Policy Against Intra-Contractual Fraud
Aveanna Healthcare, LLC v. Epic/Freedom LLC, N20C-08-055 AML CCLD (July 29, 2021).
Under Delaware law, parties may agree contractually to disclaim reliance – and potential liability for fraud – based on false extra-contractual statements. Delaware public policy, however, does not allow a party to disclaim liability for fraudulent statements within the parties’ contract. In addition, an owner who knowingly causes a company to make misrepresentations may be personally liable for fraud, even though an agreement provides such representations are made by “the company.” More ›
Chancery Allows McDonald’s to Pursue Claims Against Ex-CEO, Finding Separation Agreement’s Integration Clause Does Not Bar Them
Delaware has a strong public policy against fraud. Consequently, parties who seek to bar extra-contractual fraud claims must expressly provide in their agreement that neither is relying upon the other party’s extra-contractual representations. As this case confirms, a standard integration clause, without clear anti-reliance language, is insufficient to bar such claims. More ›Share
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
Superior Court Applies Affiliate Privilege Doctrine To Dismiss Tortious Interference Claim Against Controller, While Sustaining Fraud Claims Against LLC Managers
In adjudicating a dispute over a scuttled deal in the music festival industry, the Delaware Superior Court applied the so-called affiliate privilege doctrine, which can immunize a controller from tort liability for its affiliates’ contractual breaches, and addressed the viability of fraud claims against individual managers of certain LLCs. More ›Share
Party Uniquely Escapes An Arbitration Provision, While The Court Reminds Us That Bootstrapped Fraud Claims Are Impermissible In Delaware
Delaware courts commonly enforce (and support) arbitration provisions, submitting disputes under the governing contract to a third-party neutral. Equally common is the dismissal by Delaware courts of fraud claims “bootstrapped” to a breach of contract based on allegations that a contracting party never intended to perform its obligations. This recent decision from the Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division is the unique case where, on the first issue, an arbitration provision was found unenforceable due to impossibility of performance. On the second issue, this case confirms settled law that bootstrapped fraud claims are impermissible in Delaware. More ›Share
Chancery Applies Contractual Shortening of Limitations Period for Breaches of Representations, Finds it Inapt to Fraud Claims and Enforces Clear Anti-Reliance Clause
Pilot Air Freight, LLC v. Manna Freight Systems, Inc., C.A. No. 2019-0992-JRS (Del. Ch. Sept. 18, 2020)
In a familiar fact pattern, an acquirer of a business brought suit against sellers claiming, inter alia, that the representations and warranties in the asset purchase agreement were untrue and, indeed, fraudulent when made. The sellers moved to dismiss on the basis of a provision they claimed shortened the limitations period for breaches of representations and warranties and an anti-reliance clause they claimed eliminated any potential claims for misrepresentations or omissions outside of the written agreement. More ›
Superior Court Allows Fraudulent Inducement and Breach of Contract Claims to Proceed in Parallel Based on Rescissory Damages Request
Firmenich Inc. v. Natural Flavors, Inc., C.A. No. N19C-01-320 MMJ [CCLD] (Del. Super. Apr. 7, 2020).
Fraud claims that overlap with breach of contract claims often are subject to dismissal under Delaware law. Sometimes, however, fraud and contract claims may proceed in parallel, as the Complex Commercial Litigation Division of the Superior Court determined in Natural Flavors. Here, the Superior Court declined to dismiss a fraudulent inducement claim seeking rescissory damages notwithstanding an alternatively-pled breach of contract claim. The litigation concerned an Asset Purchase Agreement and allegations of fraud arising from a former employee’s whistleblowing. After the plaintiff-buyer’s initial fraud claim was dismissed as impermissibly bootstrapped to its breach of contract claim, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint for rescissory damages as compensation for alleged fraudulent inducement to enter into the APA, while alternatively seeking relief for alleged breach of the APA. The defendant-seller, again, sought dismissal of the fraud claim as duplicative of the breach of contract count. More ›
Superior Court CCLD Addresses Pleading Standards for Trade Secret, Fraud and Implied Covenant Claims
Brightstar and PCS, two competitors that distribute new and pre-owned mobile devices, entered into a buy/sell agreement as part of negotiations for a proposed merger and strategic alliance. Under the buy/sell agreement, PCS purchased mobile devices from Brightstar for re-sale to third parties and was subject to a non-circumvention provision that restricted PCS from purchasing these devices from certain other suppliers. After their merger discussions faltered, PCS terminated the agreement, and Brightstar brought suit for unpaid amounts and alleged misappropriation of pricing information. PCS counterclaimed for, inter alia, fraud and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. More ›Share
This opinion decides a motion to dismiss fraud and related tort claims arising out of various investments against a former director and CEO and an employee of a controlling stockholder.
When the investments turned out to be worthless, the plaintiff investor brought suit for breach of fiduciary duties and common law fraud arising from information that the investor received before investing in a company controlled by a business colleague and friend. More ›Share
This decision explains when a fraud claim survives a motion to dismiss that is based on the argument that an integration clause in a contract precludes reliance on extra contractual representations. The short answer is that the contract must specifically deny reliance on those statements before the fraud claim is precluded.Share