Showing 26 posts in Special Committees.
Board Lacks Standing to Bring Motion to Dismiss Because It Delegated That Authority to Special Litigation Committee
Rowan v. Infinity Q Capital Mgmt., LLC, C.A. No. 2022-0176-MTZ (Del. Ch. Sep. 12, 2022)
If a conflicted board delegates all authority over derivative claims to a special litigation committee (“SLC”), then the board may lack authority separately to assert procedural defenses, including a motion to dismiss under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1. But whether a board has given up this authority depends upon the sequence and terms of the SLC’s creation. More ›
Chancery Limits Review on Motion to Dismiss to Only Section 220 Documents Cited in Complaint and Dismisses Complaint Under MFW Doctrine
City Pension Fund for Firefighters and Police Officers in the City of Miami, v. The Trade Desk, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 2021-0560-PAF (Del. Ch. July 29, 2022)
This decision addresses certain points of interest concerning (i) the use of books and records produced pursuant to Section 220 of the DGCL in subsequent litigation, and (ii) structuring controlling stockholder transactions to facilitate business judgment review. More ›
Delaware Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal Under Zapata
Diep v. Trimaran Pollo Partners, No. 313, 2021 (Del. June 28, 2022)
After the Court of Chancery denied an initial motion to dismiss, the company formed a special litigation committee (“SLC”) to investigate the claims and determine whether the company should allow the plaintiff to proceed, take over the litigation, or move to dismiss. The SLC investigated and then moved to dismiss the claims, which the Court of Chancery granted under Zapata. Among other rulings, the Supreme Court affirmed and upheld the Court of Chancery’s rejection of the plaintiff’s contention that the SLC did not meet its burden to establish the independence of the SLC members. The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that the record did not establish that as directors the SLC members had specific knowledge of the facts and circumstances that led the Company, as nominal defendant, to join the initial motion to dismiss those claims that the SLC later was charged with investigating. Justice Valihura dissented because she believed that material issues of fact existed regarding the SLC members’ independence.
Chancery Finds Adversity Between Directors and Formation of Special Committee Shields Against Production of Company-Privileged Information
In re: Howard Midstream Energy Partners, LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0487-LWW (Del. Ch. Sept. 22, 2021)
Issues of corporate privilege among directors entail a fact-specific analysis when a dispute arises among them. Here, the Court of Chancery considered a motion to compel brought by former directors and officers who claimed they were “ambushed” in a corporate “coup.” Because the directors should have considered themselves adverse to the corporation, and because a special committee was formed to deal with the petitioners’ potential separation from the company, the Court denied the petitioners’ motion to compel communications between the other directors and the company withheld as privileged. More ›
Company Did Not Breach Mandatory Redemption Provision Where Special Committee Determined Company Lacked Funds To Redeem All Preferred Shares
Cont’l Investors Fund LLC v. TradingScreen, Inc., C.A. No. 10164-VCL (Del. Ch. July 23, 2021)
A holder of preferred stock often possesses redemption rights that permit the stockholder to require a company to repurchase the stockholder’s shares. But what happens if the company determines that it lacks the funds to repurchase the stock? As illustrated in this case, a stockholder challenging the determination bears the burden of proof to show that the company’s determination was improper. More ›
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 ›
Chancery Finds No Transaction-Specific Control Where Plaintiffs Failed to Allege that a Majority of the Members of a Special Committee Were Under the Sway of a Would-Be Controller
In re GGP Inc. Stockholder Litig., C.A. No. 2018-0267-JRS (Del. Ch. May 25, 2021).
Under MFW and its progeny, if there is a conflicted controlling stockholder, then in order to receive the benefits of the business judgment rule, the transaction must be negotiated and approved by independent and disinterested directors and conditioned on an informed and uncoerced vote of a majority of the minority stockholders. A stockholder that owns less than 50% of the voting power of the corporation may be a controller if it exercises control over the business affairs of the corporation either generally or with respect to the transaction at-issue. More ›
Chancery Resolves Dispute Between Competing Special Committees, Finding Second Committee Could Not Voluntarily Dismiss Suit Brought By The First Committee Under The Zapata Framework
In re WeWork Litigation, C.A. No. 2020-0258-AGB (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2020)
This decision addresses a matter of first impression arising out of a dispute pitting two special committees of the same company, WeCompany (“WeWork” or the “Company”), against one another over control of a lawsuit on the Company’s behalf. The lawsuit involved claims against the Company’s putative controlling shareholders, SoftBank Group Corp. and SoftBank Vision Fund (AIV MI) L.P. (together, “SoftBank”), for abandoning a multi-step agreement by which SoftBank committed to a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork’s shares in addition to providing equity and debt financing (the “Transaction”). The same two-member committee that negotiated the Transaction on the Company’s behalf (the “Transaction Committee”), initiated the lawsuit with the support of the Company’s management (including WeWork’s Chief Legal Officer) as well as the Company’s outside counsel, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (“Skadden”) More ›Share
Chancery Addresses Discovery and Privilege Implications of Oracle Special Litigation Committee’s Decision to Defer to Stockholder-Plaintiff’s Prosecution of Derivative Claims
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 ›Share
Blue Bell Creameries: Chancery Finds Zapata Committee to Address Derivative Claims is not Available to Conflicted General Partner
Wenske v. Blue Bell Creameries, Inc., C. A. No. 2017-0699-JRS (Del. Ch. Aug. 28, 2019).
In Zapata v. Maldonado, 430 A.2d 779 (Del. 1981), the Delaware Supreme Court established that, even where a derivative plaintiff adequately pleads demand futility, a corporation may retain control over derivative claims by delegating authority to a committee of independent directors. In this recent decision, the Court of Chancery applied principles of agency law to hold that, at least without prior authorization in a limited partnership agreement, a conflicted corporate general partner generally may not make a similar delegation, because the general partner is a “principal” who inherently retains control over its committee, the “agent.” More ›Share
Chancery Sustains Claims Against Special Committee Members Concerning Stock Incentive Plan
Reith v. Lichtenstein, C.A. No. 2018-0277-MTZ (Del. Ch. June 28, 2019).
As Reith explains, directors may lose the protections of the business judgment rule and expose themselves to liability if they knowingly or deliberately fail to adhere to the terms of a stock incentive plan, such as by violating a clear and unambiguous provision. And, as Reith illustrates, Delaware courts may consider a company’s prior public disclosures about a plan’s terms in addressing that issue. More ›Share
Chancery Addresses Pre-Suit Demand Refusal Standard for Special Committees
City of Tamarac Firefighters’ Pension Trust Fund v. Corvi, C.A. No. 2017-0341-KSJM (Del. Ch. Feb. 12, 2019).
Under Delaware law, stockholders who wish to pursue a derivative claim on the corporation’s behalf face an important decision—whether to make a pre-suit demand on the board to handle the suit itself, or bring the suit oneself and plead that the board cannot disinterestedly and independently consider a pre-suit demand under the circumstances. Neither path is easy. More ›Share
Court Of Chancery Requires SLC Member Be A “Director”
Obeid v. Hogan, C.A. 11900-VCL (June 10, 2016)
Under the famous Zapata decision, a board of directors may take control of a derivative case, provided it meets the test set out in that opinion. But may such a board, or the managers in an LLC, delegate that authority to a non-member? This decision says that delegation is not appropriate for an LLC with a management structure similar to a corporation or in an LLC that limits the delegation authority of it member-managers.Share
Court Of Chancery Enforces Nearly Ironclad Safe Harbor For Conflict Transactions Involving Alternative Entity
Employee Retirement Systems of the City of St. Louis v. TC Pipelines GP Inc., C.A. 11603-VCG (May 11, 2016)
This is an important decision because it enforces a nearly ironclad protection against any attack on the decision of a special committee to approve a conflict transaction for a LLP and an LLC. More ›Share
Court Of Chancery Rejects SLC Report
London v Tyrrell, C.A. 3321-CC (March 11, 2010)
When should the recommendations of a SLC to not pursue a derivative suit be accepted? As this opinion points out, certainly not when the defendants appoint their relative to the SCL and those that are indebted to them. Nor will the SCL be respected when its members approach their investigation with views fixed before their investigation was performed and when their non-Delaware counsel does not understand Delaware law.
This decision summarizes the Zapata principles for examining the report of a SLC, including a good summary of prior case law. Apart from the basic rules it sets down on burden of proof, independence and the scope of any SLC investigation [all of which alone are worth reading], the decision's analysis of the internal logic of the SLC report is critical. Put simply, the Court wants the report to make sense under an objective review and when it does not, trouble will follow.Share