Showing 11 posts in Subject Matter Jurisdiction.
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.
Chancery Finds it Lacks Discretion to Decline Jurisdiction Over a Case Where Jurisdiction Exists Under Section 111 of the DGCL
S’holders Rep. Serv. LLC v. DC Capital Partners Fund II, L.P., C.A. No. 2021-0465-KSJM (Del. Ch. Feb. 14, 2022)
While the Court of Chancery has exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over claims and remedies sounding in equity, Section 111 of the DGCL grants the Court concurrent, non-exclusive jurisdiction in cases involving the interpretation of certain corporate instruments—regardless of whether those claims or the relief sought are equitable in nature. In DC Capital Partners, the plaintiff elected to bring legal (rather than equitable) claims involving the interpretation of stock purchase agreements in the Court of Chancery pursuant to Section 111’s concurrent subject matter jurisdiction. The defendants argued that because the claims did not otherwise fall within the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction, and because Section 111 provides for concurrent rather than exclusive jurisdiction, the Court had the discretion to decline to hear the case. Specifically, the defendants noted that Section 111 provides that certain claims “may” be brought in the Court of Chancery and argued that this permissive language provided the Court with the discretion not to hear such claims. The Court rejected the defendants’ contention, finding that the discretion to bring a claim in the Court of Chancery pursuant to Section 111 belongs to the plaintiff, not the Court. Therefore, the Court held that once a plaintiff elects to bring a claim in Chancery authorized under Section 111, the Court lacks the discretion to decline to hear the case based on subject matter jurisdiction.
Chancery Stays Case So That Committee of Company May Decide Whether It Has Power to Interpret Alternate Dispute Resolution Provision of Agreement
Terrell v. Kiromic Biopharma, Inc., C. A. No. 2021-0248-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 20, 2022)
When an alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) provision is an arbitration provision, presumptively the Court may consider the scope of the provision absent “clear and unmistakable” evidence to the contrary. When an ADR provision is not an arbitration provision, however, the Court applies contract interpretation principles to determine who – as between the Court or the person or body specified in the provision – may construe its scope. More ›
Chancery Dismisses Action for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction on Grounds that the Proposed Declaratory Judgments Would Provide an Adequate Remedy at Law
Qlarant, Inc. v. IP Commercialization Labs, LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0574-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 25, 2022)
Pursuant to an asset purchase agreement, the plaintiff buyer purchased assets from a seller and several of its affiliates. Despite another company asserting that it owned twenty percent of the seller, the agreement represented that the seller had only two individual shareholders. The company that claimed it was a shareholder filed an action in Maryland challenging the asset purchase transaction. In turn, the plaintiff buyer filed an action in the Court of Chancery seeking declaratory judgments that the company was not a shareholder of the seller at the time of the agreement and that the asset-purchase transaction had been validly consummated. The plaintiff also asked the Court to permanently enjoin the company from asserting it was a shareholder of the seller. More ›
Delaware Court of Chancery Holds That Scope of Director and Officer Indemnification Under D&O Policy Is Within Exclusive Jurisdiction Of The Delaware Superior Court
Ernesto Rodriguez et al. v. Great American Insurance Company, C.A. No. 2020-0387-JRS (Del. Ch. Oct. 20, 2021)
The Court of Chancery’s subject matter jurisdiction is limited, and arises in three circumstances: (1) the complaint asserts an equitable claim; (2) the complaint seeks an equitable remedy and there is no adequate remedy at law; or (3) jurisdiction is vested in the Court of Chancery by statute. In this recent decision, the Court of Chancery held that its limited subject matter jurisdiction did not extend to determine the scope of a Delaware corporation’s directors and officers (D&O) insurance policy. More ›
Delaware Court of Chancery Enjoins Arbitration, Holds It Has Subject Matter Jurisdiction to Decide Substantive Arbitrability In Face Of Competing Arbitration Provisions
AffiniPay, LLC, et al. v. West, C.A. No. 2021-0549-LWW (Del. Ch. Sept. 17, 2021)
As a general matter, Delaware courts retain jurisdiction to determine substantive arbitrability – that is, whether claims are subject to arbitration under the relevant arbitration clause. Delaware courts will defer to arbitrators’ determinations of such issues, however, where the parties’ contract reflects their “clear and unmistakable” intent to do so, a standard that may be met by, among other things, contractual language that “all disputes” are submitted to arbitration and the incorporation of official arbitration rules that empower arbitrators to decide arbitrability. Here, because the parties’ dispute implicated multiple agreements with competing and conflicting arbitration clauses assigning arbitrability to different arbitrators, the Court of Chancery retained jurisdiction to determine arbitrability. The Court granted a preliminary injunction preventing arbitration from proceeding in the arguably incorrect forum. More ›
Delaware Superior Court Holds That Claim For Gross Negligence Against Corporate Managers Is An Equitable Claim For Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Over Which It Lacks Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Techview Investments Ltd., v. Amstar Poland Property Fund I, L.P., C.A. No. N20C-11-229 EMD CCLD (Del. Super. Ct. Aug. 31, 2021)
The court's ability to hear actions is limited by their jurisdiction – both jurisdiction over parties and jurisdiction over claims. This recent decision from the Delaware Superior Court’s Complex Commercial Litigation Division provides guidance on (1) the scope of contractually granted personal jurisdiction; and (2) subject matter jurisdiction for claims of gross negligence against corporate managers in Delaware. More ›
Chancery Finds Equitable Defenses Bar LLC Dilution and Redomestication Claims, and Holds it Lacks Jurisdiction to Dissolve a Foreign Entity
In re Coinmint, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0983-MTZ (Del. Ch. Aug. 12, 2021)
This decision illustrates that, in specific circumstances, the equitable defenses of waiver, acquiescence, and estoppel may preclude a party from challenging otherwise voidable actions. In addition, deciding an issue of first impression, the Court held that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to equitably dissolve a non-Delaware business entity. More ›
Clean-Up Doctrine to Adjudicate Legal Claims in Chancery May Take Precedence Over Request for Jury Trial
Firststring Research, Inc. v. JSS Medical Research Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0332-KSJM (Del. Ch. May 28, 2021)
Delaware has not merged its courts of law and equity, which may have implications for a litigant seeking a jury trial. When a counterclaim-plaintiff seeks a jury trial for a claim otherwise within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, application of the clean-up doctrine might justify retaining the counterclaims in Chancery and forgoing jury-trial rights. More ›
Chancery Finds Subject Matter Jurisdiction for Case Seeking Specific Performance of a Non-Disclosure Agreement
Endowment Research Grp., LLC v. Wildcat Venture Partners, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0627-KSJM (Del. Ch. Mar. 5, 2021)
The Court of Chancery may have subject matter jurisdiction if one or more of plaintiff’s claims are equitable in nature, the plaintiff requests equitable relief or a statute confers subject matter jurisdiction. In determining whether a plaintiff seeks equitable relief, the Court looks beyond what the plaintiff nominally seeks and instead assesses whether a legal remedy is available and fully adequate. At issue here was plaintiff’s request for specific performance of a non-disclosure agreement. The Court denied a defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because, inter alia, claims for breach of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements lend themselves to equitable remedies, the value of the confidential information would be difficult to quantify and the breach would continue indefinitely without equitable relief. The Court noted as well that the parties stipulated in the non-disclosure agreement that a breach of the agreement would cause irreparable harm, and that money damages are not an adequate remedy. The defendant failed to show that the pleaded facts plainly established that this statement was untrue.
Vama F.Z. Co. v. WS02, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0141-JRS (Del. Ch. Mar. 29, 2021)
This case illustrates that the Court of Chancery lacks subject matter jurisdiction to issue an injunction pending appeal of another court’s rulings, and where the plaintiff has adequate remedies at law. More ›