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Chancery Denies Attorneys’ Fees for Appointment of New Directors Following Assertion of Derivative Claims

In re Oracle Corp. Deriv. Litig., Consol. C.A. No. 2017-0337-SG (Del. Ch. Feb. 7, 2024)
Under the mootness rule, a stockholder plaintiff can be awarded attorneys’ fees when the plaintiff’s litigation efforts result in the defendants taking action that results in a corporate benefit. In this case, following the stockholder-plaintiffs’ assertion of derivative claims, new independent directors were appointed by the corporation to serve on a special litigation committee to investigate the merits of the litigation. Although the underlying derivative claims were rejected after trial, the plaintiffs argued that the appointment of new directors nonetheless created a corporate benefit and, in fact, resulted in Oracle’s board having at least as many independent directors as supposedly non-independent directors. The Court disagreed, however, and held that the plaintiffs were not entitled to a mootness fee. The Court reasoned that the appointment of the new directors was not a significant benefit because the board was determined to have acted properly in the transaction that gave rise to the underlying lawsuit. Furthermore, the stockholder-plaintiffs did not seek the appointment of independent directors as part of the lawsuit. Therefore, the Court denied the plaintiffs’ request for attorneys’ fees.

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