Court of Chancery Extends Books And Records Inspection
Melzer v. CNET Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 3023-CC (November 21, 2007).
The scope of inspection rights may be affected by when a stockholder first acquired her stock. If the inspection is to investigate alleged wrongdoing, the rationale for granting inspection is to permit the filing of a derivative suit if the inspection shows that it is warranted. Hence, prior case law has held that inspection of records existing before the petitioner became a stockholder is not warranted because the stockholder has no right to sue for those pre-ownership wrongs under Delaware law.
This decision extends inspection rights when the potential claim is for a Caremark case alleging a "sustained or systematic failure" of oversight. Then, the Court held, showing past failures is relevant to showing a sustained wrong that culminated in damage to the entity after the petitioner became a stockholder. Under that rationale, the scope of inspection may extend to pre-ownership records.