Court of Chancery Rejects Settlement
Off v. Ross, C.A. 3468-VCP (Del. Ch. Nov. 26, 2008)
The Court of Chancery rejected the proposed settlement of this derivative suit for two reasons. First, the transaction under attack in the litigation was completed after a modification favorable to stockholders before the settlement was presented for approval, the modification was considered by the board before suit was filed, and the transaction was not dependent on approval of the settlement. Thus, the Court concluded that there was no consideration for the settlement because the modification to the deal that plaintiff relied upon to justify the settlement would have happened anyway without the suit. A benefit received by stockholders that is not caused by litigation is not valid consideration for the settlement of the litigation.
In addition, the Court was troubled by the effect of the release that was part of the settlement on related litigation in New York. Given that the stockholders received virtually nothing for the release, it was wrong to affect their rights in the litigation elsewhere that might benefit them.