Court of Chancery Upholds Advancement Bylaw
Underbrink v. Warrior Energy Services Corporation, C.A. 2982-VCP (Del. Ch. May 30, 2008)
When a board is about to be sued, it is a good idea to review the bylaws to see if they provide the right to have your attorney fees advanced by the corporation. Here the claim was that the board's decision to amend the bylaws to cover advancement rights was an interested transaction that was subject to the intrinsic fairness rule. Prior case law had applied that rule when the litigation was actually pending and a board acted to confer advancement rights as a result. The Court ruled that the decision to confer advancement rights for any future litigation was protected by the business judgment rule. Hence, the fact that the litigation had not yet been brought was important.
It is possible to overstate the holding of this case as it involved an odd set of facts. If the filing of suit against the directors was virtually assured, the decision might have been different. Some caution is required before deciding that the rule of this case applies to all pre-litigation decisions on advancement.