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Chancery Finds Payment Condition, Non-Compete, and Non-Solicit Provisions Unenforceable


Ainslie et al. v. Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P., C.A. No. 9436-VCZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 4, 2023)
Under Delaware law, restrictive covenants generally are enforceable unless overly broad in the circumstances, and Delaware courts closely scrutinize them. Similarly, contractual conditions precedent generally are enforceable unless they result in a penalty, and Delaware courts construe ambiguous conditions narrowly to avoid forfeitures. In this decision from the Court of Chancery, a provision in a limited liability partnership agreement intended to discourage competitive activities by former partners was held unenforceable both because it was overly broad and resulted in a forfeiture.
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Chancery Denies Motion Seeking Appointment of a Receiver


Bighorn Ventures Nevada LLC v. Solis, C.A. No. 2022-1116-LWW (Del. Ch. Dec. 23, 2022)
The Court of Chancery has the discretion to appoint a custodian or receiver under Section 226(a)(2) of the DGCL when the board of directors is deadlocked, the business is suffering or is threatened with irreparable injury because of the deadlock, and the shareholders are unable to terminate the deadlock. Under Section 291, the Court has the discretion to appoint a receiver when the corporation is insolvent and special circumstances indicate some beneficial purpose will be served. More ›

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Citing MFW, Court of Chancery Dismisses Merger Challenge


Smart Local Unions and Councils Pension Fund v. BridgeBio Pharma, Inc., C.A. No. 2021-1030-PAF (Del. Ch. Dec. 29, 2022)
Typically, the “entire fairness” standard of review applies to any transaction in which a controlling stockholder acquires the outstanding minority shares. But, under the MFW framework, the more lenient business judgment standard of review may apply if the controller can establish that, among other things, an independent, fully-empowered special committee met its duty of care to negotiate a fair price for the shares and also that an informed, uncoerced majority of the minority stockholders approved the transaction.  More ›

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Chancery Finds Plaintiff Failed To State A Non-Exculpated Claim Against Special Committee Defendants In Complaint Challenging A Merger


Ligos v. Tsuff, C.A. No. 2020-0435-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 1, 2022)
The Delaware Supreme Court’s Cornerstone Therapeutics decision established that, although a transaction involving a controller must satisfy entire fairness review, plaintiffs seeking money damages against independent directors protected by an exculpation clause must still state a non-exculpated claim against each such director, or that director will be entitled to dismissal. In other words, to proceed against independent directors, the complaint must adequately plead that they breached the fiduciary duty of loyalty. More ›

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Chancery Finds Stockholder Conferred a Substantial Corporate Benefit by Challenging the Joint Vote of Two Classes of Common Stock under Section 242(b)(2) of the DGCL


Garfield v. Boxed Inc., C.A. No. 2022-0132-MTZ (Del. Ch. Dec. 27, 2022).
Section 242(b)(2) of the DGCL requires the separate approval of different classes of stock for charter amendments that, inter alia, “increase or decrease the aggregate number of authorized shares of such class…” Section 242(b)(2) permits corporations to opt-out of this separate class approval requirement via a charter amendment – but any such amendment also must be approved by a separate class vote. This decision awards attorneys’ fees under the corporate benefit doctrine to a stockholder who questioned the validity of Class A and Class B common shares voting together on proposed amendments triggering these requirements, which then caused the corporation to provide separate class votes.  More ›

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Court of Chancery Awards Plaintiffs Attorneys’ Fees and Costs in Section 225 Action for Obtaining a Substantial Benefit for the Corporation and its Stockholders


Totta v. CCSB, LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0173-KSJM (Del. Ch. Nov. 3, 2022)
Delaware follows the “American Rule”: each party bears its own legal fees and expenses. However, there are certain exceptions. This includes the “corporate benefit exception,” where a party has obtained a substantial benefit for the corporation or its stockholders through prosecuting the lawsuit. In this recent decision from the Court of Chancery, the Court awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses to a plaintiff in a Section 225 action under the corporate benefit exception. More ›

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Chancery Orders Stay of “Dr. J” Litigation Pending Arbitrator’s Decision on Arbitrability


Erving v. ABG Intermediate Holdings 2, LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0816-NAC (Del. Ch. Nov. 28, 2022)
Basketball legend Julius W. Erving II, also known as “Dr. J”, sold a majority interest in his trademark and other intellectual property to a brand development and marketing company. The transaction involved the creation of an LLC—in which Dr. J held a minority interest and the marketing company held a majority interest and promised to grow Dr. J’s brand. The LLC operating agreement contained a dispute resolution provision that included an exclusive arbitration clause. Several years later, Dr. J filed claims in the Court of Chancery, alleging that the defendants had wrongfully diverted funds and failed to devote reasonable efforts to grow Dr. J’s brand. Defendants moved to dismiss the action in favor of arbitration or, in the alternative, to stay the case pending an arbitrator’s decision regarding whether the dispute must be arbitrated. More ›

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Chancery Permits Discovery Under the Hague Evidence Convention

Posted In Chancery, Discovery


In Re Cote D’Azur Estate, C.A. No. 2017-0290-JTL (Del. Ch. Dec. 12, 2022)
The Hague Evidence Convention provides an alternative method from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to compelling production from opposing parties across international lines. In this decision, the Court of Chancery considered a request for production under the Convention from a plaintiff-heir, seeking discovery on her late father’s former legal counsel regarding issues surrounding the family estate, established as a Delaware LLC, to control the family villa in France. Questions arose regarding the propriety of the legal advice provided to the father by counsel, and plaintiff-heir sought to compel production of discovery, while defendant-counsel refused to cooperate. More ›

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Chancery Addresses Real-Party-In-Interest and Collateral Estoppel Doctrines in Section 225 Dispute


Hawk Investment Holdings Ltd. v. Stream TV Networks Inc., C.A. No. 2022-0930-JTL (Del. Ch. Nov. 29, 2022)
This Section 225 decision involved Stream TV Networks, Inc. and its secured creditor, Hawk Investment Holdings Ltd. Under certain pledge agreements securing Hawk’s loans, Stream granted Hawk the right to vote all of its common shares in subsidiary Technovative Media, Inc. following an event of default. Hawk exercised those voting rights to remove and replace Technovative’s sole director, resulting in this litigation. In this decision addressing pre-trial motions, the Court validated Hawk’s standing to pursue its Section 225 claim as a stockholder notwithstanding that had assigned certain rights to an affiliate. In doing so, the Court explained statutory standing and the real-party in-interest doctrine in the Section 225 context. The Court also applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel to resolve several issues in Hawk’s favor based on prior litigation involving Stream. 

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Chancery Sides With Board in Dispute Over Stockholder’s Compliance With Advanced Notice Bylaws to Nominate Directors


Jorgl v. AIM ImmunoTech, Inc., 2022-0669-LWW (Del. Ch. Oct. 28, 2022)
The Court of Chancery rejected a stockholder’s bid for a preliminary mandatory injunction directing the board of AIM ImmunoTech, Inc. to include his nominees on the ballot of potential directors. The dispute centered on whether the board had wrongfully rejected the stockholder’s nominees based upon the board’s suspicion that the stockholder had not complied with the company’s advanced notice bylaws requiring the stockholder to disclose “all arrangements or understandings” with any of his nominees. Because evidence suggested that the stockholder and his nominees may have been part of an undisclosed plan to commence a proxy contest, the stockholder could not establish at the preliminary injunction stage that the board erred as a matter of law in rejecting his nominations. The Court also concluded that the stockholder failed to establish, as a matter of law, that the board acted with an entrenchment motive in rejecting the nominations. Accordingly, the Court found that the stockholder could not meet the heavy burden necessary to obtain preliminary mandatory injunctive relief.

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Chancery Dismisses Claims Against Controller and its Affiliates Based on Group Pleading and Vague, General Allegations of Claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty


Bocock v. Innovate Corp., C.A. No. 2021-0224-PAF (Del. Ch. Oct. 28, 2022)
A holding company acquired a controlling stake in an owner/operator of low-power television stations via a stock purchase agreement. The controller then designated certain of its own affiliates’ officers and directors as officers and directors of the acquired company. More than three years later, stockholders and option holders filed a complaint alleging that the controller, its affiliates, and the officers and directors had conspired to loot the company by usurping corporate opportunities, transferring assets for insufficient consideration, and entering into agreements that drained value from the company. The claims included breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, and tortious interference. More ›

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Chancery Trims Contract Claims in Post-Merger Dispute


In Re P3 Health Group Holdings, LLC, Consol. C.A. 2021-0518-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 31, 2022)
Plaintiff Hudson Vegas Investment SPV, LLC asserted various claims after its minority interest in Defendant P3 Health Group Holdings, LLC was wiped out in a business combination between P3 and a SPAC. The Court of Chancery has issued several decisions in the case; this one dealt with Hudson’s various claims for breach of P3’s LLC agreement. More ›

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Imposing “A Remedy Of First Impression,” Chancery Divests Party Of Stock Ownership As A Post-Judgment Contempt Sanction Under Rule 70.


In re Stream TV Networks, Inc. Omnibus Agreement Litig., C.A. No. 2020-0776-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 3, 2022)
Court of Chancery Rule 70 speaks to the Court’s discretion in fashioning sanctions for failure to comply with a Court order. This expressly includes the authority to divest a party of personal property over which the Court has jurisdiction. In what the Court of Chancery termed a “remedy of first impression,” the Court in this case divested a party of stock in a Delaware corporation as a sanction for failure to comply with a partial final judgment requiring it to transfer legal title of assets, including that stock, to the opposing party. More ›

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Chancery Sustains M&A Fraud Claims Based On Near-Term EBITDA Projections

Posted In Chancery, Fraud, M&A


In re P3 Health Grp. Hldgs., LLC, C.A. No. 2021-0518-JTL (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2022)
This recent decision addresses three points of interest relevant to fraud claims.
First, while fraud claims generally involve statements of fact, future projections can support a fraud claim. The statement of future projection must be sufficiently specific, and the plaintiff must plead that the projection was fraudulently conceived. In this case, the Court of Chancery found plaintiff had sufficiently pleaded a fraud claim based on a specific EBITDA projection figure for the current year in which the statement was made. According to the plaintiff, the company missed the projected EBITDA number by roughly $52 million, with a projected EBITDA of $12.7 million and actual year-end results of negative $40 million. Because it was a near-term projection, and one reasonably conceivable inference from the large difference was that the defendant knowingly made a false representation, the Court found the plaintiff sufficiently pleaded a fraud claim based on the EBITDA projection. More ›

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Chancery Reasons Rule 15(aaa) Does not Contemplate Moving to Amend After the Responsive Brief is Filed and Before the Court Rules on a Motion to Dismiss


Wells Lory Hillblom, f/k/a Nguyen Be Lory vs Wilmington Tr. Co., 2021-1034-MTZ (Del. Ch. Dec. 6, 2022).
Rule 15(aaa), a rule unique to the Court of Chancery, requires plaintiffs faced with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim to either (i) stand on their complaint and answer the motion; or (ii) amend their complaint before the response to the motion is due. Plaintiffs could also seek to amend the complaint under Rule 15(aaa) after the Court decides that dismissal is warranted but only upon a showing of good cause why dismissal with prejudice is not just under all the circumstances. More ›

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