About This Blog
Morris James postings of significant news, original articles and legal insight related to Delaware.
Showing 54 posts from 2018.
Chancery Finds Inadequate Disclosure in Connection With a Tender Offer Prevents Dismissal of a Class Action Complaint
The Corwin doctrine provides substantial protection to directors of companies engaged in a sale process. Once a transaction closes, if a stockholder cannot allege that a majority stockholder vote approving a transaction was uninformed or coerced, then the court will dismiss a complaint attacking the fairness of the transaction under the business judgment standard of review. The rationale is that majority disinterested stockholder approval via a vote or a majority tender cleanses the transaction unless plaintiff can meet the high burden of pleading waste. Directors are also protected if a company’s charter contains protections under Section 102(b)(7) of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) and a plaintiff cannot allege that a majority of the directors acted disloyally or in bad faith. The Court of Chancery’s well-reasoned decision in In re Tangoe Stockholders Litigation, Cons. C. A. No. 2017-0650-JRS (Del. Ch. November 20, 2018), provides important guidance for directors seeking protection under either Corwin or Section 102(b)(7) when a board of a publicly traded company runs a sale process while it is attempting to restate its financials, its stock has been de-listed, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is threatening de-registration. More ›
Once again, there are demands to reform corporate litigation. (See, e.g., Kevin LaCroix, “Time for Another Round of Securities Class Action Litigation Reform,” The D&O Diary, Oct. 23, 2018.) But once again, the Delaware courts are leading the way to cure the problems that litigation critics complain of most. Recent Delaware Court of Chancery decisions are yet another example of that leadership. We begin to show how that is being done, by outlining the perceived problems.
The critics focus on two types of corporation litigation they claim are serious problems: so-called merger objection lawsuits; and event-driven securities litigation. The principal objection to merger objection lawsuits is that they only allege a proposed merger is improper because the proxy statement asking for stockholders’ approval is inadequate, the alleged problem is then “cured” by defendants’ immaterial supplemental disclosures and the case is dismissed after the plaintiffs lawyers are paid off with a substantial fee. That seems to be tolerating a strike lawsuit that really accomplished nothing but a fee for the lawyers.
The principal objection to event-driven securities litigation is that they are based on a failure to disclose that the company was subject to a serious risk that eventually occurred, depressing the company’s stock price. The critics argue these suits are based on a risk the company did not anticipate and thus could not have disclosed. Thus, such claims lack proof of scienter and again are just lawyer-driven fee generators with fees paid to avoid the costs of defense. More ›
A frequent lecturer on The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 since its passage in late December, Bruce W. Tigani will be presenting on the New Tax Act at the upcoming Delaware Tax Institute on December 7, 2018. His presentation will focus on the Qualified Business Income (QBI) Deduction and Choice of Entity Planning & Developments, including the recently announced guidance from the IRS impacting S corporation shareholders, LLC members, and proprietors. Bruce will conclude with case-study comparisons illustrating the impact of the QBI deduction and other aspects of the New Tax Act on entity selection for doing business. More ›
The State of Delaware’s policy is to give maximum effect to the principle of freedom of contract. Delaware courts seek to enforce the language in an agreement negotiated by the parties and will not rewrite the agreement after the fact to reallocate risks, especially in an agreement between sophisticated parties that was bargained for at arm’s length. This includes risks allocated through “material adverse effect” (MAE) provisions in a merger or acquisition agreement. The Delaware Court of Chancery’s recent decision in Akorn, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi AG, No. 2018-0300-JTL, 2018 WL 4719347 (Del. Ch. Oct. 1, 2018) (Laster, V.C.), illustrates how the court applies Delaware’s policy of freedom of contract. While this is the first time that the court has found that an MAE on the seller’s business justified a buyer’s termination of a merger agreement, this decision presented an exceptional set of facts regarding the utter deterioration of Akorn’s business and widespread company regulatory compliance issues affecting its pipeline of new generic drugs. Accordingly, the court’s ruling merely represents the application of a well-known principle to enforce the language of a merger agreement, allocating the risks bargained for by sophisticated parties, to an egregious set of facts. More ›
The 2019 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® annual guide of the “Best Law Firms" recognizes Morris James as a "Best Law Firm" in the national category of Litigation-Mergers & Acquisitions as well as 25 additional categories for their Delaware practices. More ›
Morris James Takes the Lead in Delaware Today Top Lawyers Survey
Morris James LLP is pleased to announce that the lawyers listed below were recognized as Top Lawyers by their peers in a survey of Delaware attorneys conducted by Delaware Today magazine. Morris James had more top lawyers and top vote-getters than any other law firm in Delaware. 39 attorneys were named in 20 practice areas. More ›
The answer to the question posed in the title to this article may seem devious to you. After all, the answer must be “no” if we want anyone to serve on a corporate board of directors. Yet this question continues to pop up as discussed in the recent decision of the Delaware Court of Chancery in Marchand v. Barnhill, C.A. No. 2017-0586-JRS (Sept. 27, 2018). More ›
Bruce Tigani, chair of Morris James' Tax, Estates and Business practice, presented on the New Tax Act at the Delaware Trust Conference held October 24th. http://bit.ly/2q4t3WF
(L-R) Bruce Tigani, Jordan Rosen, Jerry Grossman
With a law career spanning over 30 years, Bruce maintains a broad-based business, tax, healthcare and real estate practice. In providing clients an integrated focus to both transactional and planning aspects essential to their needs, Bruce delivers a coordinated and comprehensive approach to the representation of regionally based closely-held businesses, professional practices, and individuals.
In 2014, the Delaware Supreme Court in Kahn v. MFW held that the business judgment standard could apply to review of a controlling stockholder merger if at the outset the controlling stockholder conditioned the squeeze-out transaction on negotiation and approval by a committee of independent and disinterested directors and the informed, uncoerced approval of a majority of the minority stockholders (dual stage approvals). The Delaware Supreme Court later affirmed a Delaware Court of Chancery transcript opinion holding that MFW could apply to a pleadings-stage dismissal where the controlling stockholder did not condition its initial proposal on the dual stage approvals, at least where the board, with the majority stockholder’s participation, did so in a resolution establishing a special committee to negotiate prior to any substantive negotiations. The question remained, however, how much latitude the court would afford a controlling stockholder who did not ab initio condition its merger transaction on the requisite dual stage approvals. In Flood v. Synutra International, C. A. No. 101, 2018 (Del. Oct. 9, 2018), the Supreme Court in a majority opinion provided additional guidance, holding that the MFW standard of review could apply to a transaction where the controlling stockholder did not from the beginning condition its transaction on the requisite dual stage approvals, as long as those conditions were established prior to any substantive economic negotiations. The court’s holding and its reasoning provide important guidance to transactional planners and litigators assessing whether to challenge a controlling stockholder merger transaction. More ›
@MorrisJamesLLP was excited to sponsor the 2018 Dogfish Dash benefitting the Delaware Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Over 3,000 runners from 32 states ran the 13th annual Dogfish Dash yesterday! #dogfish #natureconservancy
Earlier this month the FDA announced that use of electronic cigarettes (or “e-cigs”) reached epidemic proportions among teenagers and it is cracking down. It placed the burden on five manufacturers to prove their devices are not being sold to minors and sent out notices to retailers reminding them of the prohibition against selling to minors under federal law. Delaware has had this same debate in slow motion starting in 2014, attempting to leverage its three main regulatory strategies: sales to minors, Clean Indoor Air Act, and taxes.
Delaware’s three major mechanisms are as follows:
- 11 Del.Code §§ 1115-27 - Prohibition of Tobacco Sale to Minors
- 16 Del.Code §2901 et al. - Clear Indoor Air Act
- 30 Del.Code § 5301 et al. - Tobacco Excise Tax
The first Delaware State Bar Association Health Law Section meeting with Morris James LLP attorney Andrew Wilson leading along with Rob Collins will convene on Monday, October 22nd at 12:00 pm when the Section will reconvene at the Bar Association on King Street. Drew Wilson was recently appointed as a co-chair of the Section. The group will discuss opportunities and goals for the section over the next year. It’s an exciting time in health law and policy; the section could play an impactful role. Anyone involved in the Delaware healthcare industry should contact Drew directly about ideas for the section, and the role it can play in education and awareness. Lunch will be provided, but those unable to attend in person can participate by phone. The call-in information is 1-800-391-2548, with pin code 75484489. There will also be an upcoming health-related CLE titled “The Opioid Epidemic and the Law.” on the morning of September 26th from 9: 00 am to 12:30 pm. The keynote speaker will be our Attorney General, Matt Denn, who has championed the issue during his time in office. Contact Drew for more details!
Appraisal litigation is unique under Delaware law. In almost every instance you can think of, once an event provides a right to recover damages (such as a fire caused by negligence), what happens later is relevant to determining the amount of damages. For example, the actual future earnings of a business is relevant to a claim for lost profits. But, that is not always so in an appraisal case. There the valuation of the company involved is determined as of “the point just before the merger transaction ‘on the date of the merger,’” see Merion Capital v. Lender Processing Services, (Del. Ch. Dec. 16, 2016). More ›
Morris James was named a top work place for mid-sized employers in Delaware for the eleventh consecutive year. This year's top workplace honor makes Morris James the only law firm in Delaware to be consistently top-ranked in the mid-sized employers category for the past eleven years. More ›
Delaware statutes enabling formation of unincorporated entities like limited liability companies (LLCs) and limited partnerships afford freedom for owners to structure business relationships as they see fit. This freedom carries with it the responsibility to accurately and completely describe the parties’ rights and duties. It also means that when disputes arise among owners or managers, a Delaware court will resolve the dispute through application of principles of contract interpretation. Moreover, if the parties in their foundational agreement do not address an issue, the court will apply default rules under the applicable business entity statute. The recent case of Domain Associates LLC v. Shah, C.A. No. 12921-VCL (Aug. 13, 2018), well illustrates these principles—the court applied default rules under the Limited Liability Company Act to hold that an expelled member of a Delaware LLC was entitled to the fair value of his interest and not simply to the value of his capital account. More ›