Photo of Delaware Inside & Out K. Tyler O'Connell
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toconnell@morrisjames.com
302.888.6892
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Tyler O’Connell is a partner in the Corporate and Commercial Litigation group. He represents companies, members of management and investors in business disputes before the …

Showing 4 posts by K. Tyler O'Connell.

Court Rejects Use of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing to Preserve LLC Members’ Exit Sale Rights

K. Tyler O’ConnellThe implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing inheres in all contracts governed by Delaware law. In some circumstances, the implied covenant may apply to fill “gaps” in an agreement consistent with the parties’ reasonable expectations at the time of contracting. Delaware courts have held, however, that implying terms in this manner should be a cautious enterprise.

The Delaware Supreme Court’s recent decision in Oxbow Carbon & Minerals Holdings v. Crestview-Oxbow Acquisition, __ A.3d __, 2019 WL 237360 (Del. Jan. 17, 2019) emphasizes that implying terms as a “gap filler” is “a limited and extraordinary remedy” that does not protect sophisticated parties from the harsh operation of contract provisions in circumstances the parties could have anticipated. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that minority members of a limited liability company had no recourse to the implied covenant when the admission of new members reset certain capital return requirements that had to be satisfied before the minority members had the right to liquidate their investments through a sale of the company. The Supreme Court did so notwithstanding the Delaware Court of Chancery’s finding that, had the issue been identified and addressed at the time the new members were admitted, the minority members would not have agreed to that result. More ›

High Court Again Denies 'Corwin' Deference Due to Material Omissions Concerning Sale Process

Earlier this year, the Delaware Supreme Court held that Corwin deference was not warranted where a recommendation statement to stockholders disclosed that a founder and board chairman abstained from recommending in favor of an M&A transaction, but omitted certain facts evident from meeting minutes, such as his disappointment with the company’s management and the transaction price, and his view that it was not the right time to sell. See Appel v. Berkman, 180 A.3d 1055 (Del. 2018).   More ›

Chancery Court Declines Stockholder Invitations to Expand Transactions Subject to Appraisal Rights

Appraisal rights have been the subject of increased focus in the current, post-Corwinenvironment, in which a fully-informed noncoerced stockholder vote suffices to dispose of most M&A challenges. In two recent decisions, the Delaware Court of Chancery considered attempts by stockholder-plaintiffs to expand the scope of transactions subject to appraisal rights.  In both cases, the court reinforced that appraisal rights are not available in transactions that do not satisfy 8 Del. C. Section 262’s express criteria. In doing so, the court rejected stockholder-plaintiffs’ arguments that appraisal rights should be available in the circumstances.

Akile v. Rite Aid, C.A. No. 2018-0305-AGB (Del. Ch. May 9, 2018) (Transcript).

In early May, the Court of Chancery declined to expedite an M&A challenge premised upon Rite Aid Corp.’s (Rite Aid) alleged failure to disclose that its proposed acquisition by Albertsons Companies, Inc. (Albertsons) triggered appraisal rights.

The acquisition at issue is to be effected by a merger between Rite Aid and a wholly owned subsidiary of Albertsons. Under the merger agreement, each share of Rite Aid stock will be exchanged for a partial share of Albertsons common stock, plus (either an additional fractional share of Albertsons stock or cash, at the election of each stockholder. More ›

Delaware Public Policy Does Not Preclude D&O Insurance Coverage for Fraud

In Arch Insurance v. Murdock, (Del. Ch. Mar. 1, 2018), a D&O insurance coverage dispute, the state Superior Court’s complex commercial litigation division reasoned broadly to hold that, absent a contrary choice of law clause, Delaware law applies to Delaware corporations’ D&O insurance policies, and that Delaware public policy does not prohibit insuring losses from insureds’ breaching the fiduciary duty of loyalty through fraudulent conduct. More ›