Delaware Docket

Timely, brief summaries of cases handed down by the Delaware Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court.

 

Chancery Court Reaffirms Delaware Policy of Broad Section 220 Stockholder Inspection Rights

By: Christopher J. Voss and Zane A. Madden

In Lebanon County Employees’ Retirement Fund and Teamsters Local 443 Health Services & Insurance Plan v. AmerisourceBergen Corp., C.A. No 2019-0527-JTL (Del. Ch. Jan. 13, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) granted the plaintiffs’ demand to inspect the defendant’s books and records.  In so doing, the Court upheld the plaintiffs’ stated justifications for seeking review of the books and records as a proper purpose under Delaware law.

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Court of Chancery Hesitates to Dismiss Lawsuit, Stays Litigation Pending Texas Lawsuit

By: Scott E. Waxman and Marissa Leon

In EnVen Energy Corporation v. David M. Dunwoody, Jr., et al. (C.A. No. 2019-0579-KSJM), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) stayed litigation pending the outcome of a separate lawsuit filed in Texas to give deference to a plaintiff’s chosen forum, to avoid wasting judicial resources and to foreclose potential conflicting rulings.

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Chancery Court Rules on Fraud Claims and Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim against a Solar Project Fund and its Manager

By: Scott E. Waxman and Marissa Leon

In HOMF II Investment Corp., et al v. Joaquin Altenberg, et al. (C.A. No. 2017-0293-JTL), the Delaware Chancery Court (the “Court”) ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on a breach of fiduciary duty claim, in favor of the defendant on a fraud in the inducement claim due to the plaintiffs’ failure to give defendant procedural notice and in favor of the defendant on plaintiff’s second claim of fraud due to the plaintiffs’ failure to prove fraud while operating a fund.

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CHANCERY COURT DECLINES TO MOVE BOOKS AND RECORDS DISPUTE TO NEW YORK DESPITE NEW YORK VENUE CLAUSE IN LLC AGREEMENT

By: Scott Waxman and Claire Suni

In Joseph Stanco v. Rallye Motors Holding LLC, C.A.  No. 2019-0751-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 23, 2019), a former managing member of a Delaware limited liability company (“LLC”) brought an action to compel inspection of the company’s books and records in the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”).  The company moved to dismiss the action on the basis that (i) its LLC Agreement designated New York as the venue for dispute resolution and (ii) a different plaintiff was simultaneously pursuing a similar action with respect to the same documents in New York.  The Court was not persuaded by either of the company’s arguments and denied its motion to dismiss.

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Delaware Court of Chancery Imposes Charging Order on Distributions Related to Defendant’s LLC Membership Interest

By: Scott E. Waxman and Serena M. Hamann

In GFM ELCM Fund L.P. et al. v. ELCM HCRE GP LLC et al., C.A. No. 2018-0840-SG (Del. Ch. May 18, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery issued a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) and imposed an Interim Charging Order on the limited liability company interest of an individual defendant and ordered that any distributions related to the defendant’s membership interest be made directly to the Plaintiffs in satisfaction of amounts due.

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Chancery Court Declines to Dismiss Derivative Claims for Audit Committee Oversight Failure and Unjust Enrichment

By: Remsen Kinne and Michael C. Payant

In William Hughes, Jr. v. Xiaoming Hu, et al., C.A. No. 2019-0112-JTL (Del. Ch. April 27, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) held that stockholder plaintiff’s failure to make a demand on the board of directors (the “Board”) was excused and therefore denied defendants’ motions to dismiss under Court of Chancery Rules 23.1 and 12(b)(6) derivative claims brought by plaintiff on behalf of Kandi Technologies Group, Inc., a public Delaware corporation based in China (the “Company”).  The derivative claims alleged that the Board, acting through its Audit Committee (the “Committee”), breached fiduciary duties by failing to implement effective oversight of the Company’s disclosure and financial information reporting controls and procedures and that as a result Company officers were unjustly enriched.

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Chancery Court Rules that LLC Unit Buyout Provision Operated As a Call Option

By Scott Waxman and Priya Chadha

In Kieran Walsh et al. v. White House Post Productions, LLC, et al., C.A. No. 2019-0419-KSJM (March 25, 2020), Plaintiffs Kieran Walsh and Francis Devlin brought claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and specific performance following a dispute with Defendant Carbon Visual Effects, LLC (the “Company”) regarding a buyout provision in the Company’s LLC Agreement.  On a motion to dismiss, Vice Chancellor McCormick held that the buyout provision operated as a call option, requiring Defendants to purchase Plaintiffs’ LLC units once it exercised its option by noticing its intent to purchase them.

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COURT OF CHANCERY DECIDES MOTIONS TO DISMISS, MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS WHEN PLAINTIFF SUES STOCKHOLDERS AND DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY HE FOUNDED

By:  David L. Forney and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In Craig T. Bouchard v. Braidy Industries, Inc., et al., Case No. 2020-0097-KSJM (Del. Ch. Apr. 28, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed various motions filed by both Plaintiff and Defendants, including Defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, Plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings regarding an individual defendant’s defense, and Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.  Plaintiff Craig Bouchard filed suit against Defendants claiming breach of contract regarding a voting agreement to which Bouchard and each of Defendants are a party.  The Court granted the motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendants.  Further, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings regarding the defense of unclean hands asserted by Defendant Braidy Industries, Inc.  Lastly, the Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on his breach of contract claim, finding that the factual records needed further development. 

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Court of Chancery Defers to Board of Director’s Business Judgment in Response to Stockholder’s Dividend Demand

By: James S. Bruce and Marissa Leon

In Buckley Family Trust v. Charles Patrick McCleary, et al. (C.A. No. 2018-0903-AGB), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) granted defendants’ motion to dismiss a stockholder’s claims to compel the company to pay a dividend and also dismissed the stockholder’s claim alleging breach of fiduciary duty of care regarding decisions made by the board of directors of the company.

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Court of Chancery Applies Entire Fairness Standard to Stock Sale Approved by Interested Board of Directors

By: Annette Becker and Marissa Leon

In Marion Coster v. UIP Companies, Inc. (C.A. No. 2018-0440-KSJM) the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) addressed a dispute over the control and ownership of a company following a sale of unissued stock to a company executive.  The Court applied the entire fairness standard to review the stock sale transaction and held it was fair in light of a valuation report obtained by the defendants in the case and entered judgment in favor of the defendants validated the stock issuance.

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Court of Chancery Analyzes LLC Valuation Reports in Connection With Breach of Fiduciary Duty

By: Scott Waxman and Zack Sager

In Zachman v. Real Time Cloud Services, LLC, the Delaware Court of Chancery analyzed competing expert reports valuing a Delaware limited liability company in connection with a breach of fiduciary duty claim.  The Court also denied motions to exclude a valuation report and for sanctions relating to discovery abuses, and denied the Delaware limited liability company’s counterclaims for conversion and tortious interference with contract.

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ATTEMPT TO SEIZE CONTROL OF A BEVERAGE COMPANY? COURT OF CHANCERY FINDS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE OF CIVIL CONSPIRACY

By: C. Cartwright Bibee and Claire Suni

In Todd O’Gara and Wanu Water, Inc. v. Sheldon Coleman, et al., C.A. No. 2018-0708-KSJM (Del. Ch. Feb. 14, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) granted a motion to dismiss claims made in connection with an alleged conspiracy to seize control of a beverage company by certain former directors and current stockholders. The founder and the company itself filed the complaint asserting claims for breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with business relations and contract, civil conspiracy, and libel. The Court found that the complaint failed to plead facts satisfying the essential elements of each claim and, furthermore, did not establish personal jurisdiction over certain of the defendants.

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