Archive: July 2015

Chancery Court Dismisses Appraisal Challenge Based on Re-Titling of Shares, But Advocates For a Different Approach

By Annette Becker and Lauren Garraux

On July 13, 2015, Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster issued his Memorandum Opinion in In re Appraisal of Dell Inc. in which he granted Dell’s motion for summary judgment against five institutions which owned Dell common stock and sought appraisal in connection with a going-private merger of the Company which closed in October 2013.  Though Vice Chancellor Laster acknowledged that Dell’s motion “must be granted” based on existing Delaware precedent interpreting the requirement that a stockholder who wishes to pursue appraisal “continuously hold[] such shares through the effective date of the merger,” the Vice Chancellor advocated for and urged the Delaware Supreme Court to adopt the federal law approach which, if applied, would allow the petitioners’ appraisal challenge to proceed.

In February 2013, Dell agreed to a merger in which each publicly held share of Dell common stock would be converted into the right to receive $13.75 in cash, subject to the right of stockholders to seek appraisal under Section 262 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”).  In July 2013, prior to the vote on the merger, five institutions who owned approximately 922,975 shares of Dell common stock (the “Petitioners” or “Funds”) in street name through their custodial banks caused Cede & Co. (“Cede”), the nominee of the Depository Trust Company (“DTC”) and the entity in whose name the shares were registered, to demand appraisal rights on their behalf .

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Chancery Court Dismisses Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims Against Company and Its Board of Directors Relating to 2014 Recapitalization, But Holds That Contract Claims May Proceed

By Annette Becker and Lauren Garraux

In a July 8, 2015 letter opinion, Vice Chancellor John W. Noble granted in part and denied in part the motion of Capella Holdings, Inc. and Capella Healthcare, Inc. (“Capella” or the “Company”) and five Capella directors (the “Director Defendants”) (collectively, “Defendants”) to dismiss breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract claims asserted against them by James Thomas Anderson (“Anderson”), a founder and former director and officer of Capella, relating to a 2014 recapitalization of the Company.

Anderson’s counterclaims against Defendants all arise from a recapitalization of Capella which the Director Defendants approved in April 2014.  Anderson voted against the recapitalization, which decreased Anderson’s ownership percentage in the Company, as well as that of the minority shareholders, and increased the ownership percentage of affiliates of GTCR Golder Rauner II LLC (“GTCR”), which, upon Capella’s formation, made an equity investment of approximately $206 million in the Company.

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Delaware Chancery Court Addresses Alleged Breaches of LLC Agreement

By Scott Waxman and Sophia Lee Shin

NewYork.com Internet Holdings, Inc. v. Entertainment Benefits Group, LLC, et al., involves a dispute between the two owners, each with a 50% interest, of NewYork.com Entertainment Group, LLC (“NYEG” or the “Company”). The plaintiff alleged that the Company’s board (the “Board”) was deadlocked because it had been excluded from all decision-making and sought dissolution, and the defendant counterclaimed for various breaches by the plaintiff of the Company’s operating agreement; the plaintiff then moved to strike the defendant’s counterclaim or dismiss it in its entirety. In this opinion, the court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff’s motion to strike, and denied in its entirety the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss.

The plaintiff and defendant in this case were the two owners of NYEG. The principals of the plaintiff, NewYork.com Internet Holdings, Inc. (“NYIH”), were the original registrants of the domain name NewYork.com, a website that sells and markets travel and entertainment tickets in New York. The defendant, Entertainment Benefits Group, LLC (“EBG”), is in the business of selling and marketing travel and entertainment tickets.

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Chancery Court Dismisses Derivative Lawsuit against GM Directors Relating to Recalled Ignition Switches, Finding That Plaintiffs Failed to Show Demand Futility

By Scott Waxman and Lauren Garraux

In a June 26, 2015 Memorandum Opinion, Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III dismissed a derivative complaint filed by stockholders of General Motors (“GM”) relating to defective ignition switches that led to the recall of approximately 13 million GM vehicles beginning in February 2014.  According to Vice Chancellor Glasscock, Plaintiffs failed to adequately plead bad faith on the part of the GM directors named as defendants in the lawsuit and, therefore, failed to show demand futility under Chancery Rule 23.1.

The general facts underlying this derivative lawsuit have been widely publicized and relate to GM’s recall of approximately 13 million vehicles for issues with the vehicles’ ignition switch, which caused a vehicle’s engine and electrical system to shut off, disabling power steering and power brakes and causing the vehicle’s airbags to not deploy in the event of a crash.

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Delaware Court of Chancery Declines to Dismiss Claims for Breach of Contract and Breach of Fiduciary Duties

By Nick Froio and Zack Sager

In CMS Investment Holdings, LLC v. Castle, the Delaware Court of Chancery declined to dismiss claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duties, and civil conspiracy, among others.

In Castle, the Plaintiff, CMS Investment Holdings, LLC, was a member of, and holder of Class A units in, RP Holdings Group, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (the “Company”). The business of the Company (i.e., providing non-legal administrative services in connection with mortgage foreclosures) was created by the principal Defendants (i.e., five individuals who practiced law in Colorado and Arkansas). The Defendants held Class B and C units in the Company and ran the business in their various capacities as employees, officers, and managers of the Company. The Plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the Defendants, along with several of their affiliated entities, intentionally failed to make distributions to the Plaintiff, as a Class A unitholder, in favor of the Defendants in violation of the Company’s limited liability company agreement (the “LLC Agreement”). The Plaintiff also alleged that the Defendants purposefully took actions to block the Company from receiving much-needed debt refinancing, facilitated the Company‘s decline into insolvency, secretly negotiated with its creditors, and then, through their affiliated entities, purchased on favorable terms a major part of the Company’s business back from the Company in receivership.

The Plaintiff brought direct claims against the Defendants alleging (1) breach of the LLC Agreement and the implied contractual covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (2) breach of fiduciary duties, (3) aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duties, (4) civil conspiracy, and (5) violation of the Delaware Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

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