Archive: September 2016

Chancery Court Finds Statute of Limitations Bars Humvee Joint Venture Breach of Contract Claims

By Scott Waxman and Mark Hammes

In AM General Holdings v. The Renco Group, C.A. No. 7639-VCS (Del. Ch. Aug. 22, 2016), the Court of Chancery held that Delaware’s three-year statute of limitations barred contract claims brought by one party in a joint venture to produce Humvee automobiles against its joint venture partner.

AM General LLC (“AM General”) manufactured and sold specialized vehicles including the Humvee. Prior to 2004, its sole member was The Renco Group, Inc. (“Renco”).  In August 2004, Renco and MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.  (“M&F”) entered into a joint venture with Renco whereby they formed AM General Holdings LLC (“Holdco”).  Renco contributed AM General to Holdco and M&F contributed cash.  An M&F subsidiary became the managing member of Holdco.  A Holdco Agreement set forth the mechanisms for distribution of profits between Renco and M&F and provided for certain contractual protections for Renco, restricting certain related party transactions, management fees, distributions and the like and giving Renco access to books and records of Holdco.

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Plaintiff’s Counsel Recovery in a Derivative Case Settling Under the Transitive Property Limited to Actual Benefit to Plaintiffs

By: Nicholas Froio and David Noll

In Baker v. Sadiq, C.A. No. 9464-VCL (Del. Ch. August 16, 2016), the Court held that the proper calculation of an attorney’s contingency fee for a derivative action settled using the transitive property is based upon the actual settlement value. Baker concerned fees owed to plaintiff’s counsel (“Counsel”) after the settlement of a derivative action by minority shareholders for misappropriation by the majority shareholder.  The settlement of those claims was a buyout of the minority shareholders at a better pro rata value than could be expected from the derivative action.  By holding that the appropriate measure of fees is based upon actual cash payments, Plaintiff’s counsel received approximately one ninth of its expected award to be collected from an entity with no assets.

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Chancery Court Finds Unqualified Inspection Right in Statutory Trust Agreement Renders Default Preconditions and Defenses Inapplicable

By: Scott Waxman and Eric Jay

In Grand Acquisition LLC v. Passco Indian Springs DST, C.A. No. 12003-VCMR (Del. Ch. Aug. 26, 2016) the Delaware Court of Chancery found that under the Delaware Statutory Trust Act (the “Act”), the governing instrument of a Delaware statutory trust (DST) does not need to affirmatively disavow the preconditions and defenses applicable to inspection rights related to a DST’s books and records under Section 3819 of the Act in order to create a separate and distinct contractual right that can, in some circumstances, render statutory preconditions and defenses inapplicable to such requests. Read More

Innocence Lost: The Rebuttable Presumption Of Stock Ownership

By Joanna Diakos Kordalis and Priya Chadha

In Pogue v. Hybrid Energy, Inc., C.A. No. 11563-VCG (Aug. 5, 2016), the Court of Chancery held that inclusion of a party (in this case the plaintiff) in a stock record provides a prima facie but rebuttable case that such party is a stockholder of record for purposes of seeking books and records under DGCL Section 220.  In Pogue, the Court held that the defendant had successfully rebutted the presumption that plaintiff was a stockholder by clear and convincing evidence and therefore the Court denied the plaintiff the relief sought and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgement.

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Chancery Court Determines the Appropriate Valuation Method for Use in Connection with an Appraisal Action Involving the Greatest Divergence among Valuations the Court Has Seen to Date

By: David L. Forney and David Valenti

In determining the fair value of stock of a privately held corporation at the time of a cash-out merger in connection with an appraisal action by minority stockholders—where one of the minority stockholders’ experts proffered a fair value greater than eight times that provided by the company’s expert—the Delaware Court of Chancery found that the valuation method used by the company’s expert was unreliable. The Court held that in this case the discounted cash flow analysis is the most reliable indicator of fair value because (1) the company’s stock is not publicly traded, (2) historical sales of stock are not reliable indicators of fair value, and (3) no comparable company valuation exists.

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