Archive: April 2017

Chancery Court Dismisses All Claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Fraud, and Company Dissolution Brought by Creditor

By: Scott Waxman and H. Corinne Smith

In Steven B. Trusa v. Norman Nepo, et al., Civil Action No. 12071-VCMR, the Delaware Court of Chancery granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that the creditor plaintiff lacked standing to pursue a claim for breach of fiduciary duty and a claim for dissolution of the company, that he failed to state a claim for the remaining assertions, and that the declaratory judgment claim was duplicative.

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Court of Chancery Explains Demand Futility Pleading Requirements in the Context of Delaware LLCs

By: Scott Waxman and Zack Sager

In LVI Group Investments, LLC v. NCM Group Holdings, LLC, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware looked to Delaware corporate law for demand futility pleading requirements in dismissing a derivative claim for breach of fiduciary duties against managers of a Delaware limited liability company (an “LLC”).  In addition, the Court of Chancery analyzed the requirements for a member of an LLC sufficiently to plead a direct claim against managers of the LLC and analyzed the requirements for pleading a claim of fraud.

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Chancery Court Holds That Stockholder Vote on Merger Was Neither Fully-Informed nor Uncoerced

By: Lisa R. Stark and Taylor B. Bartholomew

In In re Saba Software, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, C.A. No. 10697-VCS (Del. Ch. Mar. 31, 2017, revised Apr. 11, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that the board of Saba Software, Inc. could not invoke the business judgment rule under the Corwin doctrine in response to a fiduciary challenge arising from Saba’s acquisition by Vector Capital Management, L.P.  According to the Court, plaintiff pled facts which supported a reasonable inference that the stockholder vote approving the acquisition was neither fully-informed nor uncoerced.  The Court also denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims that the Saba board breached its duty of loyalty and engaged in acts of bad faith by rushing the sales process, refusing to consider alternatives to the merger and granting itself substantial equity awards.

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Chancery Court Enters Declaratory Judgments in Favor of Plaintiff and Finds that Defendant’s Actions Justify Sanctions

By: Scott E. Waxman and Stephanie S. Liu

In Ensing v. Ensing, C.A. No. 12591-VCS (March. 6, 2017), Vice Chancellor Slights entered declaratory judgments in favor of the plaintiff, concluding that the defendant’s actions were null and void as a matter of law. A husband and wife, Dr. Hans Ensing (“Hans”) and Sara Ensing (“Sara”) own and operate a winery and boutique hotel in Italy. The businesses operate indirectly through two Delaware limited liability companies. Prior to the events leading up to this litigation, Sara was a manager and member of one of the entities and, through that entity, was manager of the other. Hans was neither a member nor manager of either entity. When Hans purported to remove Sara and appoint himself as manager of one of the two entities and then engaged in a series of transactions to divest Sara of her interests in the winery and hotel, Sara initiated this action.

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Chancery Court considers who should decide whether certain disputes are arbitrable — the court or an arbitrator selected by the parties?

By: John Blair & Ernest Simons

In Greenstar IH Rep, LLC and Gary Segal v. Tutor Perini Corporation, Civil Action No. 12885-VCS (Del. Ch. Ct. February 23, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery granted in part and denied in part defendant’s motion for preliminary injunction, holding that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to decide the question of substantive arbitrability when an employment agreement contains a broad arbitration provision that evidences the parties intent to arbitrate arbitrability.

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Master in Chancery recommends enjoining a business from using a trade name and mark similar to those already used by another business

By: Scott E. Waxman and Thomas F. Meyer

Master in Chancery Kim E. Ayvazian issued a final report in Ambient Heating & Cooling LLC v. Shepard, Jr., C.A. No. 9596-MA (Del. Ch. March 28, 2017), recommending that the Court of Chancery grant injunctive relief to a Delaware limited liability company seeking to enjoin a Delaware partnership from operating a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (“HVAC”) business under a name and mark similar to its own.

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Court of Chancery Upholds Validity of General Release Between Company and Former President, Grants Summary Judgment in Former President’s Favor

By: David Forney and Tami Mack

In Seiden v. Kaneko, C.A. No 9861-VCS (Del. Ch. March 22, 2017), the Court of Chancery held that the general release that Southern China Livestock, Inc. (the “Company”) had entered into with former President Shu Kaneko (“Kaneko”) in exchange for Kaneko’s assistance in recovering certain Company shares was binding and enforceable.  Thus, the Court held that Kaneko had been released from all claims asserted against him by the Company’s receiver (the “Receiver”) and granted summary judgment in Kaneko’s favor.

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Chancery Court Rejects Stockholder’s Demand for Books and Records

By: Whitney Smith and Kevin Szu-Tu

In Haque v. Tesla Motors, Inc., C.A. No. 12651-VCS (Feb. 2, 2017), Vice Chancellor Slights declined to compel the defendant, Tesla Motors, Inc. (“Tesla”), to produce certain books and records demanded by Plaintiff stockholder in an action brought under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporate Law (“Section 220”).  Applying well settled Delaware law that a stockholder’s right to inspect books and records under Section 220 is broad but not unlimited, Vice Chancellor Slights denied Plaintiff’s demand, ruling that the Plaintiff failed to demonstrate a credible basis from which the Court could infer wrongdoing.

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By: Susan A. Apel & Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In Rainbow Mountain, Inc. v. Terry Begeman, C.A. No. 10221-VCMR (Del. Ch. March 23, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery issued a declaratory judgment on cross-motions for summary judgment regarding whether pro se defendant, Terry Begeman, was properly removed as a director, member, and officer of plaintiff nonstock corporation Rainbow Mountain, Inc. (“Rainbow Mountain” or the “corporation”).  Based on uncontroverted facts, the Court determined that Terry[1] had been properly removed as Secretary, but retained his position as Senior Vice-President, director and member.  Under the bylaws, as a “Regular Member” of Rainbow Mountain, Terry had the right to occupy the corporation’s land.

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