In Pagliara v. Federal National Mortgage Association, C.A. No. 12105-VCMR (Del. Ch. May 31, 2017) the Court of Chancery dismissed a complaint brought by a preferred stockholder of Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fanny Mae”) seeking to enforce his rights under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law to obtain documents (“Section 220 Demand”) to investigate certain actions of Fannie Mae on issue preclusion grounds. The Court of Chancery ruled that a prior judgment of the Eastern District of Virginia was preclusive on the dispositive issue of whether Fannie Mae stockholders retained the right to obtain the corporate books and records of Fannie Mae under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (the “HERA”).
In Henry v. Phixios Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 12504-VCMR (Del. Ch. July 10, 2017), the Court of Chancery, interpreting Section 202 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, found that a stockholder had not forfeited his shares by engaging in activities prohibited by stock transfer restrictions contained in a company stockholder agreement, because the restrictions were not printed on the stock certificate and the stockholder did not have actual knowledge of the restrictions at the time that he acquired the stock, and did not agree to the restrictions thereafter. The Court of Chancery therefore rejected the company’s assertions that the individual was a former stockholder rather than a current stockholder, and ordered the company to produce books and records requested by the individual in his capacity as a stockholder.
In Yu v. GSM Nation, LLC, C.A. No. 12293-VCMR (Del. Ch. July 7, 2017), the Court of Chancery dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Looking at the complaint holistically, the Court found plaintiff’s nominal pleading of equitable claims and relief insufficient to create jurisdiction where the alleged non-repayment of debt could be adequately remedied at law.
In Morris vs. Spectra Energy Partners (DE) GP, LP, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware found that a limited partner adequately pled that the general partner of a master limited partnership breached its contractual duty to act in good faith in connection with a conflicted transaction between the master limited partnership and the indirect parent of the general partner. The Court also dismissed claims for breach of the implied contractual covenant of good faith and fair dealing and tortious interference with a partnership agreement.
In Sciabacucchi v. Liberty Broadband Corporation, C.A. No. 11418-VCG (Del. Ch. May 31, 2017), the Court of Chancery ruled on a motion to dismiss by defendants Liberty Broadband Corporation (“Liberty”), a stockholder of Charter Communications, Inc. (“Charter”) and officers and directors of Charter. The Court held that facts alleged by plaintiff, a Charter stockholder, supported the inference that a vote by Charter stockholders approving a shares issuance to and voting proxy agreement with Liberty was structurally coercive. The Court determined that since the vote was coercive, it did not ratify actions by Liberty and Charter’s directors and officers claimed by plaintiff to have breached fiduciary duties of loyalty. As a result, the Court held, defendants were not entitled to dismissal of plaintiff’s claims solely on the basis that stockholder vote ratification operated to “cleanse” fiduciary duties breaches.
In In re Appraisal of GoodCents Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 11723-VCMR, Vice-Chancellor Montgomery-Reeves held that, following a merger, a provision in the target company’s certificate of incorporation only provided preferred stockholders a voting right, not an entitlement to a liquidation preference.
In Elow v. Express Scripts Holding Company, C.A. No.12721-VCMR and Khandhar v. Express Scripts Holding Company, C.A. No. 12734-VCMR (Del. Ch. May 31, 2017), the Court of Chancery held that plaintiff shareholder Clifford Elow’s (“Elow”) demand to inspect certain books and records of Express Scripts Holding Company (the “Company”) met all statutory requirements and stated a proper purpose, while plaintiff (and purported shareholder) Amitkumar Khandhar’s (“Khandhar”) demand did not. Thus, the Court granted Elow’s Section 220 demand subject to a confidentiality agreement and denied Khandhar’s demand.
By letter report dated June 8, 2017, Master of Chancery Morgan T. Zurn recommended dismissal of the complaint in Walker v. Cabo Verde Capital, Inc., C.A. No. 11696-MZ (Del. Ch. June 8, 2017), finding that the plaintiff lacked standing to compel inspection of a non-extant Delaware company’s books and records. Citing recent developments in Delaware law, the Court held that the plaintiff could not satisfy the “stockholder” prerequisite for filing a Section 220 action because all stockholder interest had been previously extinguished by the company’s merger into a foreign corporation.
In Mark S. Davis, et al. v. EMSI Holding Company, C.A. No. 12854-VCS (Del. Ch. May 3, 2017) the Delaware Chancery Court granted a motion for summary judgment brought by former officers of the defendant (“EMSI”) seeking advancement of legal fees for their defense in a related action, EMSI Acquisition, Inc. v. Contrarian Funds, LLC, et al., C.A. No. 12648-VCS (Del. Ch. May 3, 2017). In granting the motion, the Court considered whether the plaintiffs had waived or released their right to advancement in the exclusive remedies provision or the seller release provision of the Stock Purchase Agreement (“SPA”) entered into in connection with the sale of EMSI. The Court concluded that the SPA provisions did not waive or release the officers’ right to advancement of defense costs under EMSI’s bylaws and a sufficient nexus existed between the plaintiffs’ role as former officers and the claims in EMSI Acquisition requiring their defense.
In Delaware Acceptance Corporation, CACV of Colorado, LLC and 202 Investments, Inc., v. Estate of Frank C. Metzner, the Court of Chancery removed the executrix of an estate for breaching her fiduciary duty to a creditor of the estate. The case hinged on the authenticity of several documents, which if found to be forged would lead to the dissolution of an LLC and a distribution of its assets. The Court of Chancery found that the executrix was not a credible witness, and, therefore, it could not trust the authenticity of documents that she presented in support of the continued existence of the LLC. Read More
In Meyers et al. v. Quiz-Dia LLC et al., No. 9878-VCL (Del. Ch. June 6, 2017), the Court of Chancery, entered a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs entitling them to indemnification from Quizmark LLC (“Quizmark”) and QCE Gift Card LLC (“QCE Gift Card”). The Chancery Court also determined that the plaintiffs were not entitled to indemnification from Quiz-Dia LLC (“Quiz-Dia”).
The plaintiffs, Greg MacDonald (“MacDonald”) and Dennis Smyth (“Smyth”), were officers of the principal operating entity of Quiznos, QCE LLC (“OpCo”), and claim to have been officers of all of OpCo’s subsidiaries, including Quizmark, QCE Gift Card, and Quiz-Dia (collectively, the “Subs”). By 2012, various investment funds (the “Funds”) had accumulated substantial positions in OpCo’s debt and OpCo was having difficulty operating its business. This granted the Funds the power to declare a default under OpCo’s loan agreements. To neutralize the threat of default, OpCo entered into a complex restructuring transaction which transferred the ultimate ownership of OpCo and its subsidiaries to the Funds (the “Restructuring”). MacDonald and Smythe left Quiznos shortly thereafter.
By Shoshannah Katz and Tom Sperber
In Francis M. Ford (VMware Inc.) v. VMware Inc. C.A. No. 11714-VCL (Del. Ch. May 2, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint in full for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Francis M. Ford (“Plaintiff”) alleged breaches of fiduciary duty against VMware Inc. (“VMware”), EMC Corp. (“EMC”), Denali Holding Co. (“Denali”), Dell Inc. (“Dell”), Universal Acquisition Co. (“Universal”), and several directors of these companies. Plaintiff was a minority stockholder of VMware prior to a merger between EMC, VMware’s controlling stockholder, and Denali that closed in September 2016. The Court held that Plaintiff failed to allege that the parties to the merger breached any fiduciary duties to the VMware stockholders or that the parties otherwise bound VMware to unfair terms. The Court also found that the restructuring of VMware prior to the merger was subject to the business judgment rule, and that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead that Denali’s issuance of a tracking stock reflecting the performance of VMware’s stock price was a misappropriation or a wrongful dilution.