Archive: 2021

“consistent with longstanding principles of law and capitalism”: chancery court finds that a bidder cannot be liable for directors’ breach of fiduciary duty without knowledge of the breach

By: Scott Waxman and Jeremy Crites

In Jacobs v. Meghji, et al. (C.A. No. 2019-1022-MTZ), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) dismissed Mark Jacobs’ direct and derivative claims that Ares Management Corporation (“Ares”) aided and abetted breaches of fiduciary duty allegedly committed by directors of Infrastructure &  Energy Alternatives, Inc. (“IEA”) on the grounds that Jacobs failed to plead a necessary element of the claim. Additionally, the Court dismissed Jacobs’ claim of unjust enrichment against Ares, again finding that Jacobs failed to plead a necessary element of the claim.

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Delaware Court of Chancery Finds Oral Agreement to Form a Joint Venture Enforceable

By: Scott Waxman and Serena Hamann

In Leonard F. Iacono Sr. et al. v. Estate of Joseph M. Capano et al, C.A. No. 11841-VCL (Del. Ch. June 29, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the evidence, construed in favor of the Plaintiffs, could support a finding that an enforceable oral agreement to form a joint venture existed between the parties.

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MetLife Stockholders Demand Futility Claims Dismissed

By: Scott E. Waxman and Marissa Leon

In the matter of In Re MetLife Inc. Derivative Litigation (Consol. C.A. No. 2019-0452-SG), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that stockholder plaintiffs seeking to hold corporate fiduciaries liable to MetLife, Inc. for failure to adequately oversee the operation of the business failed to plead facts sufficient to imply director liability or otherwise excuse demand under Rule 23.1.

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Chancery Court Enforces Merger Agreement Milestone Payment Despite Time and Cost to Bring Experimental Drug to Market

By: Scott Waxman and Zane Madden

In Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. Shire US Holdings, Inc. and Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC , C.A. No. 2017-0863-KSJM (Del. Ch. October 12, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) held that Shire US Holdings, Inc.’s (together with Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC, “Shire”) failure to initiate Phase III clinical trials for an experimental drug acquired via merger was improper because said failure was due to a series of development delays routine to the pharmaceutical industry and every-day business decisions, in contravention of the language of the merger agreement.

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DIRECT AND DERIVATIVE? CHANCERY COURT CERTIFIES INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL, ASKS SUPREME COURT TO CLARIFY DUAL CHARACTER STOCKHOLDER CLAIMS

By Scott E. Waxman and Cate H. Gelband

In In re Terraform Power, Inc. Stockholders Litigation, C.A. No. 2019-0757-SG (Del. Ch. November 24, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) granted defendants’ Application for Certification of Interlocutory Appeal, giving the Delaware Supreme Court (the “Supreme Court”) an opportunity to clarify its decision in Gentile v. Rossette (“Gentile”) under which stockholders’ claims for a specific type of breach of fiduciary duty can have “dual character” as both derivative and direct. The Court relied on two factors under Delaware Supreme Court Rule 42 (“Rule 42”)—whether consideration of the appeal may end the litigation, and whether review of the appeal may serve considerations of justice—and held that the matter presented “a rare case” in which an interlocutory appeal was justified.

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CHANCERY COURT APPLIES INTERNAL AFFAIRS DOCTRINE TO DECLARATORY ACTION FOR INSPECTION RIGHTS SOUGHT UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW

By: Annette E. Becker and Claire Suni

In Juul Labs, Inc. v. Daniel Grove, C.A. No. 2020-0005-JTL (Del. Ch. August 13, 2020), defendant and e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, Inc. (“Juul”) is a privately held Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in California. The Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) granted in part Juul’s motion for declaratory judgment, which sought confirmation that a stockholder seeking inspection rights was limited to rights and remedies under the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”), and could not apply California law, among other things. The Court held that inspection rights are a matter of internal affairs under the internal affairs doctrine articulated by the Supreme Court, and thus Delaware law applies.

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MANAGEMENT CANNOT UNILATERALLY PRECLUDE DIRECTORS FROM OBTAINING PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS

By: Rich Minice and Annette Becker

In In re WeWork Litigation, C.A. No. 2020-0258-AGB (Del. Ch. Aug. 21, 2020), a special committee of the board of directors of The We Company (the “Company”) sought to obtain certain privileged communication among management of the Company and its counsel in discovery arising from breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty case. The Court held that management of a Delaware corporation (“Management”) does not have the authority to unilaterally preclude a director of the corporation from obtaining the corporation’s privileged information, an issue of first impression in the State of Delaware.

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