Archive: October 2021

Lawyer and Witness? Not so fast. Chancery Warns Trial Counsel That His Plan To Testify Flouts Ethical Rules

By: Brian D. Koosed and Adam R.D. Paine

In In re Straight Path Communications Shareholder Litigation, C.A. No. 2017-0486-SG the Delaware Court of Chancery considered plaintiffs’ motion to compel and motion to supplement case schedule to impose an election deadline regarding defendants’ counsel’s role at trial as lead counsel and as a witness for the defense.  The Court found the motion to be premature and made no determination as to whether an ethical violation occurred.

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Chancery Court Reaffirms Application of Business Judgment Rule from M & F Worldwide While Dismissing Unsupported Complaint

By Michael Waller and Molly Mugford

In Franchi v. Firestone, et al., C.A. No. 2020-0503-KSMJ (Del. Ch. May 10, 2020), Defendants’ moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ action challenging a going-private transaction claiming that the Special Committee set up by the Board of Directors (“Board”) to analyze the merger lacked independence and failed to exercise its duty of care, and the vote of the minority stockholders was not informed. The Chancery Court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, relying on the business judgment rule and finding that Plaintiffs’ claims were unsupported and insufficient to undermine “the cleansing effect of the MFW conditions.”

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Don’t Sit on Your Legal Rights, Even with Your Family – Master in Chancery Recommends Dismissal of Former Member’s Claims Against His Family LLC, Based on Laches

By: Brian D. Koosed and Julia Knitter

In Robert Boyd Fitzgerald v. Fitzgerald Home Farm, LLC, Civil Action No. 2019-0410-PWG (Del. Ch. April 16, 2021), Master in Chancery Patricia W. Griffin (“Master Griffin”) recommended the Court of Chancery (the “Court”) dismiss a complaint seeking damages and reinstatement as a member of a family limited liability company, with prejudice.  Master Griffin found that the action was barred by laches because the statute of limitations for the alleged breach had run and equitable tolling did not apply. 

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Chancery Court Dismisses Disclosure and Breach Claims in LLC Financing Litigation

By: Michael J. Ross and Ryan Reilly

In Daniel Feldman et al. v. AS Roma SPV GP, LLC, et al., C.A. No. 2020-0314-PAF (Del. Ch. July 22, 2021), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) dismissed a suit brought by minority members (“Plaintiffs”) of AS Roma SPV GP, LLC (the “Company”) for breach of fiduciary duties by the managing member for breach of the Company’s limited liability company agreement (“LLC Agreement”) for failure to disclose material information, and breach of fiduciary duties by the investor committee in connection with pandemic-driven financing and recapitalization efforts.  In granting the Defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the Court emphasized the Defendants’ limited disclosure duties and the Plaintiffs’ failure to adequately plead harm.

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FACEBOOK ESCAPES SHAREHOLDER DERIVATIVE SUIT AS COURT QUESTIONS VALIDITY OF ARONSON AND FINDS PLAINTIFF FAILED TO SUPPORT CLAIMS OF DEMAND FUTILITY

By: Michael Waller and Caitlin Velasco

In United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Participating Food Industry Employers Tri-State Pension Fund v. Zuckerberg, et al., C.A. No. 2018-0671 (Del. Ch. Oct. 26, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) dismissed a derivative suit brought by the stockholders (the “Plaintiffs”) of Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) because the Plaintiffs failed to adequately plead demand futility under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1.  The derivative suit accused members of the Facebook board of directors (the “Board”) and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, of breaching their fiduciary duties of care and loyalty by pursing and approving a stock reclassification proposal that would have allowed Zuckerberg to retain voting control of Facebook while donating a significant portion of his common stock to charitable causes.  The Court discussed the two primary tests for determining demand futility in derivate actions – Aronson and Rales – and determined that demand futility turns on whether, at the time of filing the complaint, the majority of a board of directors is disinterested, independent, and capable of impartially evaluating a litigation demand to bring suit on behalf of a company.

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