Author: Chris Fry

Delaware Court of Chancery holds that directors on a special committee are interested in a going-private merger when the merger effectively extinguishes their personal liability from viable derivative litigation

By: Scott E. Waxman and Chris Fry

In Re AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, No. 2018-0396AGB (Del. Ch. 2020), George Karfunkel, Leah Karfunkel, and Barry Zyskind, the controlling stockholders of AmTrust Inc. (respectively, the “Controlling Stockholders” and “AmTrust”), teamed up with private equity firm, Stone Point Capital LLC (“Stone Point”), to take AmTrust private through a squeeze-out merger (the “Merger”), which closed in November 2018. Former stockholders (the “Plaintiffs”) challenged the Merger, asserting several claims for breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting against the Controlling Stockholders, Stone Point, and AmTrust’s Board of Directors (the “Board”), among other participants in the Merger (collectively, the “Defendants”). DeCarlo, Gulkowitz, Fisch, and Rivera sat on both the Board and the special committee (the “Special Committee”), which negotiated the Merger and made recommendations to the Board regarding the same. The Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) upheld the claims against the Board finding that the Controlling Stockholders and members of the Special Committee, except Rivera, were, among other issues, interested in the transaction, and therefore the Merger failed to comply with the procedures outlined in controlling precedent to obtain the benefit of a business judgment review, subjecting the Merger to the entire fairness standard of review. 

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out of the fire? the delaware court of chancery dismisses an action for lack of personal jurisdiction

By: Scott E. Waxman and Chris Fry

In Extell DV LLC v. Van A. Hemeyer and Blue Ledge Resort LLC, No. 2019-0683-SG (Del. Ch. 2020), Extell DV LLC, as majority equity-holder on behalf of three subsidiaries (respectively, the “Plaintiff” and the “Subsidiaries” and together, the “Plaintiffs”), brought suit alleging that the minority equity-holder in the Subsidiaries, Blue Ledge Resort LLC, and its principal, Van Hemeyer (respectively, “Blue Ledge” and “Hemeyer” and together, the “Defendants”) usurped a business opportunity of the Subsidiaries by seeking to purchase real property (the “Property”) in violation of the Subsidiaries’ limited liability company agreements (collectively, the “LLC Agreements”).

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Out of the money: breach of fiduciary duty claim survives motion to dismiss when the board approved an asset sale that left no consideration for the common unitholders

By: Scott E. Waxman and Chris Fry

In JJS, Ltd., et al., v. Steelpoint CP Holdings, LLC, et al., No. 2019-0072-KSJM (Del. Ch. 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) held that John Sarkisian, individually and on behalf of JJS, Ltd. and PPS Investors Ltd., L.P. (together, the “Plaintiffs”) successfully stated a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against a venture capital fund and its appointed board members in approving a transaction for the asset sale of Pro Performance Sports, LLC (the “Company”) where the common unitholders receive no compensation, the board members are under common ownership or employment with the venture capital fund, and one board member received an extraordinary severance package. The Court dismissed the Plaintiffs’ remaining claims, which turned on the interpretation of the voting rights provision of the limited liability company (“LLC”) agreement of the Company, finding that the operative language was not ambiguous and that a careful reading of the agreement would have given Plaintiffs notice of the voting rights mechanics. 

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Not quite instantaneous, Holmesian “Bad Men” can win by knowing the law: Plaintiffs who tried to preserve direct and derivative claims in a settlement agreement failed to realize that they had already bargained them away

By: Scott E. Waxman and Chris Fry

In Urdan v. WR Capital Partners, LLC, C.A. No. 2018-0343-JTL (Del. Ch. 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) held that Urban and Woodward (the “Plaintiffs”) lost the ability to assert their derivative and direct claims by failing to properly preserve their claims in the stock repurchase agreements and settlement agreement among the Plaintiffs, Energy Efficient Equity, Inc. (the “Company”), and the private equity group that essentially pushed the Plaintiffs out of the Company, WR Capital Partners, LLC, et al., (the “PE Firm”).  The Court dismissed the Plaintiffs’ remaining claims for fraud, as the Plaintiffs could not reasonably rely on puffery, and unjust enrichment, as this is more properly a derivative claim dismissed with the direct and derivative claims above.

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