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.Read More
By: Joanna A. Diakos and Kara Maynard Guio
In Alexandria Venture Inv. LLC et al. v. Verseau Therapeutics, Inc., C.A. No. 2020-0593-PAF (Del. Ch. Dec. 18, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) granted plaintiff stockholder’s motion seeking to compel inspection of certain books and records of Verseau Therapeutics pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”). The Court ruled that the stockholders met the low threshold necessary to establish a credible basis for believing that corporate wrongdoing had occurred. While disagreements with management decisions are insufficient to meet this burden, evidence of a conflict of interest in making management decisions is sufficient.Read More
In In Re Coty Inc. Stockholder Litigation, C.A. No. 2019-0336-AGB (Del. Ch. Aug. 17, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) denied a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss claims brought by stockholders (the “Plaintiffs”) of Coty Inc. (“Coty”) against its directors and de facto controlling stockholder, JAB Holding Company S.à.r.l. and its affiliates (“JAB”), over JAB’s 2019 partial tender offer, whereby it increased its ownership stake in Coty from 40% to 60%. The Plaintiffs alleged that JAB opportunistically timed and priced the tender offer so that it undervalued Coty and structured the tender offer in a coercive manner.Read More
In In re Swisher Hygiene, Inc., 2020 WL 3125415 (Del. Ch. June 12, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery granted Swisher Hygiene, Inc.’s (“Swisher”) Motion for Interim Distribution and rejected Honeycrest Holdings, Ltd.’s (“Honeycrest”) opposition, holding that the proposed amount of funds to be held in a reserve for a pending lawsuit between the two parties (the “Honeycrest Litigation”) was sufficient security pursuant to Section §280(c)(1) of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”).
In the Memorandum Opinion, Fortis Advisors LLC v. Shire US Holdings, Inc., No. 2018-0933-JRS (Del. Ch. Feb. 13, 2020), the Court of Chancery granted Shire US Holdings, Inc.’s motion to dismiss under the doctrine of res judicata because the breach of contract claim brought by Fortis Advisors LLC arises from the same transaction that was the subject of a prior action (the “2016 Action”) between the parties, Fortis Advisors LLC v. Shire US Holdings, Inc., No. 12147-VCS (Del. Ch. Aug. 9, 2017).Read More
In Terramar Retail Centers, LLC v. Marion #2-Seaport Trust U/A/D/ June 21, 2002, Civil Action No. 12875-VCL (Del. Ch. May 22, 2019), Terramar Retail Centers, LLC (“Terramar”), the manager and 50% member of Seaport Village Operating Company, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (the “Company”), filed an action, seeking a declaration that it may dissolve the Company and sell its assets, and that Terramar appropriately determined the allocation of the sale proceeds. The Delaware Court of Chancery held that Terramar appropriately exercised its dissolution right under the Company’s operating agreement, because the fair market value and purchase price proposed by Terramar reflected its honest opinion and Terramar did not negotiate in bad faith. The Court further held that Terramar’s waterfall determination was correct because a settlement release and the statute of limitations barred the counterclaims raised, and Terramar did not breach its contractual obligations or fiduciary duties. The Court ruled in favor of Terramar on all claims, supporting Terramar’s ability to dissolve the Company, sell its assets, and distribute the proceeds in accordance with Terramar’s allocation of the sale proceeds.Read More
In Ray Beyond Corp. v. Trimaran Fund Management, L.L.C. and The Halifax Group, LLC, Memorandum Opinion, Civil Action No. 2018-0497-KSJM, the Court of Chancery denied a motion for judgment on the pleadings brought by Ray Beyond Corp. (“Buyer”) seeking to specifically enforce a dispute resolution provision referring an escrow dispute to an independent accounting firm as an “expert, not arbitrator” and the related counterclaims. The Court granted the motion for judgement on the pleadings brought by Buyer’s parent affiliate, The Halifax Group, LLC (“Halifax”) on Trimaran Fund Management, L.L.C.’s (“Seller”) third-party claim for tortious interference for refusing to execute a joint instruction to release escrow funds.Read More
In In re Appraisal of Solera Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 12080-CB (Del. Ch. July 30, 2018), the Delaware Court of Chancery, applying an adjusted deal price analysis in a statutory appraisal proceeding, determined that the fair value of the stock of Solera Holdings, Inc. (“Solera” or the “Company”) at the time of its March 2016 going-private merger transaction was $53.95 per share–the deal price less estimated synergies. The Court reached this conclusion after thoroughly examining and ultimately rejecting the use of (a) the discounted cash flow (“DCF”) analysis, proposed by seven investment funds that were former stockholders of Solera (the “Petitioners”) and the (b) the unaffected market price analysis, proposed by Solera in supplemental briefing in response to the use of such analysis in Verition Partners Master Fund Ltd. v. Aruba Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 11448-VCL (Del. Ch. May 21, 2018). Read More
In Steinberg on behalf of Hortonworks, Inc. v. Bearden, C.A. No. 2017-0286-AGB (Del. Ch. May 30, 2018), the Delaware Court of Chancery granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the stockholder plaintiff’s derivative claims for breach of fiduciary duties under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, because the plaintiff failed to make a pre-suit demand or demonstrate that doing so would be futile. The Court found that the plaintiff failed to plead particularized facts sufficient to raise reasonable doubt that a majority of the directors on the Hortonworks, Inc. board could have exercised their independent and disinterested business judgment in responding to a pre-suit demand. Read More
In CBS Corporation, et al. v. National Amusements, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 2018-0342-AGB, the Court of Chancery denied a motion for temporary retraining order brought by CBS Corporation (“CBS”) and five independent directors of CBS (the “Plaintiffs”) to restrain controlling shareholders, Shari Redstone, her father Sumner Redstone, National Amusements, Inc. (“NAI”), NAI Entertainment Holdings LLC, and the Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Trust (the “Defendants”) from taking certain actions that would interfere with the governance of CBS or other proposed actions of the board of directors of CBS. The Court found that there was no precedent for the type of relief requested by Plaintiff and that no extraordinary circumstances existed to warrant the grant of such relief. Read More
In Sarissa Capital Domestic Fund LP, et al. v. Innoviva, Inc., C.A. No. 2017-0309-JRS (Del. Ch. Dec. 8, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled in favor of dissident stockholder plaintiffs, Sarissa Capital Domestic Fund LP, et al. (“Sarissa”) of Innoviva, Inc. (“Innoviva”), concluding that Sarissa and Innoviva entered into a binding, oral settlement agreement to resolve a proxy contest prior to Innoviva’s 2017 annual stockholder meeting and specific performance of the settlement agreement was warranted. Read More
In Chester Cty. Emp. Ret. Fund v. New Residential Inv. Corp., C.A. No. 11058-VCMR (Del. Ch. Oct. 6, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the stockholder plaintiff’s direct and derivative claims for breach of fiduciary duties under the Court of Chancery Rules 23.1 and 12(b)(6), because the plaintiff failed to make a pre-suit demand or demonstrate that doing so would be futile. The Court found that although the facts alleged gave rise to a derivative claim, the plaintiff failed to make a pre-suit demand or plead particularized facts sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt that a majority of the directors on the New Residential Corp. (“New Residential”) board could have exercised their independent and disinterested business judgment in responding to a demand.