Author: Rachel Sanders

COURT OF CHANCERY DECIDES MOTIONS TO DISMISS, MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS WHEN PLAINTIFF SUES STOCKHOLDERS AND DIRECTORS OF THE COMPANY HE FOUNDED

By:  David L. Forney and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In Craig T. Bouchard v. Braidy Industries, Inc., et al., Case No. 2020-0097-KSJM (Del. Ch. Apr. 28, 2020), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed various motions filed by both Plaintiff and Defendants, including Defendants’ motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim, Plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings regarding an individual defendant’s defense, and Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment.  Plaintiff Craig Bouchard filed suit against Defendants claiming breach of contract regarding a voting agreement to which Bouchard and each of Defendants are a party.  The Court granted the motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction over Defendants.  Further, the Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings regarding the defense of unclean hands asserted by Defendant Braidy Industries, Inc.  Lastly, the Court denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on his breach of contract claim, finding that the factual records needed further development. 

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COURT OF CHANCERY DENIES ITALIAN CITIZEN’S MOTION TO DISMISS

By:  Scott E. Waxman and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In AlixPartners, LLP et al. v. Giacomo Mori, Case No. 2019-0392-KSJM (Del. Ch. Nov. 26, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed Defendant Giacomo Mori’s motion to dismiss for (1) lack of subject matter jurisdiction and standing, (2) lack of personal jurisdiction, (3) improper venue, and (4) failure to state a claim. Defendant primarily contended that two foreign laws divested the Court of subject matter jurisdiction and that the forum selection clauses contained in particular agreements to which he was a party were unenforceable.  The Court rejected Defendant’s contentions finding that the claims against Defendant were transitory in nature and did not divest the Court of subject matter jurisdiction, the forum selection clauses were sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over Defendant, and that Plaintiffs’ compliant adequately stated numerous claims. In denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss, however, the Court stayed certain counts against Defendant which arose solely from his employment agreement with one of the Plaintiffs on the basis of the doctrine of forum non conveniens.

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COURT OF CHANCERY FIND PROVISIONS OF MERGER AGREEMENT AMBIGUOUS AND DENIES TELECOMMUNICATIONS GIANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS

By: Scott E. Waxman and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In Charles F. Dolan v. Altice USA, Inc. et al., Case No. 2018-0651-JRS (Del. Ch. June 27, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery address Defendants’ 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss filed in response to the Plaintiff’s complaint containing the following six causes of action: (i) breach of contract, (ii) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (iii) equitable fraud, (iv) promissory estoppel, (v) negligent misrepresentation, and (vi) declaratory relief. Defendants include telecommunications and media companies Altice USA, Inc. and Altice Europe N.V. (collectively, “Altice”). Additionally, Plaintiffs named as nominal defendants Cablevision Systems Corporation (“Cablevision”) and News 12 Networks, LLC (“News12”). Plaintiffs include members of the Dolan family, the controlling shareholders of Cablevision and News12 prior to the sale of those companies to Altice. The Court denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss on the Dolan family’s claims for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and declaratory relief and granted the motion pertaining to the claims for breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, equitable fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. (1)

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COURT OF CHANCERY FINDS NO SECTION 220 ISSUE WHERE STOCKHOLDER’S AND ITS COUNSELS’ PURPOSES FOR DEMAND ALIGN

By: Megan A. Wotherspoon and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In Inter-Local Pension Fund GCC/IBT v. Calgon Carbon Corp., C.A. No. 2017-0910-MTZ (Del. Ch. Jan. 25, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery enforced an institutional stockholder’s demand for books and records under Title 8, Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“Section 220”). The Court found that the stockholder’s affidavit affirming the demand in substantially final form, although not in exact final form, did not violate Section 220’s “under oath” requirements where the only change between the versions was the addition of a signature and the date. The Court also found that the stockholder’s demand was not lawyer-driven under Wilkinson v. A. Schulman, Inc., C.A. No. 2017-0138-VCL (Del. Ch. Nov. 13, 2017), where the stockholder’s goals of the demand and the purposes stated in the lawyer-drafted demand were not fundamentally misaligned, even where the stockholder’s representative could not articulate all the legal nuances of such purposes in deposition testimony.

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COURT OF CHANCERY DENIES APPLICATION FOR CERTIFICATION OF INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL AFTER RULING THAT JUDICIAL DISSOLUTION OF THE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY IS WARRANTED

By: Scott Waxman and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In Acela Investments LLC v. Raymond DiFalco, Case No. 2018-0558-AGB (Del. Ch. June 28, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed an application for certification of an interlocutory appeal of the Court’s decision in the underlying case (the “Memorandum Opinion”) and a motion for stay pending appeal.

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Chancery Court Denies Cross-Motions for Partial Summary Judgment Due to Ambiguities in Contract Language of LLC Agreement Governing Joint Venture

By Scott E. Waxman and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In AM General Holdings LLC v. The Renco Group, Inc., C.A. No. 7639-VCS  and The Renco Group, Inc. v. MacAndrews AMG Holdings LLC, C.A. No. 7668-VCS (Del. Ch. May 17, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery denied cross-motions for partial summary judgment after reviewing the LLC Agreement of AM General Holdings LLC, which governs the joint venture relationship between Plaintiff, The Renco Group, Inc. (“Renco”), and Defendant, MacAndrews AMG Holdings LLC (“MacAndrews”), both members of AM General Holdings LLC (the “Company”).  Renco brought suit against MacAndrews alleging that MacAndrews, the managing member of the Company, caused the Company to distribute $72.8 million to MacAndrews in breach of the Company’s LLC Agreement.  Renco contended that, according to the LLC Agreement, the $72.8 million should have been distributed to Renco instead.  Both parties pointed to several provisions of the LLC Agreement governing the distribution at issue, and both parties contended that these provisions were clear and unambiguous.  After reviewing the provisions, however, the Court determined that the provisions were, in fact, ambiguous and thus, the case could not be disposed of through summary judgment proceedings.

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CHANCERY COURT ISSUES DECLARATORY JUDGMENT REGARDING BOARD AND MEMBER ACTIONS TAKEN IN CONTRAVENTION OF CORPORATION’S BYLAWS

By: Susan A. Apel & Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In Rainbow Mountain, Inc. v. Terry Begeman, C.A. No. 10221-VCMR (Del. Ch. March 23, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery issued a declaratory judgment on cross-motions for summary judgment regarding whether pro se defendant, Terry Begeman, was properly removed as a director, member, and officer of plaintiff nonstock corporation Rainbow Mountain, Inc. (“Rainbow Mountain” or the “corporation”).  Based on uncontroverted facts, the Court determined that Terry[1] had been properly removed as Secretary, but retained his position as Senior Vice-President, director and member.  Under the bylaws, as a “Regular Member” of Rainbow Mountain, Terry had the right to occupy the corporation’s land.

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Chancery Court Interprets Contractual Provisions, the Elimination of Fiduciary Duties and Standard to be Applied for Self-Dealing Transactions under LLC Agreement

By Nicholas I. Froio and Rachel Cheasty Sanders

In CelestialRX Investments, LLC and Krittika Life Sciences, LLC v. Krivulka, et al., C.A. No. 11733-VCG (Del. Ch. Jan. 31, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed two preliminary issues before it on motions for partial summary judgment filed by the various defendants.  The plaintiffs include CelestialRX Investments, LLC (“CelestialRX”), one of three members of the Delaware limited liability company Akrimax Pharmaceuticals, LLC (“Akrimax”).  The defendants include Leonard Mazur and Joseph J. Krivulka (“Krivulka”), the two other members of Akrimax, along with various entities Krivulka controls or in which he has invested.  These entities entered into a number of transactions with Akrimax, these transactions being at the heart of this dispute.  The Court first considered whether a release agreement dated July 1, 2013 (“Release Agreement”) barred CelestialRX from bringing causes of actions against the defendants which occurred prior to the release.  After applying rules of contract interpretation, the Court, in dismissing the motion for partial summary judgment, held that the plaintiff was not a “Releasing Party” as defined in the Release Agreement and thus had not released any claims existing as of July 1, 2013.  The Court next considered the extent to which the LLC Agreement of Akrimax and its July 1, 2013 amendment (“Amendment No. 7”) limited or modified fiduciary duties of the members, directors or managers of Akrimax, and what standard of care applied under the LLC Agreement in the context of conflicted transactions.

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