By Scott Waxman and Claire White
In De Vries v. Del Mar, L.L.C., two minority limited liability company members of Del Mar, L.L.C. (the “Company”) sought to compel disclosure of privileged information relating to the settlement of a $3.0 million loan to the Company, the transfer of the Company’s primary asset to the lender in post-settlement negotiations, and potential mismanagement and self-dealing by the managing member of the Company, Baja Management, LLC (“Baja”), and its president and sole managing member, Kenneth Jowdy (“Jowdy”). The Court held that the plaintiffs demonstrated sufficient “good cause” to compel inspection of privileged books and records of the Company related to the post-settlement events under the Garner doctrine of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, adopted by the Delaware Supreme Court in Wal-Mart Stores v. Indiana Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund IBEW, No. 614, 2013 (Del. July 23, 20
The Company was formed for the principal purpose of owning and developing a hotel, golf course and residential properties in Baja California, Mexico, and its main asset consisted of 9,238 acres of undeveloped land, valued at $68.9 million (the “Property”). Baja, the Company’s majority and managing member, owned 93% of the Company’s membership interests, and the remaining interests were held by various minority members who invested $500,000 each in exchange for a 0.5% interest in a private placement round in 2005. The Company obtained a secured loan of $3.0 million from a “hard money” lender in 2006, but failed to raise substantial investment funds for full development of the Property. Jowdy, the sole managing member of Baja, personally guaranteed the loan. In 2010, the Company defaulted on the loan, and the Company and Jowdy executed confessions of judgment for the full amount of the loan (and interest). Following settlement negotiations, and the Company’s inability to satisfy the judgments with further financing, the Company agreed to transfer the Property to the lender in lieu of the lender recording the judgments against the Company and Jowdy.