Topic: Uncategorized

Termination Fee is Not Exclusive Remedy for Breach of No-Shop

By Sara Kirkpatrick and Lisa Stark

On September 9, 2019, the Delaware Court of Chancery held that Genuine Parts Company (“GPC”) adequately pled facts that supported a pleading stage inference that Essendant Inc. breached its merger agreement with GPC by terminating the agreement to pursue a transaction with non-party Sycamore Partners (“Sycamore”) pursuant to a superior proposal termination right. The Court further found that GPC adequately pled that its acceptance of a termination fee from Essendant did not preclude GPC from pursuing breach of contract claims against Essendant for its alleged breaches of the parties’ merger agreement.

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COURT OF CHANCERY APPLIES POLITICAL QUESTION DOCTRINE IN DEFERRING TO U.S. PRESIDENT’S RECOGNITION OF VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT AND HOLDS THAT EXTRA-TERRITORIAL EFFECTS DO NOT PRECLUDE APPLICATION OF THE ACT OF STATE DOCTRINE

By: CJ Voss and Teresa Teng

In Jiménez v. Palacios et al., C.A. No. 2019-0490-KSJM (Del. Ch. Aug. 2, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery accepted as binding the U.S. President’s recognition of a foreign government and upheld the validity of that government’s appointments to the board of directors of a state-owned oil company. In turn, the state-owned oil company could validly appoint the board of directors of its Delaware subsidiaries. However, the court determined that the consents appointing the boards of directors of the Delaware subsidiaries were not appropriately considered on a motion for judgment on the pleadings and granted the plaintiffs the opportunity to identify facts in dispute foreclosing summary judgment in favor of the defendants. 

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earn-out provision of merger agreement requires extrinsic evidence to aid interpretation

By Scott E. Waxman and Pouya D. Ahmadi

In Western Standard, LLC, v. SourceHOV Holdings, Inc. and Pangea Acquisitions, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0280-JRS (Del. Ch. July 24, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) refused to the grant SourceHOV Holdings, Inc. (“SourceHOV”) and Pangea Acquisitions, Inc.’s (“Pangea”) motion to dismiss, holding that more extrinsic evidence was needed for the Court to be able to interpret the terms of the merger agreement (the “Merger Agreement”) among Pangea and BancTec, Inc. (“BancTec”) and decide whether there was a valid breach of a contract claim.

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In a $1.365 Billion Merger, the Target Company “Blindsided” the Proposed Buyer by Terminating the Merger Agreement and the Court Upheld the Termination; Court Requests Further Briefing re the $126.5 Million Reverse Termination Fee

By: Kevin Stichter and Tami Mack

In Vintage Rodeo Parent, LLC et al. v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0927-SG (Del. Ch. March 14, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) held that the target company Rent-A-Center, Inc. (“Rent-A-Center”) validly exercised its right to terminate the $1.365 billion merger under the merger agreement (the “Merger Agreement”) among Rent-A-Center and the proposed buyer Vintage Capital Management, LLC and certain affiliates (collectively, “Vintage”), despite Vintage’s claims that the term of the Merger Agreement had already been extended or, alternatively, that Rent-A-Center had not validly terminated.

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Chancery Court Interprets the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

By: Scott E. Waxman and Stephanie S. Liu

In AlixPartners, LLP v. Benichou, (C.A. No. 2018-0600-KSJM (Del. Ch. May 10, 2019)), the Court of Chancery decided, as a matter of first impression, that the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) narrowly provides a cause of action in Delaware for unauthorized computer access or unauthorized access to information; it does not cover incidents involving misuse of information that was obtained through authorized access.

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Court to Sellers: Stockholder Notice Rights Matter

By Scott Waxman and Nadia Brooks

In Mehta v. Mobile Posse, Inc., six causes of action were before the Delaware Court of Chancery in Plaintiff’s complaint alleging inadequate stockholder notice and breach of directors’ fiduciary duty of disclosure regarding the merger of Mobile Posse. The defendants, Mobile Posse and its board, asserted motions for judgments on the pleadings for all counts, arguing they were entitled to the judgments because the violations were remedied by the supplemental notice they issued. The Court denied all but one of defendants’ motions, finding numerous deficiencies in the notice process and finding that the merger was not entirely fair.

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Court of Chancery Grants Summary Judgment For Dissolution of Limited Liability Company Where Two Minority Members Failed To Purchase The Majority Member’s Limited Liability Interest, As Required By The Operating Agreement

By: Scott Waxman and Caitlin Velasco

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.

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CONTRACTUAL AMBIGUITIES FAVOR THE NON-MOVING PARTY AT MOTION TO DISMISS STAGE

By: Scott Waxman and Rich Minice

In Coyne v. Fusion Healthworks, LLC Civil Action No. 2018-0011-MTZ (Del. Ch. April 30, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery denied a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (the “Motion”) filed by Fusion Healthworks, LLC (the “LLC”), James Sheehan with his personal medical practice, and Andrew Lietzke, with his personal medical practice (collectively, the “Defendants”). In denying the Motion, the court reiterated the standing principal that, when presented with a contractual ambiguity, dismissal at the motion to dismiss stage is only appropriate “if the defendants’ interpretation [of the ambiguity] is the only reasonable construction as a matter of law.” Coyne highlights the critical nature of competent drafting of LLC Agreements.

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Court of Chancery Sides with Papa John’s Founder on Books and Records Inspection Demand

By Scott Waxman and Will Grossenbacher

John Schnatter’s falling-out with Papa John’s, the company he founded in the back of his father’s bar in Louisville, Kentucky, has been highly publicized since the dispute began in late 2017. Now, the Delaware Court of Chancery has waded into the fray.  In John Schnatter v. Papa John’s International, Inc., C.A. No. 2018-0542-AGB (Del. Ch. Jan. 15, 2019), the Court ruled in favor of Schnatter, granting his demand to inspect four categories of the Company’s books and records, subject to certain limitations and exclusions.

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Stockholder Makes Demand on United Airlines and Encounters Turbulence

By: Joanna Diakos and Tom Sperber

In City of Tamarac Firefighters’ Pension Trust Fund v. Corvi, et. al, C.A. No. 2017-0341-KSJM, the Delaware Chancery Court issued a Memorandum Opinion granting a motion to dismiss under Chancery Rule 23.1 for failing to prove that pre-litigation demand of the Board was wrongfully refused. The City of Tamarac Firefighters’ Pension Trust Fund (“Plaintiff”), a stockholder of United Continental Holdings, Inc., the owner and operator of United Airlines (collectively, “United”), brought derivative claims against United and its board of directors (the “Board”) (collectively with United, “Defendants”) demanding either a claw-back of an allegedly excessive separation compensation award or the rescission of the separation agreement altogether. The Court found that Plaintiff failed to plead particularized facts raising a reasonable doubt that Defendants acted with due care and in good faith in rejecting Plaintiff’s demand.

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IN REJECTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR DISMISSAL, CHANCERY COURT FINDS THAT INDIVIDUAL FIDUCIARY MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR TRADES THAT AN ASSOCIATED ENTITY OR FUND MAKES

By: Scott E. Waxman and Adrienne Wimberly

In the consolidated stockholder derivative litigation, In re Fitbit, Inc., CA No. 2017-0402-JRS (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2018), the Delaware Court of Chancery denied the Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ insider trading and breach of fiduciary duty claims. The claims stem from alleged insider knowledge of members of Fitbit’s Board of Directors (the Board) and chief financial officer that Fitbit’s PurePulse™ technology was not as accurate as the company claimed. Plaintiffs alleged that members of the Board structured the company’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) and Secondary Offering (together, “the Offerings”) to benefit Fitbit insiders and voted to waive employee lock-up agreements, thereby allowing those insiders, to prematurely sell stock in the Secondary Offering. As a result of their sales, the alleged insiders sold about 6.2 million shares for over $115 million in the IPO and about 9.62 million shares for over $270 million in the Secondary Offering.

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CHANCERY COURT DENIES MOTION TO PERFECT SERVICE FOR SERVICE ON DISSOLVED LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

By: Scott Waxman and Greyson Blue

In Tratado de Libre Commercio, LLC v. Splitcast Technology, LLC, C.A. No. 2019-0014-JRS (Del. Ch. Mar. 6, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery examined the requirements for perfecting service upon a dissolved limited liability company (“LLC”). In ruling that Tratado de Libre Commercio, LLC (“Tratado”) had failed to perfect service of process on a dissolved entity, Splitcast Technology LLC (“Splitcast”), the Court highlighted its broad authority to establish service of process requirements under Court of Chancery Rule 4(d)(7) (“Rule 4(d)(7)”) in claims against defunct entities. The Court’s decision both illustrates the scope of its authority and confirms its willingness to hold that court-mandated standards for delivering service upon defunct corporations also apply in the context of defunct LLCs.

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