Delaware Docket

Timely, brief summaries of cases handed down by the Delaware Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court.

 

WITHDRAWN LIMITED PARTNER IS NOT ALLOWED TO INSPECT BOOKS AND RECORDS

By Scott E. Waxman and Annamarie C. Larson

In Harry Greenhouse v. Polychain Fund I LP and Polychain 2030, LLC, C.A. No. 2018-0214-JRS (Del. Ch. May 29, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that a withdrawn limited partner no longer retains an equity interest in the partnership and therefore is not entitled to inspect the partnership’s books and records.

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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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Chancery Court Requires all Sellers to be Joined to a Rescission Claim Relating to Merger Agreement; Allows Unjust Enrichment Claim to Proceed

By David Forney and Mark Hammes

In Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. RSI Holdco, LLC, C.A. No. 2018-0517-KSJM (Del. Ch. May 22, 2019), the Court of Chancery held that the buyer could not seek remedy outside of the scope of a merger agreement from the sellers’ representative without bringing in all sellers as parties to the action because the representative’s authority was limited to matters relating to or arising under the four corners of that agreement.  The Court also denied the representative’s motion to dismiss the buyer’s unjust enrichment claim because the buyer properly alleged that the contract arose from sellers’ wrongdoing.

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It’s Not What You Thought You Signed That Counts: Chancery Court Rejects Plaintiffs’ Claims For Breach of Contract Plaintiffs Thought They Had Made

By: Remsen Kinne and Alidad Vakili

In Concerned Citizens of the Estates of Fairway Village, et al, v. Fairway Cap, LLC and Fairway Village Construction Inc., C.A. No. 2017-0924-JRS (Del. Ch. March 6, 2019), homeowners resident in Fairway Village, a residential planned community (“Plaintiffs”) claimed that plans and actions taken by one of the community’s developers, defendant Fairway Cap, LLC (“Fairway Cap”), to construct, own and lease townhouse condominiums in the community for use as rental apartments breached contractual provisions of Fairway Village’s governing documents. In its verdict for defendants, the Court of Chancery (the “Court”) rejected those claims, and concluded that Plaintiffs failed to prove a breach of contract and denied Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment.

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Chancery Court Enforces Privileged Communications Provision to Protect Seller Following Merger

By David Forney and Mark Hammes

In Shareholder Representative Services LLC v. RSI Holdco, LLC, C.A. No. 2018-0517-KSJM (Del Ch. May 29, 2019) the Court of Chancery held that a privileged communications provision in a merger agreement protected the pre-merger communications between the seller and the seller’s legal counsel in spite of the buyer’s insistence that the privilege had transferred in the merger or had been waived.

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CHANCERY COURT APPLIES AND AFFIRMS DELAWARE’S CORPORATE OPPORTUNITY DOCTRINE

By Annette Becker and Frank Mazzucco

In Personal Touch Holding Corp. v. Felix Glaubach, C.A. No. 11199-CB (Del. Ch. February 25, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) found that, by personally pursuing and closing a real estate acquisition in which his employer was also interested, a corporate officer and director had, under Delaware’s corporate opportunity doctrine, breached his fiduciary duty of loyalty. 

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CHANCERY COURT DISMISSES COMPLAINT, FINDING THAT THE PARTIES’ FORUM SELECTION CLAUSE IS MANDATORY AND ENFORCEABLE

By: Elisabeth Yandell McNeil, Adrienne Wimberly, and Jeremy Crites

In Germaninvestments AG v. Allomet Corp., C.A. No. 2018-0666-JRS (Del. Ch. May 23, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the action brought to determine the appropriate venue for dispute resolution, finding that the forum selection clause agreed upon by the parties in the agreement that was the subject of the dispute was both mandatory and enforceable, meaning that the action must be brought exclusively in Vienna, Austria.

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CHANCERY COURT FINDS THAT FAILURE TO EXERCISE THE APPROPRIATE DEGREE OF DILIGENCE IN BRINGING CLAIMS CAN RESULT IN THEM BEING TIME BARRED AT THE MOTION TO DISMISS STAGE

By: David Lehman and Calvin Kennedy

In Richard Forman v. CentrifyHealth Inc. et al., C.A. No. 2018-0287-JRS (Del. Ch. April 25, 2019), the Court of Chancery found that a stockholder’s failure to exercise the “degree of diligence” which fairness requires and delay in prosecuting claims was sufficient grounds to bar by laches a variety of claims; the standard used by the Court to determine the unreasonableness of the plaintiff’s delay was the analogous statute of limitations period for the respective claim. The Court also found that the plaintiff’s claims of fraud and unjust enrichment that were not barred sufficiently alleged specific misrepresentations, justifiable reliance on those misrepresentations, and the defendants’ gains resulting from the misrepresentations.

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CHANCERY COURT DISMISSES COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, HOLDING THAT REVIEW OF SALE UNDER ENTIRE FAIRNESS IS NOT WARRANTED

By: Joanna Diakos and Adam Heyd

In Aron English and Richard Peppe v. Charles K. Narang, et al., C.A. No. 2018-0221-AGB (Del. Ch. March 20, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery (the “Court”) dismissed a stockholder suit against the board members of NCI, Inc., a publicly-traded company (the “Company”), for failure to state a claims for relief in connection with allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, and against H.I.G. Capital, LLC (“HIG”) for aiding and abetting such breach during a sale of the Company to HIG.  The Court held that the controlling stockholder’s alleged need for liquidity was not sufficient to compel review of the Company sale under an “entire fairness” standard, and that the vote of stockholders approving the sale was fully informed.

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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 DECLINES TO AWARD ATTORNEYS’ FEES UNDER CORPORATE BENEFIT DOCTRINE BECAUSE PLAINTIFF OPPOSED THE BENEFIT DURING LITIGATION

By Nick I. Froio and Thomas F. Meyer

In Almond v. Glenhill Advisors LLC, C.A. No. 10477-CB (Del. Ch. April 10, 2019), the Court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys’ fees, even though Plaintiffs made a prima facie showing to support a fee award under the corporate benefit doctrine, given that Plaintiffs fought to prevent the particular benefit throughout the litigation. The Court held that it would be inequitable to reward Plaintiffs for “conferring” a benefit they fought to prevent throughout the litigation.

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VALUING A CONSULTING FIRM AFTER A KEY PERSON DEPARTURE

By Scott E. Waxman and Annamarie C. Larson

In a post-trial Memorandum Opinion, Neil Smith and NTS, LLC v. Promontory Financial Group, LLC and Promontory Growth and Innovation, LLC, C.A. No. 11255-VCG (Del. Ch. April 30, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery rejected both the asset accumulation and the discounted cash flow methods of valuation, instead adopting the buyout value the parties tentatively negotiated prior to the key person’s departure. 

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