Justia Delaware Court of Chancery Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Corporate Compliance
Kahn v. Stern
Plaintiffs alleged insider-trading side deals in connection with the sale of a small aerospace manufacturing company, Kreisler, and insufficient disclosure to stockholders regarding the sales process. Before the sale, Kreisler was offered to dozens of potential acquirers. Several bidders emerged. A fairness opinion was rendered and a special committee ultimately recommended the sale. The transaction was approved by written consent of a majority of the shares outstanding. A block of shares of just over 50 percent executed a stockholder support agreement providing for approval of the transaction, so there was no stockholder vote. An Information Statement was provided to stockholders to permit them to decide whether to seek appraisal. A majority of Kreisler’s board of directors are independent and disinterested, and its charter contains an exculpation provision. The Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed the complaint, finding that even accepting the well-pled allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in the Plaintiff’s favor, the Complaint fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. View "Kahn v. Stern" on Justia Law
Henry v. Phixios Holdings, Inc.
The Delaware Court of Chancery held that, under 8 Del. C. 202, in order for a stockholder to be bound by stock transfer restrictions that are not "noted conspicuously on the certificate or certificates representing the security," he must have actual knowledge of the restrictions before he acquires the stock. If the stockholder does not have actual knowledge of the stock transfer restrictions at the time he acquires the stock, he can become bound by the stock transfer restrictions after the acquisition of the stock only if he affirmatively assents to the restrictions, either by voting to approve the restrictions or by agreeing to the restrictions. In this case, plaintiff did not have actual knowledge of the restrictions prior to acquiring his stock and the company must produce the requested documents as they are necessary to effectuate the stockholder's stated purpose. View "Henry v. Phixios Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Dore v. Sweports Ltd.
The three underlying legal actions, involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, stock valuation, bankruptcy, and appeals, took place in Illinois. Plaintiffs, including attorneys involved in the underlying actions, sought to indemnification in post-trial proceedings. Defendant is a Delaware corporation with offices in Illinois. The Delaware Court of Chancery awarded plaintiffs $79,540.14 for pursuing the post-trial action and $241,492.50 for the Illinois proceedings, plus 20% of the expenses they incurred enforcing their indemnification right through this proceeding. The court cited the corporations’ bylaws, under which the plaintiffs are entitled to mandatory if indemnification would be permitted under the Delaware General Corporation Law and Section 145(a) of that law. View "Dore v. Sweports Ltd." on Justia Law
CelestialRX Investments, LLC.v. Krivulka
A 16-count complaint alleged conspiracy to funnel valuable pharmaceutical interests away from an entity in which the Plaintiff, CelestialRX, LLC, is a member. The claims include allegedly improper self-dealing by two members of a three-member LLC. On motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, the Delaware Chancery Court rejected a claim that plaintiffs had contractually released certain claims and analyzed the LLC agreement to conclude that good faith—a subjective standard, applies separately to both the transaction and to the conflicted party’s analysis of whether it is “fair and reasonable,” but must be read consistently with the purpose of specific standards, which is to permit conflicted transactions in certain circumstances. The court urged the parties to mediate the dispute. View "CelestialRX Investments, LLC.v. Krivulka" on Justia Law
In Re Merge Healthcare Inc. Stockholder Litigation
IBM's proposed purchase of Merge Healthcare was supported by a vote of close to 80% of Merge stockholders. Former Merge stockholders sought post-closing damages against the company’s directors for what they alleged was an improper sale process. Merge did not have an exculpation clause in its corporate charter, so its directors have potential liability for acts violating their duty of care, in the context of an allegedly less-than-rigorous sales process. The Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed. Demonstrating such a violation of the duty of care is not trivial: it requires a demonstration of gross negligence, but it is less formidable than showing disloyalty. Regardless of that standard, the uncoerced vote of a majority of disinterested shares in favor of the merger cleansed any such violations, raising the presumption that the directors acted within their proper business judgment. View "In Re Merge Healthcare Inc. Stockholder Litigation" on Justia Law
Costantini, et al. v. Swiss Farm Stores Acquisition LLC
Plaintiffs Costantini, Jr. and Kahn sought indemnification for their fees and costs in underlying litigation involving Swiss Farm. The court concluded that Costantini was entitled to indemnification under Article 14 of the Operating Agreement because he was a manager of Swiss Farm and was sued by Swiss Farm in that capacity and prevailed. However, the court concluded that, although Kahn was sued for breach of fiduciary duty and prevailed, he was not a member of the Board of Managers, an officer, an employee or an agent of the company and, therefore, was not entitled to indemnification under the Operating Agreement. Accordingly, the court granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings. View "Costantini, et al. v. Swiss Farm Stores Acquisition LLC" on Justia Law
In re Info. Mgmt. Servs., Inc. Derivative Litigation
Trusts that owned fifty percent of the common stock of nominal defendant IMS alleged that two of the company's three most senior officers mismanaged the company in breach of their fiduciary duties. Trusts moved to compel IMS to produce the senior officers' work email accounts. The senior officers asserted the attorney-client privilege but did not invoke the work product doctrine. The court concluded that the In re Asia Global Crossing, Ltd. factors weighed in favor of production, absent a statutory override that could alter the common law result. Because IMS conducted its business in Maryland, the federal government and the State of Maryland were the sovereigns whose laws IMS must follow when dealing with its employees' email. The Federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510 et seq.; the Federal Store Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701; the Maryland Wiretap Act, Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-401 to 10-414; and the Maryland Stored Communications Act, Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. 10-4A-01 to 10-4A-08, did not change the common law privilege analysis. Accordingly, the court granted the motion to compel. View "In re Info. Mgmt. Servs., Inc. Derivative Litigation" on Justia Law
In re: China Automotive Systems Inc. Derivative Litigation
Plaintiffs brought a derivative action on behalf of China Automotive alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, insider trading, and unjust enrichment against five members of China Automotive's Board. The court concluded that because plaintiffs have not alleged particularized facts showing that any of Defendants Richardson, Tung, or Xu were interested, not independent, or facing a substantial threat of personal liability at the time the derivative Complaint was filed, these three directors were entitled to consider demand. Therefore, under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, demand was not excused. The court rejected plaintiffs' remaining claims under Rule 23.1 and dismissed as to plaintiffs with prejudice. View "In re: China Automotive Systems Inc. Derivative Litigation" on Justia Law
Florida R&D Fund Investors, LLC v. Florida BOCA/Deerfield R&D Investors, LLC, et al.
R&D, a member of the Joint Venture, brought a books and records action under 6 Del. C. 18-305 and the Joint Venture's limited liability company agreement, seeking two categories of books and records that were in the possession and control of Investment Services. At issue was whether the court had jurisdiction over Investment Services, an Indiana corporation, under either Delaware's long-arm statute or its Limited Liability Company Act, 6 Del. C. ch. 18. The court concluded that R&D had not met its burden of making a prima facie showing of a statutory basis for personal jurisdiction over Investment Services under either Delaware's long-arm statute or Section 18-109 of the LLC Act. Therefore, R&D's claim against Investment Services must be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court also concluded that the court did have jurisdiction over HDG Properties because of its contractual consent; R&D failed to allege any "reasonably conceivable" collection of facts upon which it could prevail against other HDG Defendants; and R&D's inspection claims against these HDG Defendants must be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). Accordingly, the motion to dismiss was granted as to all of the HDG Defendants. View "Florida R&D Fund Investors, LLC v. Florida BOCA/Deerfield R&D Investors, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
Tang Capital Partners LP, v. Norton
Plaintiffs are holders of Savient’s 4.75% convertible senior notes due in 2018, which are unsecured and subject to the terms of an indenture. Collectively, Plaintiffs own a face value of $48,709,000, approximately 40% of the outstanding Notes. Defendants are members of Savient’s board of directors USBNA serves as trustee for the Indenture governing the Notes. Following dismal sales of its new drug, KRYSTEXXA, Savient’s Board approved a financing transaction to exchange some existing unsecured Notes for new senior secured notes with a later maturity date. Through the Exchange, Savient exchanged around $108 million in Notes, raised around $44 million in new capital, and issued additional SSDNs with a face value of approximately $63 million. Like the Notes, the SSDNs are subject to an indenture for which USBNA serves as trustee. Plaintiffs sought a declaration that Savient was insolvent and brought derivative claims alleging waste and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the Exchange Transaction; alleged breach of fiduciary duty and waste claims in connection with the Board’s approval of retention awards for certain Savient executives. The chancellor dismissed the receivership claim for lack of standing and granted a declaration that an Event of Default has not occurred.View "Tang Capital Partners LP, v. Norton" on Justia Law