Justia Delaware Court of Chancery Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Securities Law
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
United BioSource LLC v. Bracket Holding Corp.
United BioSource LLC (UBC) and Bracket Holding Corp. entered into a securities purchase agreement (SPA) pursuant to which Bracket purchased all equity interests and ownership interests in three subsidiaries of UBC, including P-Star Acquisition Co. Section 2.6(e) of the SPA governed the handling of certain tax refunds relating to pre-closing periods that may be received after the transaction’s closing. UBC later filed this complaint asserting a claim for specific performance. The complaint asserted that Bracket breached section 2.6(e) of the SPA by failing to forward a Pennsylvania tax refund to UBC within fifteen days of P-Star’s receipt of the refund. The Court of Chancery granted UBC’s motion for summary judgment seeking an order requiring Bracket to immediately forward the tax refund to UBC, holding that UBC clearly established that Bracket breached section 2.6 of the EPA based on undisputed facts, and Bracket’s affirmative defenses failed as a matter of law. View "United BioSource LLC v. Bracket Holding Corp." on Justia Law
FdG Logistics LLC v. A&R Logistics Holdings, Inc.
In 2012, a private equity firm purchased a trucking company now owned by Buyer through a merger transaction. Plaintiff initiated this action as the representative of the selling securityholders (Securityholders) to recover a preclosing tax refund. Buyer, in response, asserted several counterclaims. Securityholders sought to dismiss Buyer’s counterclaims. The Court of Chancery (1) denied Securityholders’ motion to dismiss Buyer’s common law fraud claim insofar as that claim asserted fraud based on extra-contractual statements made to Buyer before it entered the merger agreement, as Buyer was not prevented from asserting a claim for fraud based on representations outside the four corners of the merger agreement; (2) granted Securityholders’ motion to dismiss Buyer’s claim under the Delaware Securities Act and Buyer’s claim of unilateral mistake, as these claims failed to state a claim for relief; and (3) granted Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment concerning the tax refund claim, as Buyer had no defense to Plaintiff’s motion. View "FdG Logistics LLC v. A&R Logistics Holdings, Inc." 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
Frank David Seinfeld v. Donald W. Slager, et al.
A stockholder of Republic, a Delaware corporation that engages in waste hauling and waste disposal, filed a derivative suit based on Republic’s compensation decisions: that a payment to O’Connor was made without consideration and was, therefore, wasteful; that an incentive payment to O’Connor was wasteful because it was not tax-deductible and rendered Republic’s compensation plan not tax-deductible; that Directors paid themselves excessive compensation; that Directors breached their duty of loyalty and wasted corporate assets by awarding a certain type of stock option; and that Directors improperly awarded employee bonuses because the requirements of the bonus scheme under which the bonuses were awarded were not met. The chancellor dismissed all but the claim arising from the board’s granting itself stock awards.View "Frank David Seinfeld v. Donald W. Slager, et al." on Justia Law
Fletcher Int’l, Ltd. v. ION Geophysical Corp., et al.
In these cross-motions for partial summary judgment, at issue was whether ION violated the rights of its preferred stockholder, Fletcher, by causing a wholly-owned ION subsidiary to issue certain promissory notes without Fletcher's approval in connection with ION's purchase of a business. The court agreed with the parties that to determine whether the notes were securities was an issue appropriate for summary judgment. On the merits, however, the court held that it did not agree with ION's argument that all notes issued as compensation to a seller of a business by the buyer of that business were not securities. The court concluded that two of the promissory notes issued to the business seller by the ION subsidiary were not securities because they were most sensibly characterized as short-term commercial bridge financing to facilitate the closing of the acquisition transaction. But the court concluded that the third note was a security. Accordingly, the court found that Fletcher's consent rights under the Certificates were not breached by the issuance of the first two notes, but were breached when ION caused its subsidiary to issue the third note.View "Fletcher Int'l, Ltd. v. ION Geophysical Corp., et al." on Justia Law
Paron Capital Mgmt., LLC, et al. v. Crombie
This action involved claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary against an individual defendant, a former investment professional accused of having committed a massive fraud related to a quantitatively-based trading program that he allegedly developed to trade futures contracts. Plaintiffs, as a result of their association with defendant and Paron, the firm they founded with defendant, claimed that they have been stigmatized and thus face dismal prospects of finding employment in the financial services industry. The court found that defendant committed fraud and breached his fiduciary duties to plaintiff and Paron by making false statements of fact about his program, his investment track record, and his personal financial situation. As a result, plaintiffs were entitled to extensive damages against defendant based on their lost future earnings and other costs associated with the formation and operation of Paron. The court also awarded plaintiffs limited injunctive relief requiring defendant to destroy or return copies of Paron's trading program and to stop marketing any versions of that trading program.View "Paron Capital Mgmt., LLC, et al. v. Crombie" on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Contracts, Corporate Compliance, Professional Malpractice & Ethics, Securities Law
South v. Baker
Two lawsuits alleging violations of the federal securities laws were filed against Hecla Mining Company in federal court. In this action, Plaintiffs, alleged holders of a number of Hecla shares, sued derivatively to recover on behalf of Hecla the damages that the Company had suffered and will suffer from the federal securities actions and the safety violations. Defendants, several individuals associated with the Company, moved to dismiss for failure to make demand or adequately plead demand futility. The Court of Chancery granted the motion and dismissed the complaint with prejudice and without leave to amend as to the named plaintiff, holding that Plaintiffs failed to provide adequate representation for Hecla. The Court noted, however, that the dismissal of Plaintiffs' complaint should not have preclusive effect on the efforts of other stockholders to investigate potential claims and, if warranted, to file suit. View "South v. Baker" on Justia Law
Central Mortgage Co. v. Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings LLC
Central Mortgage and Morgan Stanley entered into a contract concerning the purchase of servicing rights for loans that Morgan Stanley planned to sell to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the agencies) and private investors. Subsequently, many of the loans for which Morgan Stanley sold the servicing rights began to fall delinquent. The agencies exercised their contract right to put delinquent agency loans back to Central Mortgage. Central Mortgage then filed a complaint against Morgan Stanley for breach of contract. The Chancery Court granted Morgan Stanley's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the claims were legally sufficient to withstand the motion. Central Mortgage then filed an amended complaint to add new claims for additional agency loans (new loans) that had been put back by the agencies and to challenge the private loans. Morgan Stanley moved to dismiss the amended complaint. The Chancery Court (1) denied the motion to dismiss to the extent that it rehashed theories that the Court and Supreme Court already considered in the context of its original motion to dismiss; but (2) granted the motion to dismiss the claims related to the new loans because those claims were barred by Delaware's statute of limitations. View "Central Mortgage Co. v. Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings LLC" on Justia Law
JPMorgan Chase & Co. v. American Century Co.
Plaintiffs brought their Verified Complaint asserting claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against defendant. J.P.Morgan also asserted a claim for attorneys' fees and costs under an option agreement that J.P. Morgan and defendant entered into, which was the contract central to the dispute. Defendant moved to dismiss pursuant to Court of Chancery Rule 12(b)(6). The court held that J.P. Morgan has failed to state a claim that defendant breached the express terms of the Option Agreement and therefore, defendant's motion to dismiss was granted as to Count I. Defendant's motion to dismiss was denied as to Count II because J.P. Morgan's allegations, taken together, were sufficient to state a claim of the implied covenant. Finally, defendant's motion to dismiss was denied as to Count III where J.P. Morgan could eventually be the prevailing party in this action. View "JPMorgan Chase & Co. v. American Century Co." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Contracts, Corporate Compliance, Delaware Court of Chancery, Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities Law