Justia Corporate Compliance Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Delaware Court of Chancery
Evans v. Avande, Inc.
Evans served as CEO and a director of Avande, a privately held Delaware corporation that provides medical claims management services to insurance companies and healthcare organizations. Following Evans’s termination, Avande performed an audit and discovered suspect transactions undertaken by Evans while he was serving as CEO. Avande filed suit, alleging breach of fiduciary duty based on alleged self-dealing transactions and improper expenditures and tortious interference, defamation, and conversion based on acts that Evans allegedly committed after his termination. Evans was found liable for about $65,000 in damages, plus interest. Evans demanded advancement for expenses incurred in connection with the action.The Delaware Chancery court entered judgment in favor of Avande. Avande established that there is no causal link between Evans’s status as a former officer of Avande and the tortious inference and defamation claims; those claims solely concerned Evans’s post-termination conduct. Avande demonstrated that Evans did not succeed but was found liable. View "Evans v. Avande, Inc." on Justia 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
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
In re Southern Peru Copper Corp. Shareholder Derivative Litigation
This derivative suit was brought against the Grupo Mexico subsidiary that owned Minera, the Grupo Mexico-affiliated directors of Southern Peru, and the members of the Special Committee, alleging that the Merger at issue was entirely unfair to Southern Peru and its minority stockholders. The court concluded that the transaction was unfair and remedied the unfairness by ordering the controller to return to the NYSE-listed company a number of shares necessary to remedy the harm. The court applied a conservative metric because of plaintiff's delay, which occasioned some evidentiary uncertainties and which subjected the controller to lengthy market risk. View "In re Southern Peru Copper Corp. Shareholder Derivative Litigation" on Justia Law
Sherwood, et al. v. Ngon, et al.
Plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to enjoin ChinaCast from holding its annual shareholder meeting. Plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that the board breached its fiduciary duty of disclosure when communicating its reasons for publicly disclosing that it had removed the current director from the company's slate and no longer recommended his reelection. Plaintiffs argued that this TRO was necessary to provide ChinaCast's shareholders sufficient time to consider corrective disclosures and plaintiffs' competing slate of nominees. The court concluded that it appeared that this action essentially was a dispute between two directors who disagreed about the best way to advance the interests of ChinaCast's shareholders. That disagreement, moreover, had culminated in an impasse in their working relationship. It was not, however, the place of a company's incumbent management or the court to decide whether one candidate was preferable to another for election to the board. Rather, the corporate law emphatically vested that power in the shareholder franchise. Accordingly, Plaintiffs Motion for a TRO was granted so that ChinaCast's shareholders received a fair opportunity to vote their preference on the future direction of the company. View "Sherwood, et al. v. Ngon, et al." on Justia Law
In re Compellent Technologies, Inc. Shareholder Litigation
Plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction against the acquisition of Compellant by Dell. The parties settled after significant discovery but before merits briefing or a hearing. The settlement consideration consisted of modifications to the deal protections in the merger agreement, including the rescission of a stockholder rights plan adopted in connection with the transaction, and six supplemental disclosures. Plaintiffs applied for a fee of $6 million and defendants argued for not more than $1.25 million. In addressing the fee application, and thus to estimate the value of the resulting benefits conferred by the settlement, the court relied primarily on four studies that measured market-wide rates of topping bid activity and the incremental value generated by multiple bidders. The court also evaluated the benefits conferred by the supplemental disclosures. In total, the court awarded $2.4 million. View "In re Compellent Technologies, Inc. Shareholder Litigation" on Justia Law
Clean Harbors, Inc. v. Safety-Kleen, Inc.
This action involved a challenge to a decision by the board of directors of a company to call certain of its outstanding shares. The purchasers of those shares claimed that the company called the shares at a below market price in violation of the express terms of the contracts governing the shares as well as the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The company moved to dismiss the purchaser's complaint for failure to state a claim. The court found that the purchaser had alleged facts that conceivably would support a conclusion that the call price was set below fair market value and that the company acted in bad faith by setting the call price at that value. Therefore, the court denied the company's motion to dismiss. View "Clean Harbors, Inc. v. Safety-Kleen, Inc." on Justia Law