Articles Posted in Delaware Supreme Court

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This appeal in a derivative suit brought by a stockholder of Zynga, Inc. centered on whether the Court of Chancery correctly found that a majority of the Zynga board could impartially consider a demand and thus correctly dismissed the complaint for failure to plead demand excusal under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1. The Supreme Court reversed dismissal of plaintiff's complaint: "Fortunately for the derivative plaintiff, however, he was able to plead particularized facts regarding three directors that create a reasonable doubt that these directors can impartially consider a demand. [. . .] in our view, the combination of these facts creates a pleading stage reasonable doubt as to the ability of these directors to act independently on a demand adverse to the controller's interests. When these three directors are considered incapable of impartially considering a demand, a majority of the nine member Zynga board is compromised for Rule 23.1 purposes and demand is excused." View "Sandys v. Pincus, et al." on Justia Law

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Caris Life Sciences, Inc. operated three business units: Caris Diagnostics, TargetNow and Casrisome. The Diagnostics unit was consistently profitable. TargetNow generated revenue but not profits, and Carisome was in the developmental stage. To secure financing for TargetNow and Carisome, Caris sold Caris Diagnostics to Miraca Holdings. The transaction was structured using a "spin/merge" structure: Caris transferred ownership of TargetNow and Carisome to a new subsidiary, then spun off that subsidiary to its stockholders. Owning only Caris Diagnostics, Caris merged with a wholly owned subsidiary of Miraca. Plaintiff Kurt Fox sued on behalf of a class of option holders of Caris. Fox alleged that Caris breached the terms of the Stock Incentive Plan because members of management as Plan Administrator, rather than the Board of Directors, determined how much the option holders would receive. Regardless of who made the determination, the $0.61 per share attributed to the spun off company was not a good faith determination, and resulted from an arbitrary and capricious process. The Court of Chancery found that fair market value was not determined, and the value received by the option holders was not determined in good faith and that the ultimate value per option was determined through a process that was "arbitrary and capricious." Caris appealed, arguing the Court of Chancery erred in arriving at its judgment. Finding no reversible error in the Court of Chancery's judgment, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed. View "CDX Holdings, Inc. v. Fox" on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery issued four opinions which were appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court. In sum, the appeal and cross-appeal in this case centered on the Chancery Court’s final judgment finding that RBC Capital Markets, LLC aided and abetted breaches of fiduciary duty by former directors of Rural/Metro Corporation ("Rural" or the "Company") in connection with the sale of the Company to an affiliate of Warburg Pincus LLC, a private equity firm. RBC raised six issues on appeal, namely: (1) whether the trial court erred by holding that the board of directors breached its duty of care under an enhanced scrutiny standard; (2) whether the trial court erred by holding that the board of directors violated its fiduciary duty of disclosure by making material misstatements and omissions in Rural’s proxy statement, dated May 26, 2011; (3) whether the trial court erred by finding that RBC aided and abetted breaches of fiduciary duty by the board of directors; (4) whether the trial court erred by finding that the board of directors’ conduct proximately caused damages; (5) whether the trial court erred in applying the Delaware Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act ("DUCATA"); and (6) whether the trial court erred in calculating damages. After careful consideration of each of RBC’s arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the "principal legal holdings" of the Court of Chancery. View "RBC Capital Markets, LLC v. Jervis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed this action seeking books and records from HP under 8 Del. C. 220. At issue was whether a letter concerning allegedly inappropriate conduct by a corporate executive should be kept under seal. The court held that the Court of Chancery acted well within its discretion in holding that the intervenor did not establish good cause to maintain the confidentiality of the letter and therefore, the letter should be unsealed. View "Hurd v. Espinoza and Hewlett-Packard Co." on Justia Law

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Sagarra, a Spanish corporation, was a minority shareholder of Uniland, also a Spanish corporation. Sagarra brought a Court of Chancery action to rescind the sale, by CPV, of Giant, to Uniland. CPV was the controlling stockholder of both Giant and Uniland. Sagarra purported to sue derivatively on behalf of a wholly-owned Delaware subsidiary of Uniland, UAC, which was specifically created as the vehicle to acquire Giant. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that Sagarra lacked standing to enforce a claim on behalf of UAC. The Court of Chancery held that Sagarra's standing to sue was governed by Spanish law, because Uniland - the only entity in which Sagarra owned stock - was incorporated in Spain. The court upheld the Court of Chancery's reasoning and judgment because Sagarra failed to satisfy the demand requirements of Spanish law. View "Sagarra Inversiones, S.L., v. Cementos Portland Valderrivas, S.A., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought this action under 8 Del. C. 220 to inspect certain books and records of defendant. More specifically, plaintiff sought to inspect one document that defendant refused voluntarily to disclose: an interim report (Covington Report) prepared by defendant's outside counsel in connection with an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against defendant's former CEO. The Court of Chancery denied plaintiff relief and held that plaintiff had not demonstrated a need to inspect the Covington Report sufficient to overcome the attorney-client privilege and work product immunity protections. The court affirmed, but on the alternative ground that plaintiff had not shown that the Covington report was essential to his stated purpose, which was to investigate possible corporate wrongdoing. View "Espinoza v. Hewlett-Packard Co." on Justia Law

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Liberty commenced this action against the Trustee under the Indenture, seeking injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that the proposed Capital Splitoff would not constitute a disposition of "substantially all" of Liberty's assets in violation of the Indenture. The Court of Chancery concluded, after a trial, that the four transactions at issue should not be aggregated, and entered judgment for Liberty. The Court of Chancery concluded that the proposed splitoff was not "sufficiently connected" to the prior transactions to warrant aggregation for purposes of the Successor Obligor Provision. The court agreed with the judgment of the Court of Chancery and affirmed. View "The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co. v. Liberty Media Corp." on Justia Law

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CML, a junior secured creditor of JetDirect, sued JetDirect's present and former officers directly and derivatively for breaching their fiduciary duties. The Vice Chancellor dismissed all four of CML's claims. The court affirmed the judgment because CML, as a JetDirector creditor, lacked standing to sue derivatively on JetDirect's behalf. View "CML V, LLC, et al. v. Bax, et al." on Justia Law

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Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. and the Board of Trade of the City of New York, Inc. (collectively, defendants), merged in 2007. Plaintiff was a member of the Board of Trade before the merger and the merger agreement required that if a member, including plaintiff, wished to continue in the newly merged enterprise, the member had to submit an Election Form specifying that preference by a stated deadline. Plaintiff did not receive the Election Form until after the deadline had passed and thereafter, defendants learned that many members, including plaintiff, had failed to submit the Election Form. Defendants waived the deadline and then, in an ad hoc manner and without notice to any member, imposed a new deadline. Defendants subsequently decided that plaintiff's Form was untimely and, of all the post-deadline-filled Forms, plaintiff's Form was the only one that defendants deemed untimely and refused to honor. Thereafter, plaintiff filed an action alleging breach of contract and the Court of Chancery ruled in favor of defendants. The court concluded, however, that defendants waived the initial deadline and also failed to retract that waiver by providing reasonable notice of their new deadline. Because the retraction of the waiver was invalid as a matter of law, plaintiff's Election Form was timely. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Chancery was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Amirsaleh v. Bd of Trade of the City of New York Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a contest for control of Trans-Resources, Inc., a Delaware corporation, where plaintiffs brought a Court of Chancery action under 8 Del. C. 225 against defendant to determine which stockholder group possessed the majority voting interest entitled to elect the Trans-Resources board of directors. The court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Chancery in so far as it embodied and implemented the rulings in the Merits and Spoliation Opinions; and reversed to the extent it adjudicated the beneficial ownership of the Orly Trust Shares and the Genger Shares based on the determinations made in its August 9, 2010 Side Letter Opinion and August 18, 2010 Final Judgment Order. View "Genger v. TR Investors, LLC, et al." on Justia Law