Justia Business Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Delaware Court of Chancery
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In this action to compel the issuance of a replacement stock certificate the Court of Chancery ordered PDV Holding, Inc. (PDVH), a Delaware corporation, to issue a replacement stock certificate conditioned upon Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), posting an unsecured bond in the amount of $10,000, holding that the relief sought is granted.In the main dispute, non-party Crystallex International Corporation sought to collect on an arbitration award by executing on PDVSA's U.S.-based assets, and the federal district court ordered a sale of PDVH's stock. PDVSA, the registered owner of all shares of PDVH's stock, filed this action seeking to compel the issuance of a replacement stock certificate representing all 1,000 shares of PDVH that PDVSA owned. The Court of Chancery ordered PDVH to issue a replacement stock certificate conditioned upon PDVSA posting an unsecured bond, holding that PDVH failed to demonstrate good cause for the Court to decline to issue a replacement stock certificate to PDVSA, and PDVSA's entitlement to a replacement stock certificate was conditioned upon its posting of an unsecured bond of $10,000 within seven business days. View "Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. v. PDV Holding, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery denied Sunder Pros LLC's application for a preliminary injunction against Tyler Jackson because Sunder could not establish a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits and further denied Sunder's application for a preliminary injunction against the remaining defendants for lack of an underlying breach of contract.Jackson, the former head of Sunder's sales who lived in Texas, joined Solar Pros, LLC and resigned from Sunder. Sunder, whose headquarters were in Utah but was a Delaware LLC, brought this suit arguing that Jackson was bound by restrictive covenants (the covenants). The Court of Chancery denied relief, holding (1) the covenants, which were facially unreasonable in their own right, were part of an agreement that could not be enforced against Jackson because the agreement originated in an egregious breach of fiduciary duty; and (2) as to the remaining Defendants, there was no underlying breach of contract, and Defendants did not engage in conduct that could support a claim for tortiously interfering with the covenants as required by Utah law. View "Sunder Energy, LLC v. Jackson" on Justia Law

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In this case surrounding the acquisition of Twitter Inc., the Court of Chancery denied Plaintiff's motion for mootness fees, holding that Plaintiff's claim was without merit.Defendants Elon R. Musk, X Holdings I, Inc., and X Holdings II, Inc. agreed to acquire Twitter Inc. pursuant to an agreement and plan of merger (merger agreement). After Defendants' counsel sent a letter to Twitter claiming to terminate the merger agreement Twitter filed a complaint seeking specific enforcement. Thereafter, the deal closed on the original terms of the merger agreement. Plaintiff, who held 5,500 shares of Twitter common stock, brought suit seeking specific performance and damages, claiming that Elon Musk breached his fiduciary duties as a controller of Twitter and that Defendants breached the merger agreement. This Court issued a memorandum opinion dismissing most of Plaintiff's complaint, leaving open the possibility that the damages provision in the merger agreement conveyed third-party beneficiary status to stockholders claiming damages for breach of the agreement. Months later, Plaintiff claimed partial credit for the consummation of the deal and petitioned for mootness fees in the amount of $3 million. The Court of Chancery denied Plaintiff's motion for mootness fees, holding that Plaintiff's claim was not meritorious when filed. View "Crispo v. Musk" on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this action challenging two provisions in a certificate of incorporation of Bumble, Inc., holding that the challenged provisions were valid.The provisions at issue stated that each share will carry one vote, unless the share is owned by a "Principal Stockholder," defined as the parties to a publicly-disclosed stockholders agreement, in which case it will carry ten votes. At the time of this action there were two principal stockholders, including Bumble's founder and its financial sponsor. Plaintiff brought this action seeking a declaration that the provisions were invalid as violating sections 212(a) and 151(a) of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL). The Court of Chancery granted summary judgment for Defendants, holding that the challenged provisions complied with Delaware law. View "Colon v. Bumble, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery declined to approve a settlement agreement negotiated between Plaintiffs and Defendants on behalf of a class of common stockholders Plaintiffs purported to represent, holding that the proposed settlement was not fair and did not fulfill the principles of due process.Plaintiffs, common stockholders of AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc., brought direct claims on behalf of a putative class of common stockholders seeking injunctive relief to stop AMC from holding a special meeting at which Plaintiffs, along with holders of fractional units of blank check preferred stock, were scheduled to vote upon two charter amendments that would authorize more common stock triggering the conversion of the fractional units into shares of common stock and reverse a stock split. Before a preliminary injunctive hearing, Plaintiffs negotiated a settlement with Defendants. The Court of Chancery held that the settlement could not be approved as submitted because, among other things, the settlement purported to release claims that did not arise out of the same factual predicate as the claims asserted in this action and because the release of claims arising out of preferred interests was not supported by consideration. View "In re AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. Stockholder Litigation" on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery granted Petitioner's petition to hold Respondents - Hone Capital LLC and CSC Upshot Ventures I, L.P. - in contempt for failing to comply with an order to advance expenses (the advancement order), holding that coercive contempt sanctions can be used to enforce an advancement right.At issue before the Court of Chancery was whether contempt sanctions could be used to enforce the advancement order in this case where contempt is not generally available to enforce a money judgment. The Court of Chancery held (1) due to the harm that a covered person faces, the holder of an advancement right is not relegated to collection mechanisms; and (2) Petitioner was entitled to relief on her request of a daily fine to coerce compliance until Respondents comply with the advancement order. View "Gandhi-Kapoor v. Hone Capital LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery affirmed the judgment of the trial court awarding $75,000 in fees and expenses to Plaintiff's counsel in the underlying stockholder class action instead of the requested award of $1,100,000, holding that the amount requested in this case was unreasonable because the benefits achieved by mooting the lawsuit were insignificant.Plaintiff brought the underlying action challenging a merger agreement under which Centene Corporation agreed to acquire Magellan Health, Inc. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that, as part of a sale process conducted by Magellan, prospective bidders entered confidentiality agreements that contained provisions that rendered stockholder disclosures materially deficient. Shortly thereafter, Magellan issued supplemental disclosures and waived its rights under three of the four confidentiality agreements. These actions mooted Plaintiff's claims and stipulated to dismissal. Plaintiff's counsel then petitioned the court for the $1,100,000 attorneys' fees and expenses award. The court awarded $75,000 in fees and expenses. The Court of Chancery affirmed and then issued this decision to warn other courts applying Delaware law of policy dangers in regard to mootness fee petitions, holding that there was no error in the award of fees and expenses in this case. View "Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2012, Ogus cofounded the SportTechie website. Bloom volunteered as a writer. Eventually, both quit their other jobs. They formed an LLC with Bloom a 55.5% member, and Ogus a 45.5% member and sole manager. They hired Kaufman. Vintage and Oak View made financial investments. In 2016-2017 Ogus converted SportTechie from an LLC to a Delaware corporation and appointed three directors: Bloom, a Vintage representative, and Bodie, Oak View’s designee. A stockholders agreement gave SportTechie the right to repurchase Ogus’s equity interest if he were terminated. Bloom—SportTechie’s CEO— recommended firing Ogus for poor performance. A quorum of the board authorized the termination of his employment. SportTechie exercised its option to repurchase Ogus’s stock.A chancellor dismissed Ogus's fiduciary duty and fraud claims challenging the stock repurchase and subsequently granted Bodie and Oak View summary judgment on a fraud claim, breach of fiduciary duty claims, an aiding and abetting claim, and a civil conspiracy claim. Those defendants had limited, innocuous roles in the relevant events. Bodie’s decision to sign the consent terminating Ogus is protected by the business judgment rule; there is no evidence of bad faith or self-interest. With no underlying breach of fiduciary duty claim, the aiding and abetting claim against Oak View and the civil conspiracy claim against Oak View and Bodie necessarily fail. As to Bloom and Kaufman, questions of material fact remain, precluding summary judgment on fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and civil conspiracy claims. View "Ogus v. SportTechie, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Chancery of Chancery granted a company's petition under 8 Del. C. 205 to validate and declare effective an amendment to the company's certificate of incorporation and stock issued in reliance on that amendment, holding that the amendment is hereby validated and declared effective pursuant to 8 Del. C. 205.Dozens of companies formed as special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) proposed amendments to their certificates of incorporation to increase the number of authorized Class A common shares. The SPACs did not hold a separate Class A vote on the proposed amendments, believing them to be a series of common stock. Instead, a majority of the common shares entitled to vote, voting as a single class, approved the charter amendments. When the amendments were effectuated billions of shares were issued with the belief that they were authorized by the companies' certificates of incorporation. After the Court of Chancery issued a decision in Garfield v. Boxed, Inc., 2022 WL 17959766 (Del. Ch. Dec. 27, 2022), Petitioner brought this petition. The Court of Chancery granted relief, holding that the 115,120,243 class of Class A common stock issued in reliance on the effectiveness of the charter amendment are ordered validated and declared effective. View "In re Lordstown Motors Corp." on Justia Law

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The Court of Chancery denied Defendant's motion to dismiss this action brought by stockholders of McDonald's Corporation (the Company) claiming breach of the duty of oversight and breach of the duty of loyalty, holding that Plaintiffs stated a claim sufficient to survive the motion to dismiss.From 2015 until his termination in 2019, Defendant served as the Company's executive vice president and global people officer. Defendant was disciplined in 2018 for sexual harassment then terminated after he committed another act of sexual harassment. Plaintiffs sued Defendant derivatively on the Company's behalf, alleging (1) as human resources officer, Defendant breached his fiduciary duties by ignoring red flags regarding sexual harassment and misconduct at the Company; and (2) Defendant's own acts of sexual harassment constituted a breach of duty in themselves. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Delaware law does not impose on officers a duty of oversight. The Court of Chancery denied the motion to dismiss, holding (1) corporate officers owe the same fiduciary duties as corporate directors, which includes a duty of oversight; (2) Plaintiffs stated a claim against Defendant for breach of his oversight duties; and (3) Plaintiffs' claim against Defendant for his acts of sexual harassment stated a claim upon which relief could be granted. View "In re McDonald's Corporation Stockholder Derivative Litigation" on Justia Law