Delaware Supreme Court Gives Preclusive Effect to Federal Court  Dismissal of Derivative Suit for Failure to Show Demand Futility

Delaware Supreme Court Gives Preclusive Effect to Federal Court Dismissal of Derivative Suit for Failure to Show Demand Futility

In its highly anticipated opinion in California State Teachers’ Retirement System v. Alvarez, the Delaware Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the dismissal of a group of Delaware shareholders’ derivative actions, holding that a previous dismissal by a federal court for failure to plead demand futility precluded other shareholders from pursuing additional derivative actions so long as the other shareholders were adequately represented in the earlier suit. Following the New York Times 2012 exposure of Wal-Mart executives’ alleged mishandling of bribery allegations, Wal-Mart shareholders brought derivative suits in the Western District of Arkansas and the Delaware Court of Chancery. In May 2015, the Arkansas court dismissed the case before it, because the shareholders had failed to adequately plead demand futility. Prompted by the Arkansas dismissal, the Delaware Court of Chancery initially dismissed the Delaware action, but, after some ping-ponging back and forth between the Court of Chancery and the Delaware Supreme Court, the Court of Chancery issued a supplemental opinion, recommending that the Supreme Court adopt a rule proposed in EZCORP Inc. Consulting Agreement Deriv. Litig., which held that constitutional Due Process permits a derivative suit to have a preclusive effect on a subsequent derivative suit only if the plaintiff in the first...

Delaware Supreme Court Clarifies Reach of Personal Jurisdiction Over Nonresident Directors and Officers of Delaware Corporations Under 10 Del. C. § 3114 0

Delaware Supreme Court Clarifies Reach of Personal Jurisdiction Over Nonresident Directors and Officers of Delaware Corporations Under 10 Del. C. § 3114

The Delaware Supreme Court, in Marc Hazout v. Tsang Mun Ting, No. 353, 2015 (Feb. 26, 2016) (Strine, C.J.), held that the reach of personal jurisdiction under 10 Del. C. § 3114 over nonresident officers and directors of Delaware corporations, contrary to Court of Chancery precedent, is not limited to claims by stockholders against such officers and directors for breach of fiduciary duty. Rather, under the plain language of the statute, a nonresident officer or director of a Delaware corporation, by virtue of accepting and holding office, has consented to personal jurisdiction in Delaware, subject to the requirements of due process, in two classes of cases: (i) “all civil actions or proceedings brought in this State, by or on behalf of, or against such corporation, in which such officer [or director] is a necessary or proper party”; or (ii) “any action or proceeding against such officer [or director] in violation of a duty in such capacity.”

Business Organizations Seeking Quick and Inexpensive Resolutions of Business Disputes Need to Know About Delaware’s Rapid Arbitration Act 0

Business Organizations Seeking Quick and Inexpensive Resolutions of Business Disputes Need to Know About Delaware’s Rapid Arbitration Act

Arbitration is supposed to achieve quick, fair, and inexpensive resolutions of business disputes. But, seemingly more often than not, arbitration fails to fulfill its promise due to expensive and time-consuming pre-hearing discovery, lengthy hearings, and spiraling judicial review of arbitral awards. The Delaware Rapid Arbitration Act, which became effective on May 4, 2015, is Delaware’s unique and cutting-edge effort to offer a new brand of arbitration designed to achieve the original promise of quick and efficient justice.

Retroactive Effect Given to Delaware Statute Authorizing Up to 20-Year Statute of Limitations for Certain Breach of Contract Actions 0

Retroactive Effect Given to Delaware Statute Authorizing Up to 20-Year Statute of Limitations for Certain Breach of Contract Actions

The Delaware Court of Chancery, in Bear Stearns Mortgage Funding Trust 2006-SL1 v. EMC Mortgage LLC, C.A. No. 7701-VCL (Del. Ch. Jan. 12, 2015) (Laster, V.C.), held that the recently enacted 10 Del. C. § 8106(c), which authorizes parties to a written contract involving at least $100,000 to agree to a statute of limitations of up to 20 years, should be applied retroactively to the plaintiff’s breach of representation and warranty claims filed almost six years after the closing of the underlying transaction.

Service of Discovery Also Subject to New Deadline in Delaware Federal Court 0

Service of Discovery Also Subject to New Deadline in Delaware Federal Court

We previously posted on the new deadline of 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time for all filings other than initial pleadings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. On October 15, 2014, Chief Judge Leonard Stark of the District of Delaware issued a letter addressing certain questions about the new rule. Chief Judge Stark reiterated that filings and service must be completed by 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and further indicated that this rule applies to all filing and service deadlines — including service of discovery materials — in every case in the District of Delaware, other than initial pleadings or those cases in Bankruptcy Court.

Put Away that Midnight Oil: New Rule in the District of Delaware 0

Put Away that Midnight Oil: New Rule in the District of Delaware

On October 2, 2014, Chief Judge Leonard Stark of the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware announced a new deadline of 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time for all filings other than initial pleadings. As of October 16, 2014, “[a]side from initial pleadings, all electronic transmissions of documents (including, but not limited to, motions, briefs, appendices, and discovery responses) must be completed by 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, in order to be considered timely filed and served that day.” Initial pleadings which are filed before midnight will still be considered timely.

Delaware Enacts Legislation Authorizing 20-Year Statute of Limitations for Certain Breach of Contract Actions 0

Delaware Enacts Legislation Authorizing 20-Year Statute of Limitations for Certain Breach of Contract Actions

Delaware has recently enacted legislation authorizing parties to a written contract involving at least $100,000 to agree to a statute of limitations of up to 20 years for actions based on that contract. The amendment to 10 Del. C. § 8106, embodied in new subsection (c), gives parties to a written contract the freedom to agree to a limitations period longer than the typical three or four years from accrual of the cause of action, without the need to resort to Delaware’s technical requirements for a contract under seal. The synopsis to the legislation explains that examples of the limitations period to be stated in the contract include, without limitation, (i) a specific period of time, (ii) a period of time defined by reference to the occurrence of another event, another document or agreement or another statutory period, and (iii) an indefinite period of time.

Third Circuit Affirms Bankrupt Asbestos Defendants’ Transfer of Insurance Recovery Rights to Personal Injury Trusts Notwithstanding Insurance Policies’ Anti-Assignment Provisions 0

Third Circuit Affirms Bankrupt Asbestos Defendants’ Transfer of Insurance Recovery Rights to Personal Injury Trusts Notwithstanding Insurance Policies’ Anti-Assignment Provisions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in its May 1, 2012, decision in In re: Federal-Mogul Global, Inc. held that asbestos defendants who file Chapter 11 petitions and seek to resolve their asbestos-related liabilities through the creation of a personal injury trust under Section 524(g) of the Bankruptcy Code may transfer their rights under their liability insurance policies to the trust notwithstanding the policies’ anti-assignment provisions.

Creditors of Insolvent Delaware Limited Liability Companies Lack Standing to Pursue Derivative Claims 0

Creditors of Insolvent Delaware Limited Liability Companies Lack Standing to Pursue Derivative Claims

Relying on the plain language of Delaware’s Limited Liability Company Act, the Delaware Supreme Court, in CML V, LLC v. John Bax, et al., recently ruled that creditors of insolvent Delaware limited liability companies lack standing to sue derivatively for their managers’ alleged breach of their fiduciary duties. According to Chief Justice Myron T. Steele, writing for the Court, 6 Del. C. § 18-1002 of Delaware’s Limited Liability Company Act is “unambiguous and limits derivative standing in LLCs exclusively to ‘member[s]’ or ‘assignee[s].’” In so holding, the Court distinguished insolvent LLCs from insolvent corporations, which are subject to derivative claims by creditors, noting that “the General Assembly is free to elect a statutory limitation on derivative standing for LLCs that is different than that for corporations, and thereby preclude creditors from attaining standing.”

Delaware Supreme Court Endorses Reasonable “Conceivability” on Motion to Dismiss Over Twombly-Iqbal’s “Plausibility” Standard 0

Delaware Supreme Court Endorses Reasonable “Conceivability” on Motion to Dismiss Over Twombly-Iqbal’s “Plausibility” Standard

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly in 2007 and Ashcroft v. Iqbal in 2009, many Delaware Court of Chancery decisions have applied the Twombly-Iqbal “plausibility” standard in ruling on motions to dismiss. In its recent decision in Central Mortgage Company v. Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings LLC, however, the Delaware Supreme Court refused to apply the Twombly-Iqbal “plausibility” standard and, instead, held that — at least for now — Delaware’s less stringent reasonable “conceivability” standard is what governs motions to dismiss in Delaware courts.