The Court of Chancery Prunes Back the Limits of Its Jurisdiction

The Delaware Court of Chancery is one of limited jurisdiction, accessible only when complete relief at law is unavailable. On March 4, 2024, in Graciano v Adobe Healthcare, Inc., Vice Chancellor Glasscock continued a trend from other recent cases toward guarding the limits of the Court of Chancery’s equitable jurisdiction, when he concluded that a claim for release of funds in escrow established through an M&A transaction was not equitable in nature—even though framed as a request for specific performance—because a declaratory judgment was the only judicial action required to afford the Plaintiff relief.

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Securities Litigation Against Life Sciences Companies: 2023

Securities class actions against life sciences companies are mostly second-order problems. The first-order problem is a business or regulatory setback that, when disclosed by the company or a third party, triggers a stock price decline. Following the decline, plaintiffs’ class-action attorneys search the company’s previous public statements and seek to identify inconsistencies between past positive comments and the current negative development. In most cases, plaintiffs’ attorneys then seek to show that any arguable inconsistency amounts to fraud — that is, they will claim that the earlier statement was knowingly or recklessly false or misleading. When the challenged statement appears in a public offering document (that is, a registration statement or prospectus), plaintiffs need only show that the statement was materially false or misleading, not that it was made with scienter or caused their losses.

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Securities Litigation Against Life Sciences Companies: Eleven Takeaways from 2022

Securities class actions against life sciences companies are generally second-order problems.  The first-order problem is a business or regulatory setback that, when disclosed by the company or a third party, is followed by a stock price drop.  Following the decline, plaintiffs’ class action attorneys search the company’s previous public statements for inconsistencies between past positive comments and the current negative development.  In most cases, plaintiffs’ attorneys then seek to show that any arguable inconsistency amounts to fraud—that is, they will claim that the earlier statement was knowingly or recklessly false or misleading.  When a company makes the challenged statement in a public offering document (that is, a registration statement or prospectus), plaintiffs need to show that the statement was materially false or misleading, but not that it was made with scienter, i.e., the requisite state of mind.

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Securities Litigation Against Life Sciences Companies: Eleven Takeaways from 2021

Securities class actions against life sciences companies are almost always second-order problems.  The first-order problem is a business or regulatory setback that, when disclosed by the company or a third party, is followed by a stock price drop.  Following the decline, plaintiffs’ class-action attorneys will search the company’s previous public statements in search of inconsistencies between past positive comments and the current negative development.  In most cases, plaintiffs’ attorneys will seek to show that any arguable inconsistency amounts to fraud—that is, they will claim that the earlier statement was knowingly or recklessly false or misleading.  Where a company makes the challenged statement in a public offering document (that is, a registration statement or prospectus), plaintiffs need only show that the statement was materially false or misleading, not that it was made with scienter, i.e., the requisite state of mind.

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The Refined Demand Futility Standard Takes Shape

Over the past several months, a number of decisions released by the Delaware courts have begun to grapple with the new Zuckerberg three-part demand futility standard announced by the Delaware Supreme Court in September. Many cases spotlight the need to assess demand futility on a director-by-director basis. But at least one recent decision has highlighted another aspect of the test, and instead turns on the need to assess demand futility on a transaction-by-transaction basis. In In re Vaxart, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, Vice Chancellor Fioravanti dismissed several claims from a shareholder derivative suit purportedly filed on behalf of Vaxart, Inc. because the plaintiffs failed to allege that a majority of the directors received a material personal benefit or faced a substantial likelihood of liability from the specific transaction that would have been the subject of the pre-suit demand. (more…)

Sidley Perspectives on M&A and Corporate Governance

Sidley is pleased to share the June 2021 issue of Sidley Perspectives on M&A and Corporate Governance, a quarterly newsletter designed to keep you current on what we consider to be the most important legal developments involving M&A and corporate governance matters.

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“Chalking Up a Victory for Deal Certainty,” Delaware Court of Chancery Orders That Contested Merger Close

Last Friday, soon-to-be Chancellor McCormick issued a decision in Snow Phipps Group, LLC v. KCake Acquisition, Inc. that ordered the defendant buyers to specifically perform their agreement to acquire DecoPac Holdings, Inc. (“DecoPac” or the Company), which sells cake decorations and technology for use in supermarket bakeries. The 125-page decision, which opens with a quote from the incomparable Julia Child (“A party without cake is just a meeting”), and is rightly described by the Court as a “victory for deal certainty,” offers a detailed analysis of several common contractual provisions in the time of COVID-19. Despite its length, it is a must-read for those interested in the drafting and negotiation of M&A agreements generally, and their operation during the COVID-19 pandemic specifically.

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