As I have noted before, Elon Musk is a reliable source of interesting blog fodder. His hyperkinetic fracases are so numerous that at times it is easy to lose track of the many controversies in which he is involved. Amidst all of the hoopla about his current bid to acquire Twitter, it was easy to overlook the fact that he remained mired in ongoing litigation relating Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity. As the heart of the dispute was the fact that Musk served both as Chairman of SolarCity and as an executive of and as the largest shareholder of Tesla at the time.

The dispute went to a ten-day bench trial in 2021, and on April 27, 2022, Delaware Vice Chancellor Joseph R. Slights III issued a lengthy opinion ruling in Musk’s favor on all issues. A copy of the opinion can be found here. As discussed below, the sprawling, 132-page opinion contains a number of interesting observations and insights and also has important implications.
Continue Reading Elon Musk Prevails in Trial Over Tesla’s Acquisition of SolarCity

Bryan W. Petrilla

On March 16, 2022, the Delaware Supreme Court issued an important decision on the “relatedness” issue in the First Solar case, as I discussed in a prior post on this site, here. In the following guest post, Bryan W. Petrilla, Esq., a partner in the Stewart Smith law firm in Philadelphia, takes a look at the First Solar decision and considers its implication. I would like to thank Bryan for allowing me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Here is Bryan’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Must Claims be “Fundamentally Identical” to be “Related”? The Delaware Supreme Court Weighs In  

In January of this year, when the Delaware Chancery Court sustained the Delaware state court direct action filed against the directors and officers of the SPAC that had acquired MultiPlan Corp., I speculated that the Court’s ruling would encourage other disgruntled SPAC investors to bring similar Delaware direct actions against SPAC management.

Consistent with my speculation, on March 18, 2022, a plaintiff shareholder filed a direct action for breach of fiduciary duty against certain former directors of officers of Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corporation, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), that in July 2021 merged with Hyzon Motors USA to form Hyzon Motors Inc. The claim is brought on behalf of SPAC investors who were entitled to redeem their shares at the time of the merger.  The plaintiff claims that the defendants’ misrepresentations about the merger deprived the plaintiff class of their right to make an informed redemption decision. The claims asserted on behalf of the investors are not only very similar to the allegations previously raised in the MultiPlan litigation, but the new complaint expressly quotes the dismissal motion denial ruling in the MultiPlan ruling. As discussed below, this latest lawsuit may indicate a likely future direction for SPAC related litigation. A copy of the complaint in the new Delaware state court direct action can be found here.
Continue Reading Investors Bring SPAC-Related Direct Fiduciary Breach Action Relating to Hyzon Motors Merger

In an interesting decision that explores the standard to be used in determining whether an earlier claim and a later claim are interrelated, the Delaware Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court ruling that a later filed opt-out action is related to a securities lawsuit earlier filed against First Solar, and therefore that the opt-out action is not covered under the D&O insurance program in place at the time the opt-out action was filed. Interestingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court even though the appellate court held that the lower court had erroneously applied a “fundamentally identical” standard to the relatedness question rather than the relatedness standard defined by the policies. The Delaware Supreme Court’s March 16, 2022 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Supreme Court: Opt-Out Action “Related” to Securities Class Action, Precluding Coverage

As I noted in a prior post (here), Delaware’s legislature recently enacted a new legislation to permit Delaware corporations to put captive insurance in place as an alternative to traditional D&O insurance. In the following guest post, Richard Porter, Head of Financial Lines, Chubb Bermuda, Jarrod Schlesinger, Head of Public Company Management Liability, Chubb N.A. Financial Lines, and Dan Bailey, Member of Bailey Cavalieri LLC, take a look at the Delaware captive legislation and raise a number of concerns about the new law. A version of this article was previously published by Chubb on its website and can be accessed here. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Proceed with Caution: Concerns About Delaware’s New Captive Statute

Within the D&O marketplace, the SPAC and De-SPAC space has been difficult over the last 18 to 24 months. Pricing for D&O insurance for SPACs and De-SPACs has been extraordinarily high. In addition, the insurers are only willing to provide coverage at all with extraordinarily high self-insured retentions (SIRs). These difficult marketplace conditions have caused many buyers to consider possible insurance alternatives, such as Side-A only insurance programs. The high SIRs also raise practical questions about how the elevated retentions will be funded in the event of the claim. The possible alternative insurance structures and the questions about funding the elevated retentions in turn raise a host of complicated issues about indemnification and advancement, particularly concerning the obligations of the go-forward De-SPAC company to provide indemnification and advancement for post-merger claims against former directors and officers of the SPAC.

Anyone who has had to try to think about these complicated indemnification and advancement issues will want to review the recent Delaware Chancery Court decision in action brought by a former SPAC officer and director, Marlene Krauss, to try to enforce her advancement rights against the post-merger De-SPAC company, 180 Life Sciences Corp. In a detailed opinion, Vice Chancellor Will basically held that Krauss was entitled to advancement except with respect to claims brought against Krauss for conduct in her capacities other than as a director or officer of the SPAC. Although D&O insurance is not addressed in the Opinion, the Vice Chancellor’s rulings arguably have important insurance implications, for example, with respect to the availability of Side A coverage and the funding of SIRs. The Vice Chancellor’s March 7, 2022 Opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Thinking About SPACs, De-SPACs, and Indemnification and Advancement

A recurring issue in recent years has been the question of whether there is coverage under D&O insurance for a shareholder appraisal action. Based on differences in policy wording, the analysis of the issue has turned on a variety of different questions. In a July 2021 ruling (discussed here), a Delaware Superior Court Judge had held that there was no coverage under the D&O insurance policy at issue because the underlying appraisal action was not an action “for” a Wrongful Act, as was required under the policy in order for there to be coverage. Now in a brief opinion the Delaware Supreme Court has affirmed the lower court’s decision, leaving in place the ruling that the policy at issue does not provide coverage for the underlying appraisal action. The Delaware Supreme Court’s March 3, 2022 opinion in the Jarden case can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Supreme Court Affirms Coverage Denial for Appraisal Action

In a development that has set the D&O insurance industry commentariat abuzz, on January 27, 2022, the Delaware General Assembly passed Senate Bill No. 203, which amends the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) to permit Delaware corporations to put captive insurance in place as an alternative to traditional D&O insurance. The legislation awaits the signature of Delaware Governor John Carney, who reportedly has already said he will sign it. As discussed below, the legislation has several interesting features, but the more interesting question is what the practical impact of the legislation will be.
Continue Reading Delaware Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Use of Captives for D&O Insurance

Readers of this blog will be interested to know that in a recent D&O insurance coverage dispute, the Delaware Superior Court actually handed the D&O insurers a win — a rare development indeed in Delaware’s courts. However, the D&O insurers won by successfully arguing that Delaware law governed the insurance dispute; the ultimate outcome may have been due in part to the fact that the losing policyholder was in the uncomfortable position of trying to argue that another jurisdiction’s law controlled after all after having first argued that Delaware law applied. There are a lot of twists and turns to this case, but, as discussed below, the outcome of this case arguably is far from reassuring to D&O insurers, even though the insurers prevailed in this case.
Continue Reading Rare D&O Insurer Win in Delaware Court, But Should D&O Insurers Celebrate?

In my review of SPAC-related litigation on this site, I have mostly focused on SPAC-related securities litigation. However, there have been other types of SPAC-related lawsuits filed, including SPAC-related breach of fiduciary duty direct actions filed in Delaware courts (as discussed for example here). On January 3, 2022, Delaware Vice Chancellor Lori W. Will entered an opinion in one of these direct action breach of fiduciary duty cases – the closely-watched MultiPlan action – denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss and holding that though Delaware courts “have not previously had an opportunity to consider the application of our law in the SPAC context,” well-established Delaware legal principles led the court “despite the novel issues presented” to conclude that the plaintiffs have pleaded “viable, non-exculpated claims against the SPAC’s controlling stockholder and directors.”

As discussed below, the court’s ruling is a landmark ruling addressing governance concerns relating to potential conflicts of interest between a SPAC’s sponsors and directors and officers and its public shareholders. A copy of the January 3, 2022 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Court Dismissal Denial Has Important SPAC-Related Litigation Implications