Gatz v. Ponsoldt

CONCLUDED

Oral Argument
11/08/06 – 11/08/06

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Summary

Case Description: A defendant acquired a sizeable minority block of shares in the corporation, which gave him de facto control of the corporation. The recapitalization was carried out without any approval of the corporation's public shareholders, and enabled the defendant to cash out most of his equity interest and to convert his de facto stock control of the corporation into an absolute majority interest that was simultaneously transferred to an entity owned by another defendant. A chancellor found that the claims were derivative, and because defendants failed to make a Del. Ch. Ct. R. 23.1 pre-suit demand, the action had to be dismissed.

Proceedings Description: On this appeal, the Appellants challenge the dismissal of only two of their original claims: those arising out of the Recapitalization and the Aggregate Sale. Both claims were found to be exclusively derivative, and, therefore, dismissible for failure to comply with the demand requirement of Court of Chancery Rule 23.1. The Appellants claim that the Court of Chancery reversibly erred by holding that the claims were exclusively derivative, on two alternative grounds.

Outcome: The state supreme court held that the claims were not exclusively derivative and could have been brought directly. The recapitalization was properly analyzed as two separate transactions that defendants, by creative timing and
coordination, caused simultaneously to be rolled into one. The state supreme court held that depriving plaintiffs of their entitlement to seek redress in a direct action would unjustly exalt form over substance. It was the very nature of equity to look beyond form to the substance of an arrangement.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8294939602006019812&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

Outcome

The state supreme court held that the claims were not exclusively derivative and could have been brought directly. The recapitalization was properly analyzed as two separate transactions that defendants, by creative timing and
coordination, caused simultaneously to be rolled into one. The state supreme court held that depriving plaintiffs of their entitlement to seek redress in a direct action would unjustly exalt form over substance. It was the very nature of equity to look beyond form to the substance of an arrangement.

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