Articles Posted in Delaware Court of Chancery

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This matter came before the court on a Petition for Partition of a five acre parcel of land. The property had been sold by a Trustee, the Trustee's Return had been accepted, and the proceeds of the sale had been placed in escrow. The property was owned in common by petitioner and her five co-tenants. Petitioner had filed a claim against the proceeds of the sale for her attorney's fees and to reimburse her for the cost of an appraisal of the property she ordered in connection with her partition request. The court held that there was no common benefit that had been accomplished for the co-tenants and therefore, the application of the "common benefit" exception to the American Rule was not warranted and each party must bear his own attorneys' fees. The court also held that the appraisal was obtained at the request of and for the benefit of petitioner, who wished to sell her interest. Therefore, the cost must be borne by petitioner.

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This action was dismissed under Rule 41(c) in a March 9, 2011 order. Plaintiff subsequently moved to vacate the court's dismissal under Rule 60(b)(6) on the ground that he did not receive the requisite notice under Rule 41(e). The court held that had plaintiff made even the smallest of efforts to prosecute the case for the more than two years that preceded the court's order, the clerical mistake regarding his address would have been detected and corrected. Therefore, the court held that because the record indisputably showed that plaintiff had taken no action in this case for over two years, the court denied his motion to vacate under Rule 60(b)(6).

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Plaintiff filed a motion seeking approval of its appointment of James Gallagher as its "Designated Consultant" pursuant to the Stipulation and Order for the Production and Exchange of Proprietary Information entered by the court on February 22, 2010. Defendant objected to Gallagher's designation. The court held that because the terms of the order did not prevent the selection of a likely fact witness as a Designated Consultant - and the order did not otherwise prevent Gallagher's designation - and because compensating Gallagher as a Designated Consultant (and not as a fact witness) would not violate the Delaware Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct, plaintiff's Motion to Approve Designated Consultant was granted.

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Plaintiff brought this lawsuit to challenge the approximately $42.5 million acquisition of American Surgical Holdings, Inc. (American Surgical) by AH Holdings, Inc. Now before the court was plaintiff's interim application for an award of attorneys' fees and expenses where plaintiff contended that an award of $450,000 was appropriate under Delaware law and would compensate his attorneys for bringing this action, which he argued resulted in American Surgical's corrective disclosures in its definitive proxy statement. The court denied plaintiff's Interim Application for an Award of Attorneys' Fees and Expenses as it was premature where the amount of $450,000 was interim in nature because plaintiff's price and process claims remained viable. The court held that it would reconsider the application once plaintiff's remaining claims have been litigated.