IN THE COURT OF CHANCERY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE
JOHN P. MCPADDEN, SR.,
SANJIV S. SIDHU, STEPHEN
BRADLEY, HARVEY B. CASH,
RICHARD L. CLEMMER, MICHAEL
E. MCGRATH, LLOYD G.
WATERHOUSE, JACKSON L.
WILSON, JR., ROBERT L.
CRANDALL AND ANTHONY
i2 TECHNOLOGIES, INC.,
) Civil Action No. 3310-CC
Date Submitted: June 17, 2008
Date Decided: August 29, 2008
Norman M. Monhait, of ROSENTHAL MONHAIT & GODDESS, P.A.,
Wilmington, Delaware; OF COUNSEL: Robert C. Schubert, Juden Justice Reed,
and Aaron H. Darsky, of SCHUBERT & REED LLP, San Francisco, California,
Attorneys for Plaintiff.
Kenneth J. Nachbar and Leslie A. Polizoti, of MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT &
TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; OF COUNSEL: Jordan D. Hershman,
Michael D. Blanchard, and Matthew C. Applebaum, of BINGHAM
MCCUTCHEN LLP, Boston, Massachusetts, Attorneys for Defendants.
Though what must be shown for bad faith conduct has not yet been
completely defined, 1 it is quite clearly established that gross negligence, alone,
cannot constitute bad faith. 2 Thus, a board of directors may act “badly” without
acting in bad faith. This sometimes fine distinction between a breach of care
(through gross negligence) and a breach of loyalty (through bad faith) is one
illustrated by the actions of the board in this case.
In June 2005, the board of directors of i2 Technologies, Inc. (“i2” or the
“Company”) approved the sale of i2’s wholly owned subsidiary, Trade Services
Corporation (“TSC”), to a management team led by then-TSC vice president,
defendant Anthony Dubreville (“Dubreville”) for $3 million. Two years later, after
first rejecting an offer of $18.5 million as too low just six months after the sale,
Dubreville sold TSC to another company for over $25 million. These transactions
engendered this lawsuit and the motions to dismiss presently before me. Plaintiff
alleges that the Company’s directors caused the Company to sell TSC to
See In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litig., 906 A.2d 27, 66 (Del. 2006) (identifying the three
most salient examples of bad faith conduct, but explicitly noting that there “may be other
examples of bad faith yet to be proven or alleged”) (quoting In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative
Litig., 907 A.2d 693, 755–56 (Del. Ch. 2005)). See also id. at 64 (noting that the “duty to act in
good faith is, up to this point relatively uncharted”); Stone ex rel. AmSouth Bancorporation v.
Ritter, 911 A.2d 362 (Del. 2006).
In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litig., 906 A.2d at 64, 65. (“[W]e address the issue of
whether gross negligence (including a failure to inform one’s self of available material facts),
without more, can constitute bad faith.” The answer is clearly no.”).
Dubreville’s team for a price that the directors knew to be a mere fraction of TSC’s
fair market value.
A. Procedural History
Plaintiff utilized a section 220 books and records demand to investigate the
TSC sale. He later initiated this action on behalf of i2 to recover the losses it
sustained as a result of the alleged bad faith conduct of the board and Dubreville.
Plaintiff alleges that demand is excused for futility because the board’s approval of
the sale was not a proper exercise of business judgment. In his complaint, plaintiff
alleges two causes of action. First, he asserts a breach of fiduciary duty claim
against the directors who approved the sale of TSC and against Dubreville.
Second, plaintiff alleges unjust enrichment against Dubreville alone.
defendants, including nominal defendant i2, together move to dismiss plaintiff’s
complaint pursuant to Chancery Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim and
Chancery Rule 23.1 for failure to plead particularized facts excusing plaintiff’s
failure to make a demand upon the board.
B. The Parties
Nominal defendant i2, a Delaware corporation headquartered in Dallas,
Texas, sells supply chain management software and related consulting services.
i2’s charter includes an exculpatory provision, which protects i2’s directors from
liability to the fullest extent under Delaware law.
The Company operated a
division known as the Content and Data Services Division (“CDSD”), which
included both TSC and another subdivision known as CDS. TSC occupied a niche
market unrelated to i2’s main line of business.
Defendants Sanjiv S. Sidhu (“Sidhu”), Stephen Bradley (“Bradley”), Harvey
B. Cash (“Cash”), Richard L. Clemmer (“Clemmer”), Michael E. McGrath
(“McGrath”), Lloyd G. Waterhouse (“Waterhouse”), Jackson L. Wilson, Jr.
(“Wilson”), and Robert L. Crandall (“Crandall” and, together, the “Director
Defendants”) were or still are members of the i2 board of directors. All Director
Defendants approved the 2005 sale of TSC. Of these directors, defendants Cash,
Crandall, Clemmer, Bradley, Waterhouse, and Wilson were members of the
board’s special committee that was charged with reviewing the Sonenshine
fairness opinion. Defendant Dubreville was not a director of i2; he was vice
president of CDCS, which, as described above, was a division of i2 that included
II. FACTS 3
The gravamen of plaintiff’s complaint is that i2’s directors caused the
Company to sell TSC, its wholly owned subsidiary, to members of TSC’s
management in bad faith for a price that defendants knew was a fraction of TSC’s
fair market value.
The facts are as alleged in plaintiff’s complaint.
A. i2’s Purchase of TSC
In early 2001, i2 acquired TSC and a related company for $100 million. By
that time, Dubreville was CEO and president of TSC. After i2’s acquisition of
TSC, Dubreville remained in charge of TSC. By late 2004 or early 2005, i2
decided to sell TSC after determining that TSC was a non-core business that
should be divested.
B. VIS/ME Offers to Buy TSC
In June 2002, Dubreville caused TSC to sue VisionInfoSoft and its sister
company, Material Express.com, (together, “VIS/ME”), competitors of TSC, for
copyright infringement. In 2002 and 2003, while the copyright litigation was
pending, VIS/ME inquired about purchasing TSC, apparently for the purpose of
resolving the lawsuit.
On July 12, 2002, VIS/ME’s chairman, Earl Beutler
(“Beutler”), sent certified letters to i2 directors, including Sidhu, Cash, and
Crandall, informing them that VIS/ME had made several inquiries regarding its
interest in acquiring TSC, communicating VIS/ME’s strong interest so the board
would be aware of it before approving a sale to another party, and suggesting that
VIS/ME was prepared to outbid other offerors.
On July 27, 2002, i2’s vice
president, Mike Short (“Short”), telephoned Beutler in response to this letter.
On July 27, 2002, in response to Short’s call, Beutler wrote Short a letter
stating that he decided to again inquire about the possibility of purchasing TSC and
that he also had contacted i2’s CFO, but had received no response. Beutler also
We have heard rumors that i2 was considering a sale of [TSC] (in fact,
we have learned that Anthony Dubreville announced to [TSC]
employees that he was planning to purchase the company; he then
filed what we believe to be a meritless lawsuit against our companies
so that he could use the i2 resources to weaken a competitor and then
purchase a stronger company).” 4
This is why, Beutler wrote, he was contacting the i2 board. If such a sale
was being discussed, he thought that VIS/ME would gain the most value from an
acquisition of TSC because of overlap between TSC and VIS/ME customers and
products. On July 30, 2002, Short e-mailed Beutler that Short would respond soon.
On September 16, 2002, Beutler e-mailed Short and stated that he remained
interested in TSC, if and when i2 wanted to sell it. On September 17, 2002, Short
e-mailed Beutler stating that i2 was not interested in selling TSC at that time. In
that message, Short informed Beutler that Short was leaving i2 and that any further
inquiries should be directed to Antonio Boccalandro.
In January 2003, Beutler sent a letter to Sidhu and i2’s CFO stating that
VIS/ME would be willing to pay up to $25 million for TSC. The letter repeated
that there was significant organizational overlap between TSC and VIS/ME, and
that Beutler believed the combined operations would produce significant additional
cash flow within a short period of time. The i2 board discussed TSC—its business
Compl. ¶ 30.
and its effect on i2—at a meeting held a few days later. Director defendants Sidhu,
Cash, and Crandall attended the meeting. Later, in June 2004, TSC and VIS/ME
settled their copyright infringement dispute with VIS/ME agreeing to pay quarterly
licensing fees to TSC. In late 2004, Dubreville contacted VIS/ME’s president and
CEO to discuss Beutler’s January 2003 letter.
C. Dubreville’s Continued Alleged Manipulation of TSC’s Earnings
Plaintiff alleges a litany of actions purportedly taken by Dubreville (and
allegedly permitted by the Director Defendants) to drive down the earnings of
TSC, including incurring unnecessary expenses (such as leasing twice the
necessary office space); artificially depressing TSC’s EBITDA through use of a
printing company that Dubreville partially owned (and thereby reaping windfall
profits); and causing TSC to incur significant legal expenses in its copyright
dispute with VIS/ME though the new owners of TSC (once it was sold in June
2005) were permitted to retain the benefits of the settlement.
D. i2’s Assessment of TSC for Fiscal Year 2005
In November 2004, i2 conducted a review of CDSD. Dubreville headed
CDSD, which included TSC and the other subdivision, CDS. Under Dubreville’s
direction, CDSD prepared a presentation that included projections of TSC’s FY
2005 revenue at $16 million, which was an increase of 2% over FY 2004, and FY
2006 revenue of $16.8 million. This presentation also stated that operational costs
reflected in TSC’s accounting records included costs attributable to the other
business unit in CDSD (i.e., CDS), and recommended a restructuring of the
internal reporting system to more accurately track business unit performance.
Plaintiff alleges that these inaccurate allocations enabled Dubreville to make
TSC’s earnings appear lower than they actually were and that, though not
disruptive to day to day operations, such improper cost allocations negatively
impacted TSC’s value when it was sold.
E. The Board’s Reliance on Dubreville to Broker the Sale of TSC
In December 2004, the i2 board decided to sell TSC.
memorandum was prepared in January 2005 to convey information about TSC to
prospective purchasers. At a board meeting on February 1, 2005, i2’s investment
banker, Sonenshine Partners (“Sonenshine”), gave a presentation that included
various options for the sale of TSC. One of these options was to sell TSC for $4.2
million to TSC employees. At this meeting, the board was also apprised of the
plan to let Dubreville conduct the sale process of TSC. By this time, Dubreville
was aware that VIS/ME earlier had expressed interest in buying TSC for up to $25
million and Dubreville had already discussed with i2 the possibility of leading a
management buyout of TSC.
Sidhu, Clemmer, Cash, Crandall, and McGrath
discussed the idea of a management buyout at the February 1, 2005 board meeting.
Nevertheless, no business broker or investment banker was hired; the board
charged Dubreville with finding a buyer for TSC.
In mid-February, the February 2005 version of the offering memorandum
was created. This version altered the projections used in the January 2005 offering
memorandum; these revised projections were significantly reduced. 5 The February
2005 offering memorandum was ultimately used by Dubreville to solicit bids for
Plaintiff recounts Dubreville’s limited efforts to market TSC. Dubreville did
not solicit interest from any of TSC’s direct competitors, which were its most
In particular, Dubreville did not solicit interest from VIS/ME
though he and at least three directors (Sidhu, Cash, and Crandall) knew VIS/ME
had indicated a strong interest in buying TSC and had offered as much as $25
million for TSC in 2003. Though Dubreville did contact Reed Elsevier Inc. (owner
of LexisNexis information services), he did not contact that company’s largest
competitor, Thomson Corporation (owner of Westlaw), because plaintiff alleges
The January 2005 offering memorandum projected: FY 2005 revenues of $16 million,
EBITDA of $1.2 million, and free cash flow of $0.9 million; FY 2006 revenues of $17 million,
EBITDA of $1.7 million, and free cash flow of $1.4 million; and FY 2007 revenues of $18
million, EBITDA of $2.2 million, and free cash flow of $1.9 million. The February 2005
offering memorandum reduced these projections to: FY 2005 revenues of $14.7 million,
EBITDA of $0.6 million, and free cash flow of $0.2 million; FY 2006 revenues of $15.5 million,
EBITDA of $0.75 million, and free cash flow of $0.35 million; and FY 2007 revenues of $16
million, EBITDA of $0.9 million, and free cash flow of $0.6 million.
that Dubreville knew that contacting Thomson would alert VIS/ME that TSC was
While the search for a buyer for TSC was ongoing, on March 9, 2005, the
board again discussed Dubreville’s proposal to lead a management buyout of TSC.
By this point, Dubreville had solicited only two bids for TSC.
Dubreville employed ultimately produced three offers for TSC. First, an electronic
parts distributor, HIS, offered $12 million for the entire CDSD division, of which
$4.3 million was allocated to TSC. Because i2 did not want to bundle these two
businesses for sale, it rejected IHS’s offer. Ultimately, in 2006 IHS purchased
CDS (the other CDSD subdivision) for approximately $29 million. A second offer
was from an entity named Sunrise Ventures, the principal of which was
Dubreville’s former boss at TSC and his partner in a printing company. Sunrise
Ventures offered $1.8 million for TSC, which plaintiff alleges was a “lowball”
offer designed to make the Dubreville-led group’s offer of $3 million appear
The third offer was from the Dubreville-led group, Trade Service
Holdings, LLC (“TSH”), of which Dubreville was a principal owner. On March
18, 2005, TSH offered to buy TSC for $2 million in cash and $1 million in
software licensing agreements, with TSH keeping all outstanding receivables and
repayments. The offer also contemplated that TSC would sublease half its existing
office space, that i2 would pay for TSC’s relocation within its building, and that i2
would bear the costs of the office space that TSC would not use.
F. The Sonenshine Document and Fairness Opinion
About four days before the board’s April 18, 2005 meeting to discuss the
offers for TSC, Sonenshine distributed a document (the “Sonenshine Document”)
that included two sets of TSC projections:
the projections from the original
January 2005 offering memorandum; and the revised February 2005 projections,
which were significantly less profitable. Plaintiff alleges that the board knew that
these projections were “inherently unreliable” because they were “buyer”
projections; both sets of projections were created by TSC management under
Dubreville’s direction when the possibility of a management acquisition of TSC
had already been contemplated. In addition, the Sonenshine Document, reporting
the results of the “internally-led sale process,” notes that, of the thirteen potential
buyers that were contacted, most were large corporations that would be
uninterested in acquiring TSC’s niche business. Notably, no TSC competitors
were contacted during the sale process.
On April 18, 2005, the board met to discuss the proposed management
buyout of TSC and the other two offers for TSC that had been received. As
detailed in the Sonenshine Document, Sonenshine confirmed to the board that its
preliminary valuation of TSC was around $3 to $7 million using the February
management projections; and $6 to $10.8 million using the January projections.
The board then authorized management to move forward with discussions to sell
TSC to TSH (the company partially owned by Dubreville), even though the board
knew that Dubreville had been responsible for conducting the sale of TSC and that
TSC had not been offered to competitors. In addition, plaintiff contends that
neither the board nor the special committee negotiated with Dubreville before the
letter of intent was signed on April 22, 2005.
Plaintiff states that the TSH offer was at the lowest end of Sonenshine’s
range using even the February projections and was half as much as the minimum
estimated value of TSC using the January projections. In addition, plaintiff alleges
gross irregularities in the approval of the sale, including that the special committee
of the board (which was charged with reviewing the fairness of the transaction)
never met with Sonenshine until June 21, 2005, which was a week before the sale
was finally approved. At this point, under the terms of the agreement, if the
special committee or i2 had decided not to go forward with the transaction, the
breakup fee would have been $716,000.
Sonenshine made a preliminary presentation to the special committee on
June 21, 2005, and then an advisory presentation to the special committee and the
board on June 23, 2005. On June 28, 2005, the special committee and the board
met and approved the transaction. Plaintiff alleges that the fairness opinion that
the board relied upon was “on its face grossly and blatantly unreliable” 6 for a litany
Specifically, the two sets of financial projections used in the
discounted cash flow valuation analysis were both lower than the January
projections: the “seller” projections, which had never been presented to the board
and which were more pessimistic than the buyer projections, and the “re-forecasted
buyer” projections, which were similar to the February projections. The source of
this set of projections was, as with the earlier projections, TSC’s management who
were, here, the buyers. In addition, plaintiff contends that the fairness opinion was
flawed because it made use of unreliable, inconsistent, and unaudited financial
statements, which resulted in valuations extremely favorable to the buyer and
which failed to account for the improper allocation of costs between TSC and
CDS. The fairness opinion also failed to include TSC’s competitors on the list of
“potential suitors” and omitted the fees paid to TSC by VIS/ME as part of the
In sum, the effect of these numerous alleged deficiencies is that the fairness
opinion, because it was based on financial information, including projections and
financial statements, provided or prepared by the buyers, favored the interests of
Dubreville and TSH and produced a valuation that supported a sale at a price
exceedingly favorable to the buyers. Because of the unreliability of the fairness
Compl. ¶ 60.
opinion, plaintiff contends, the special committee and the board could not have
relied in good faith on that opinion in its approval of the sale of TSC to Dubreville
at an offer that represented 0.2X sales.
G. The Arm’s Length Sale of CDS for Approximately 2.7X Sales
Plaintiff alleges that the sale of CDS (the other subdivision in CDSD) for
over $29 million (or approximately 2.7X sales) further demonstrates that the sale
price for TSC was inadequate. The CDS sale occurred in early 2006.
H. TSC’s Sale for Its Allegedly True Value
In the fall of 2005, TSH offered to sell TSC to VIS/ME. In December 2005,
VIS/ME offered $18.5 million. TSH, through Dubreville, rejected this offer as too
low and later, in 2007, sold TSC for more than $25 million. Plaintiff contends that
no significant changes to TSC’s business occurred during that period of time to
justify the price difference and instead attributes it to the use of accurate financial
statements, which supported a higher valuation of TSC.
III. LEGAL STANDARDS
In considering this motion to dismiss pursuant to Court of Chancery Rules
23.1 and 12(b)(6), the Court is instructed by well-established guidelines. The
Court must assume the truthfulness of all well-pleaded facts in the complaint and is
required to make all reasonable inferences that logically flow from the face of the
complaint in favor of the plaintiff. 7 Benefitting from such reasonable inferences,
the complaint will then be dismissed for failure to state a claim only if it appears
with reasonable certainty that, under any set of facts that could be proven to
support the claims asserted, the plaintiff would not be entitled to the relief sought.8
But, before I may consider that question, I must first examine whether plaintiff has
satisfied the pleading burden imposed by Rule 23.1, which is more onerous than
that demanded by Rule 12(b)(6).
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a plaintiff need only plead so as to give
notice of the claim; even vague allegations, so long as they give the opposing party
notice of the claim, are well-pleaded. 9
Such vague allegations are, however,
insufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 23.1, which requires
the plaintiff to allege “with particularity the efforts, if any, made by the plaintiff to
obtain the action the plaintiff desires from the directors or comparable authority
and the reasons for the plaintiff’s failure to obtain the action or for not making the
effort.” 10 A derivative action “fetters managerial prerogative” because it is the
directors, not stockholders, who manage the business and affairs of a corporation,
See, e.g., Sample v. Morgan, 914 A.2d 647, 662 (Del. Ch. 2007) (citing Malpiede v. Townson,
780 A.2d 1075, 1082 (Del. 2001)). Even when applying the heightened pleading standards of
Rule 23.1, the Court still draws reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Ryan v.
Gifford, 918 A.2d 341, 355 n.34 (Del. Ch. 2007).
E.g., Sample, 914 A.2d at 662 (citing VLIW Tech., LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 840 A.2d 606,
610–11 (Del. 2003)); Rabkin v. Philip A. Hunt Chem. Corp., 498 A.2d 1099, 1104 (Del. 1985).
In re Gen. Motors (Hughes) S’holder Litig., 897 A.2d 162, 168 (Del. 2006) (citing Savor, Inc.
v. FMR Corp., 812 A.2d 894, 896–97 (Del. 2002)).
Ct. Ch. R. 23.1(a).
which includes determining whether to assert legal claims on behalf of the
Thus, Rule 23.1 requires that a shareholder first demand that the
directors pursue the alleged cause of action or else satisfy “stringent requirements
of factual particularity” to demonstrate that such demand would be futile. 12
Under Aronson, a stockholder may proceed derivatively on behalf of the
corporation without making a presuit demand upon the board if the complaint
alleges particularized facts sufficient to create a reasonable doubt that, first, the
directors were disinterested or independent or, second, the transaction was
otherwise the product of a valid business judgment. 13 Thus, under the second
prong of Aronson, a plaintiff may proceed with a suit against a disinterested and
independent board if the plaintiff pleads particularized facts sufficient to rebut the
presumption of the business judgment rule by alleging a breach of fiduciary duty. 14
Caruana v. Saligman, No. 11135, 1990 WL 212304, at *3 (Del. Ch. Dec. 21, 1990). See also
Aronson v. Lewis, 473 A.2d 805, 811 (Del. 1984); Stone, 911 A.2d at 366–67; 8 Del. C. § 141(a)
(“The business and affairs of a corporation organized under this chapter shall be managed by or
under the direction of a board of directors except as may be otherwise provided in this chapter or
in its certificate of incorporation.”).
Brehm v. Eisner, 746 A.2d 244, 254 (Del. 2000). A plaintiff must plead particularized factual
statements akin to “ultimate facts,” “principal facts,” or “elemental facts.” Id.
Aronson, 473 A.2d at 818.
See id. at 812. “In Delaware mere directorial approval of a transaction, absent particularized
facts supporting a breach of fiduciary duty claim, or otherwise establishing the lack of
independence or disinterestedness of a majority of the directors, is insufficient to excuse
demand.” Id. at 817 (internal citations omitted).
Because the standard under Rule 12(b)(6) is less stringent than that under
Rule 23.1, 15 a complaint that survives a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 23.1
will also survive a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, assuming that it otherwise contains
sufficient facts to state a cognizable claim. 16
In addition, the issue of whether
demand is futile so as to be excused is logically antecedent to whether plaintiff
states a claim because, if demand is not made or is not otherwise excused, the
complaint will be dismissed without any further inquiry into the merits of the
complaint. 17 Thus, this Court’s analysis properly begins with the second prong of
Though defendants insist that plaintiff has failed to plead particularized facts
to excuse his failure to make a demand upon i2’s board, I find that demand is
excused as futile, as explained below. I then consider the effect of the section
102(b)(7) provision on plaintiff’s claims for breach of fiduciary duty against the
Director Defendants and Dubreville and for unjust enrichment against Dubreville.
E.g., Malpiede v. Townson, 780 A.2d 1075, 1083 (Del. 2001) (citing Solomon v. Pathe
Commc’ns Corp., 672 A.2d 35, 38 (Del. 1996)).
See Ryan, 918 A.2d at 357 (“[W]here plaintiff alleges particularized facts sufficient to prove
demand futility under the second prong of Aronson, that plaintiff a fortiori rebuts the business
judgment rule for the purpose of surviving a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).”). See
also In re Walt Disney Derivative Litig., 825 A.2d 275, 285 (Del. Ch. 2003).
Aronson, 473 A.2d at 811 (describing the demand requirement as “exist[ing] at the
A. Demand Futility Under the Second Prong of Aronson
In his complaint, plaintiff alleges neither interest nor lack of independence
and the parties agree that the question of demand futility is properly considered
under the second prong of Aronson. Plaintiff avers that demand is excused as
futile because the board’s approval of the sale was not fully informed, not duly
considered, and not made in good faith for the best interests of the Company. 18 For
the reasons described below, I conclude that, because plaintiff has pleaded a duty
of care violation with particularity sufficient to create a reasonable doubt that the
transaction at issue was the product of a valid exercise of business judgment,
demand is excused as futile.
In evaluating the decisions of boards, the courts of this State have
consistently noted the limited nature of such judicial determinations of due care:
“Due care in the decisionmaking context is process due care only.” 19 Where, as
here, the board has retained an expert to assist the board in its decision making
process, the Delaware Supreme Court has specified that a complaint will survive a
motion to dismiss in a due care case if it alleges particularized facts that, if proven,
would show that “the subject matter . . . that was material and reasonably available
was so obvious that the board’s failure to consider it was grossly negligent
Compl. ¶ 66.
See, e.g., Brehm, 746 A.2d at 264.
regardless of the expert’s advice or lack of advice.” 20 Contrary to defendants’
cursory treatment of this argument, I conclude that the complaint does plead
particularized facts demonstrating that material and reasonably available
information was not considered by the board and that such lack of consideration
constituted gross negligence, irrespective of any reliance on the Sonenshine
The challenged transaction at issue—the sale of TSC to Dubreville’s
group—is analytically a series of discrete board actions. Plaintiff has sufficiently
alleged facts to create a reasonable doubt that they, together, cannot be the product
of a valid exercise of the board’s business judgment. The board’s first step in the
series of actions culminating in the sale of TSC to Dubreville was also its most
egregious: tasking Dubreville with the sale process of TSC when the board knew
that Dubreville was interested in purchasing TSC. Certainly Dubreville’s interest
as a potential purchaser was material to the board’s decision in determining to
whom to assign the task of soliciting bids and offers for TSC. It would be in
Dubreville’s own self-interest to obtain low offers for TSC; the more diligent he
was about seeking the best offers for TSC, the higher Dubreville himself would
have to bid. Had the board not known of Dubreville’s interest in the sale, its
decision to charge him with finding a buyer for TSC might be less perplexing.
Id. at 262.
Yet, this material information was not merely reasonably available to the board, it
was actually known. Dubreville had already discussed with i2 the possibility of
leading a management buyout of TSC, an idea that Sidhu, Clemmer, Cash,
Crandall, and McGrath discussed at the February 1, 2005 board meeting (and a
topic that was later revisited during the March 9, 2005 meeting). Nevertheless, the
board decided that Dubreville, whom the board knew was conflicted, would
conduct the sale process. 21 From this point forward, the board’s actions only
exacerbated a misstep that was presumably otherwise correctable or perhaps even
Despite having tasked a potential purchaser of TSC with its sale, the board
appears to have engaged in little to no oversight of that sale process, providing no
check on Dubreville’s half-hearted (or, worse, intentionally misdirected) efforts in
soliciting bids for TSC. Dubreville’s limited attempts to find a buyer for TSC did
not include contacting the most obvious potential buyers:
competitors, particularly a competitor that had previously offered as much as $25
In February 2005, when the board decided to place Dubreville in charge of the sale process,
five of the eight Director Defendants were on the board: Sidhu, Cash, Crandall, Clemmer, and
McGrath. Compl. ¶¶ 8–12. Director Defendants Wilson, Bradley, and Waterhouse did not join
the board until April 2005. Id. ¶¶ 13–15.
See McMillan v. Intercargo Corp., 768 A.2d 492, 504–05 (Del. Ch. 2000) (“Although the
complaint takes issue with the board’s decision to conduct its search for a buyer through the nonpublic efforts of an investment banker, this is the sort of quibble that, at best, raises a due care
claim under Delaware law.”).
million for TSC in 2003. 23 Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dubreville’s group emerged as
the highest bidder for TSC from the sale process.
The board, during its consideration of the offers for TSC at the April 18,
2005 meeting, discussed the Sonenshine Document, which clearly described
Dubreville’s efforts in selectively contacting potential buyers. Thus, the Director
Defendants knew that Dubreville did not contact any TSC competitors. Yet the
Director Defendants did nothing to remedy the situation they created by tasking an
interested purchaser with the sale of an asset of the Company. Instead, they
authorized further discussions with TSH and, on April 22, 2005, signed a letter of
intent for i2 to sell TSC to Dubreville and his group and, in doing so, missed
another opportunity to rectify the situation they had created.
In addition, the two sets of projections described in the Sonenshine
Document should have alerted the board to carefully consider whether Dubreville’s
offer was high enough.
The Directors Defendants knew that Sonenshine’s
preliminary valuation of TSC was based on projections provided by management,
Defendants argue that it is improper to impute knowledge of the VIS/ME offer to the entire
board that approved the TSC sale in 2005 because only Sidhu and Cash were directors in 2003
when VIS/ME offered to pay up to $25 million for TSC. Defendants concede that it may be a
reasonable inference that Sidhu and Cash relayed this information to the rest of the board at the
January 23, 2003 board meeting, but argue that five directors on the board in 2005 were not on
the board at the time of that meeting. When the board determined to sell TSC in December
2004, it may not be unreasonable to infer that Sidhu or Cash communicated the VIS/ME offer to
the other board members, but I do not need to make this determination. Instead, Dubreville’s
failure to contact VIS/ME is simply another example of a faulty process (i.e., one in which no
direct competitors were contacted) that was created by the Director Defendants when they
decided to place Dubreville in charge of the sale process, despite knowledge of Dubreville’s
interest in purchasing TSC himself.
which were prepared at the direction of Dubreville. The Director Defendants
therefore also knew that the valuation was calculated using these “buyer”
projections. The January projections valued TSC at $6 to $10.8 million. Even the
February projections, which plaintiff alleges were adjusted to make TSC appear
significantly less profitable than it was, valued TSC at $3 to $7 million. Despite
this, the board agreed to proceed with an offer of $3 million, which would only
ultimately result in a net gain of $2.2 million because of terms in the agreement
favorable to Dubreville. The entire offer of $3 million, not even considering its
ultimate net value, was at the lowest end of the valuation range of TSC using even
the February projections. 24
The board’s actions, to this point, are quite puzzling.
In making its
decisions, the board had no shortage of information that was both material—
because it affected the process and ultimate result of the sale—and reasonably
available (or, even, actually known as evidenced by the discussions at the board
Plaintiff alleges that the price at which TSC was sold to TSH in 2005 was merely a fraction of
its true value. In support of this contention, plaintiff alleges that, both before and after sale of
TSC to TSH, TSC was valued at prices significantly higher than that achieved in the 2005 sale:
in 2003, VIS/ME offered up to $25 million for TSC; in early 2006, TSH refused to sell TSC for
$18.5 million because it concluded that this price was too low; and, ultimately, TSC was sold in
2007 for $25 million. The “[f]airness of a price for selling assets must be judged in the light of
conditions as they exist at the time of sale disregarding subsequent events,” Marks v. Wolfson,
188 A.2d 680, 686 (Del. Ch. 1963) (internal citation omitted), and the Court is well aware that an
offer made in 2003 does not necessarily reflect the value of an asset in 2005. Though an
inadequate price may or may not indicate an inadequacy of process, here, the inadequacy of
process is clearly demonstrated by the Director Defendants’ failure to consider material, known
information, and so I need not consider the VIS/ME offer and the 2007 sale of TSC with respect
to the “true” value of TSC at the time the board approved the sale.
Dubreville’s interest in leading a management buyout of TSC;
Dubreville’s limited efforts in soliciting offers for TSC, including his failure to
contact TSC competitors, including one he knew had previously expressed
concrete interest in purchasing TSC; the circumstances under which the January
and February projections were produced; the use of those projections in
Sonenshine’s preliminary valuations of TSC; and that TSH was a group led by
Dubreville. That the board would want to consider this information seems, to me,
so obvious that it is equally obvious that the Directors Defendants’ failure to do so
was grossly negligent.
Finally, on June 28, 2008, the board and the special committee approved the
sale of TSC to Dubreville. As detailed above, plaintiff argues strenuously that the
Sonenshine fairness opinion was flawed and that the Director Defendants cannot
reasonably have relied on it. Because, however, I conclude that the Director
Defendants’ actions, culminating with the approval of the sale of TSC, were
grossly negligent, I need not further consider the board’s reliance on the
Sonenshine fairness opinion25 or the reliability of the opinion 26 in finding that
demand is excused as futile.
See Brehm, 746 A.2d at 262 (describing a board’s failure to consider material and reasonably
available information that was “so obvious” as grossly negligent “regardless of the expert’s
advice or lack of advice”) (emphasis added).
Cf. Ash v. McCall, No. 17132, 2000 WL 1370341, at *9 n.23 (Del. Ch. Sept. 15, 2000) (“If
these facts demonstrate anything, it is merely that [the accounting and financial advisors,]
Deloitte [and] Bear Sterns, and  management performed shoddy due diligence.”).
B. Failure to State a Claim
Though plaintiff has demonstrated that it would have been futile to make a
demand upon the board, plaintiff fails to state a claim against the Director
Defendants, who have the benefit of a section 102(b)(7) exculpatory provision in
the i2 certificate, because plaintiff has not adequately alleged that the Director
Defendants acted in bad faith. In contrast, however, plaintiff has stated a claim for
both breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment as to Dubreville. Dubreville,
though he, as an officer, owes the same duties to the Company as the Director
Defendants, does not benefit from the same protections as the Director Defendants
because the section 102(b)(7) provision operates to exculpate only directors, not
1. The 102(b)(7) Provision Exculpates the Director Defendants
As authorized by Section 102(b)(7),27 i2’s certificate of incorporation
contains an exculpatory provision, limiting the personal liability of directors for
certain conduct. 28 Certain conduct, however, cannot be exculpated, including bad
8 Del. C. § 102(b)(7).
The court may take judicial notice of the certificate in deciding a motion to dismiss. In re
Baxter Intern., Inc. S’holders Litig., 654 A.2d 1268, 1270 (Del. Ch. 1995) (citing In Re
Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. S’holders Litig., No. 11495, 1992 WL 212595 (Del. Ch. Sept. 1,
1992)). Article Tenth of i2’s restated certificate of incorporation provides, in part:
To the fullest extent permitted by the Delaware General Corporation law as the
same exists or as it may hereafter be amended, no director of the Corporation
shall be personally liable to the Corporation or its stockholders for monetary
damages for breach of fiduciary duty as a director.
Ex. C to Defs.’ Opening Br.
faith actions. 29 Gross negligence, in contrast, is exculpated because such conduct
breaches the duty of care. 30 Traditionally, “[i]n the duty of care context gross
negligence has been defined as ‘reckless indifference to or a deliberate disregard of
the whole body of stockholders or actions which are without the bounds of
Recently, however, the Supreme Court has modified Delaware’s
understanding of the definition of gross negligence in the context of fiduciary duty.
In analyzing “three different categories of fiduciary behavior [that] are candidates
for the ‘bad faith’ pejorative label,” 32 the Court made quite clear that gross
negligence cannot be such an example of bad faith conduct: “[t]here is no basis in
policy, precedent or common sense that would justify dismantling the distinction
between gross negligence and bad faith.” 33 Instead, the Court concluded that
conduct motivated by subjective bad intent and that resulting from gross
8 Del. C. § 102(b)(7)(ii) (prohibiting the elimination or limitation of a director’s liability for
“acts or omissions not in good faith or which involve intentional misconduct or a knowing
violation of law”).
See In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litig., 906 A.2d at 67 (“[Section 102(b)(7)(ii)]
exculpates directors only for conduct amounting to gross negligence”); id. at 65 (“Section
102(b)(7) of the DGCL . . . authorizes Delaware corporations, by a provision in the certificate of
incorporation, to exculpate their directors from monetary damage liability for a breach of the
duty of care.”).
Benihana of Tokyo, Inc. v. Benihana, Inc., 891 A.2d 150, 192 (Del. 2005) (citing Tomczak v.
Morton Thiokol, Inc., No. 7861, 1990 WL 42607, at *12 (Del. Ch. Apr. 5, 1990) (internal
In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litig., 906 A.2d at 64–65.
Id. at 66. See also id. at 64–65 (“[W]e address the issue of whether gross negligence
(including a failure to inform one’s self of available material facts), without more, can constitute
bad faith.” The answer is clearly no.”).
negligence are at opposite ends of the spectrum. 34 The Court then considered a
third category of conduct: the intentional dereliction of duty or the conscious
disregard for one’s responsibilities. 35 The Court determined that such misconduct
must be treated as a non-exculpable, non-indemnifiable violation of the fiduciary
duty to act in good faith, 36 a duty that the Court later confirmed was squarely
within the duty of loyalty. 37 Thus, from the sphere of actions that was once
classified as grossly negligent conduct that gives rise to a violation of the duty of
care, the Court has carved out one specific type of conduct—the intentional
dereliction of duty or the conscious disregard for one’s responsibilities—and
redefined it as bad faith conduct, which results in a breach of the duty of loyalty.
Therefore, Delaware’s current understanding of gross negligence is conduct that
constitutes reckless indifference or actions that are without the bounds of reason.
The conduct of the Director Defendants here fits precisely within this
revised understanding of gross negligence. In finding that demand is excused as
futile, I have already concluded that plaintiff has pleaded with particularity so as to
raise a reasonable doubt that the actions of the board were a product of the valid
exercise of their business judgment. Thus, for the reasons explained above, the
Id. at 64–65.
Id. at 66–68.
In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litig., 906 A.2d 27, 66 (Del. 2006).
Stone, 911 A.2d at 369–70 (quoting Guttman v. Huang, 823 A.2d 492, 506 n.34 (Del. Ch.
2003)). See also id. at 370 (“[T]he fiduciary duty of loyalty is not limited to cases involving a
financial or other cognizable fiduciary conflict of interest. It also encompasses cases where the
fiduciary fails to act in good faith.”).
Director Defendants’ actions, beginning with placing Dubreville in charge of the
sale process of TSC and continuing through their failure to act in any way so as to
ensure that the sale process employed was thorough and complete, are properly
characterized as either recklessly indifferent or unreasonable. Plaintiff has not,
however, sufficiently alleged that the Director Defendants acted in bad faith
through a conscious disregard for their duties. Instead, plaintiff has ably pleaded
that the Director Defendants quite clearly were not careful enough in the discharge
of their duties—that is, they acted with gross negligence or else reckless
indifference. Because such conduct breaches the Director Defendants’ duty of
care, this violation is exculpated by the Section 102(b)(7) provision in the
Company’s charter and therefore the Director Defendants’ motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim must be granted.
2. No Exculpatory Protection for Dubreville
At this point, I pause to note the perhaps unusual circumstances of this case.
Here, plaintiff has alleged with particularity that the Director Defendants breached
their duties of care so as to rebut the business judgment rule, thereby
demonstrating that demand is excused as futile.
The Company’s certificate,
however, contains an exculpatory provision authorized by Section 102(b)(7),
shielding the Director Defendants from liability for that conduct. 38
ordinarily, the motion to dismiss would be granted in its entirety. Here, however,
Dubreville also moves for dismissal pursuant to Rules 23.1 and 12(b)(6). 39 I have
already concluded that demand is excused as futile, meaning that plaintiff has the
right to prosecute this litigation on behalf of the Company. As decided above, the
case cannot go forward against the Director Defendants because they are
exculpated by virtue of the i2 certificate. As against Dubreville, however, the
claim for breach of fiduciary duty may, without a doubt, proceed.
Though an officer owes to the corporation identical fiduciary duties of care
and loyalty as owed by directors,40 an officer does not benefit from the protections
of a Section 102(b)(7) exculpatory provision, which are only available to
Benihana of Tokyo, Inc., 891 A.2d at 192 (citing In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litig., 907
A.2d at 750) (“Because duty of care violations are actionable only if the directors acted with
gross negligence, and because in most instances money damages are unavailable to a plaintiff
who theoretically could prove a duty of care violation, such violations are rarely found.”).
Dubreville is not represented by separate counsel; he and the Director Defendants share
counsel, though counsel argues in support of its motion that plaintiff’s complaint “amounts to a
tale of subterfuge” and fraud committed by Dubreville. Defs.’ Reply Br. at 17. If, as counsel
contends, “Plaintiff’s argument in his brief that the Board consciously disregarded their
responsibilities cannot be reconciled with his allegations in the Complaint about how Dubreville
allegedly concealed facts concerning the sale,” id. at 3, then surely also counsel cannot
simultaneously rely on the complaint’s assertions that Dubreville defrauded the board or was a
thief and also move for dismissal of the counts asserted against Dubreville.
Ryan v. Gifford, 935 A.2d 258, 269 (Del. Ch. 2007) (citing In re Walt Disney Co., No. 15452,
2004 WL 2050138, at *3 (Del. Ch. Sept. 10, 2004)) (“The fiduciary duties an officer owes to the
corporation ‘have been assumed to be identical to those of directors.’”). See also Lyman
Johnson, Recalling Why Corporate Officers Are Fiduciaries, 46 WM. & MARY L. REV. 1597
directors. 41 Thus, so long as plaintiff has alleged a violation of care or loyalty, the
complaint proceeds against Dubreville. Here, plaintiff has more than sufficiently
alleged a breach of fiduciary duty and defendants have done nothing to meet their
burden of demonstrating with reasonable certainty that, under any set of facts that
could be proven to support his claim for breach of fiduciary duty, plaintiff would
not be entitled to the relief sought. I have no difficulty in concluding, based on
plaintiff’s allegations of wrongdoing by Dubreville and defendants’ wholly
inadequate arguments, which explicitly concede that the complaint states a claim, 42
that the motion to dismiss Count I (breach of fiduciary duty) as to Dubreville must
C. Unjust Enrichment
Plaintiff alleges that, as a result of his manipulative conduct, Dubreville has
been unjustly enriched at the expense of the Company. Unjust enrichment is the
“unjust retention of a benefit to the loss of another, or the retention of money or
See 8 Del. C. § 102(b)(7) (“A provision eliminating or limiting the personal liability of a
director to the corporation or its stockholders for monetary damages for breach of fiduciary duty
as a director, provided that such provision shall not eliminate or limit the liability of a director
. . . .”) (emphasis added).
See, e.g., Defs.’ Reply Br. at 4 (“[T]he Plaintiff faults the Board for relying upon the
Sonenshine Fairness Opinion because the opinion included projections for TSC that Dubreville
allegedly manipulated downward.”); id. at 14 (“[T]he Complaint is more accurately described as
a tale of Dubreville intentionally hiding that information [about alternative offers].”); id. at 17
(arguing that, even if the sale price of TSC was a “steal,” the complaint asserts that Dubreville
was a “thief”); id. at 17–18 (“[T]he Complaint alleges a long list of Dubreville’s purported
efforts to conceal from i2 and Sonenshine facts about the actual value of TSC, and deliberately
mislead both the Board and Sonenshine about TSC’s actual worth.”) (citing paragraphs in the
property of another against the fundamental principles of justice or equity or good
Defendants’ sole argument is that an unjust enrichment claim
cannot lie against Dubreville because the parties’ rights are governed by a contract,
here, the letter of intent. 44 Defendants argue that this claim must be dismissed
because the sale of TSC was governed by a contract between Dubreville and the
Company and the contrast must be “the measure of [the] plaintiff’s right.” 45 This
argument neither makes it reasonably certain that plaintiff would not be entitled to
the relief sought nor squarely addresses the gravamen of plaintiff’s unjust
enrichment claim. Plaintiff alleges that it is the letter of intent, itself, that is the
unjust enrichment; that is, Dubreville’s manipulative conduct (which defendants
concede) 46 unjustly enriched him in the form of the contract for the sale of TSC to
TSH. Moreover, even if there is a contract between Dubreville and i2, which I do
not decide, defendants’ argument that plaintiff has conflated the unjust enrichment
claim and the breach of fiduciary claim is unavailing. If plaintiff has pleaded and
then prevails in demonstrating that the same conduct results in both liability for
breach of Dubreville’s fiduciary duties and disgorgement via unjust enrichment,
Fleer Corp. v. Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., 539 A.2d 1060, 1062 (Del. 1988).
Defendants do not otherwise challenge that plaintiff has stated a claim for unjust enrichment,
the elements of which are: (1) unjust enrichment; (2) an impoverishment; (3) a relation between
the enrichment and the impoverishment; (4) the absence of justification; and (5) the absence of a
remedy at law. Jackson Nat’l Life Ins. Co. v. Kennedy, 741 A.2d 377, 393 (Del. Ch. 1999)
(internal citation omitted).
See MetCap Securities LLC v. Pearl Senior Care, Inc., No. 2129-VCN, 2007 WL 1498989, at
*5 (May 16, 2007) (alteration in original and internal citations omitted).
See supra n.42.
plaintiff then will have to elect his remedies. But, at this time, defendants have
again wholly failed to satisfy their burden to justify dismissal of this count.
Therefore, defendants’ motion to dismiss the unjust enrichment claim is denied.
Though this board acted “badly”—with gross negligence—and in doing so
provided the basis for my denial of defendants’ motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
23.1, this board did not act in bad faith.
Therefore, with the benefit of the
protections of the Company’s exculpatory provision, the motion to dismiss Count I
(breach of fiduciary duty) pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) is granted as to the Director
Defendants. Defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion is, however, flatly denied as to
Dubreville as to Count I.
The motion is also denied as to Count II (unjust
IT IS SO ORDERED.