LDC 650499 10 v. <<

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

R Investments, LDC, Plaintiff–Respondent, 650499/10 v.

Carl C. Icahn, et al., Defendants–Appellants.  Youlu Zheng, et al., Plaintiffs–Respondents, v. Carl C. Icahn, et al., Defendants–Appellants.

1229 5 2

Decided: May 29, 2014

Tom, J.P., Renwick, Richter, Feinman, Gische, JJ.

Law Offices of Herbert Beigel, New York (Herbert Beigel of counsel), for Carl c. Icahn, Carl J. Grivner, Vincent Intrieri, Keith Meister, Peter Shea, David S. Schechter, Harold First, Daniel A. Ninivaggi, Arnos Corporation, High River Limited Partnership, ACF Industries Holding Corporation, Starfire Holding Corporation, Arnos Sub Corp., Barberry Corp., XO Merger Corp. and XO Holdings, Inc., appellants.

Berg & Androphy, Houston, TX (Christopher L. Gadoury of the bar of the State of Texas, admitted pro hac vice, of counsel), for Adam Dell, Fredrik Gradin and Robert Knauss, appellants.

Zeichner Ellman & Krause LLP, New York (Jeff Ross of counsel), for R Investments, LDC, respondent.

Abbey Spanier, LLP, New York (Judith L. Spanier of counsel), for Youlu Zheng and Donald J. Hillenmeyer, respondents.

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Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Charles E. Ramos, J.), entered January 30, 2013, which, insofar as appealed from, denied defendants' motions for summary judgment and defendants' motions to dismiss the breach of fiduciary duty claims, unanimously modified, on the law, to dismiss the claims against defendants Dell, Gradin and Knauss, and otherwise affirmed, without costs.

The motion court properly declined to dismiss the direct claims relating to nominal defendant XO Holdings Inc.'s (XO) merger in 2011, since plaintiffs allege fiduciary breaches that go beyond issues relating to factors of valuation or the mere inadequacy of the merger price, and adequately assert a nexus between defendants' alleged fiduciary breaches and the merger (see Rabkin v. Hunt Chem. Corp., 498 A.2d 1099, 1106–1107 [Del 1985];  Nymex Shareholder Litig. v New York Mercantile Exch., Inc., 2009 WL 3206051, *10, 2009 Del Ch LEXIS 176, *38–39 [Del Ch 2009] ).

The motion court also properly declined to dismiss the breach of fiduciary duty claims regarding the 2008 transactions resulting in XO's recapitalization.   Contrary to defendants' contention that plaintiffs have no cognizable direct claims in connection with these transactions and that any such claims can only be derivative claims no longer actionable by plaintiffs, who are former shareholders following the 2011 merger, plaintiffs' allegations that their voting rights were diluted as a result of the recapitalization that made defendant Carl Icahn a shareholder with “super voting rights” are sufficient for the challenged claims to survive the motions to dismiss (see In re Loral Space & Communications Inc. Consol.   Litig., 2008 WL 4293781, *1–3, 2008 Del Ch LEXIS 136 [Del Ch 2008];  Oliver v. Boston Univ., 2006 WL 1064169, *17, 2006 Del Ch LEXIS 75, *76 [Del Ch 2006] ).

The motion court properly applied Delaware's “entire fairness” standard of review to the breach of fiduciary duty claims regarding the 2008 recapitalization (Americas Mining Corp. v. Theriault, 51 A3d 1213, 1239 [Del 2012];  Loral Space & Communications, 2008 WL 4293781, *21 2008 Del Ch LEXIS 136, *71–75).   It also correctly determined that the burden of persuasion remains with defendants and that the record does not allow for a conclusion on summary judgment that the challenged transactions satisfy the entire fairness standard.

The court, however, should have dismissed the claims against the members of XO's special committee, defendants Dell, Gradin and Knauss.   As conceded by respondent at oral argument, XO's Certificate of Incorporation exculpates directors for breaches of fiduciary duty except under limited circumstances not alleged by plaintiffs here (see Delaware General Corporation Law § 102[b][7];  Emerald Partners v. Berlin, 787 A.2d 85, 92 [Del 2001];  Dirienzo v. Lichtenstein, 2013 WL 5503034, *10–*13, 2013 Del Ch LEXIS 242, *33–*43 [Del Ch 2013], lv denied 80 A3d 959 [Del 2013] ).

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER

OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

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CLERK