In Gatz v. Ponsoldt, (Del. Supr., April 16, 2007), read opinion here, the Delaware Supreme Court, en banc, reversed a decision of the Chancery Court (summarized on this blog here, and cited as Gatz v. Ponsoldt, 2006 WL 1510467 (Del. Ch. 2006)), on the basis that the claim presented was not exclusively derivative and, therefore, could be brought directly. The prior procedural history of the case is somewhat lengthy, but most recently the Chancery Court had dismissed the case for not satisfying the pre-suit demand requirements of Rule 23.1 as required for derivative cases.
This opinion issued today emphasizes that the Chancery Court’s decision was based (naturally) on "then-existing case law" but after that Chancery opinion was issued, the Delaware Supreme Court decided Gentile v. Rossette, 906 A.2d. 91 (Del. 2006), summarized on this blog here, which, as the Supreme Court wrote at page 2:
"bore importantly on the issue of whether the dismissed claims were derivative, direct or both. Having heard the parties on the impact of Rossette, we conclude that the claims before us are not exclusively derivative and could be brought directly."
Today’s opinion by the High Court is 35-pages long and it deserves much more thorough discussion and analysis than the press of client matters will allow me to perform now, but I wanted to make this very important decision that came out today available for those who have the time to download and read the whole decision at the above link. I am confident that many learned colleagues and professors will provide insightful commentary soon, and I plan to link that commentary to this blog soon after it appears.
UPDATE: Fortunately, Professor Bainbridge provides here thoughtful insights on the case, including quotes and commentary about the references by the court to equity’s elevation of substance over form, as compared with prior writings by Justice Jacobs (the author of this case) and Vice Chancellor Strine on the topic, as well as reference to prior Delaware cases recognizing the "equal dignity" of different parts of the DGCL.
UPDATE II: Thanks for the learned and helpful comments by readers posted below.