In Pershing Square, L.P. v. Ceridian Corp., 2007 WL 1428444 (Del. Ch., May 11, 2007), read opinion here, the Chancery Court, after a trial, denied a request by an hedge fund/shareholder for documents under DGCL Section 220 based on a failure to satisfy the "proper purpose" requirement. Notably, the complaint was filed on March 7 and after expedited discovery, a trial was held on April 11.
Despite the stated purpose for the requested executive communications with board members, the court found that the "real" purpose was improper–i.e., they wanted to publicize confidential information improperly obtained. Thus, the court concluded that despite the stated purpose as being ostensibly proper, the court determined the "real purpose" after trial, and prohibited the shareholder from accessing and publishing the confidential executive communications that they sought. The court reasoned that such disclosure would chill valuable communications between executives and board members–a harm that outweighs the benefits of disclosure under the circumstances.
Many Delaware Chancery and Supreme Court cases on DGCL Section 220 issues have been summarized on this blog, but this opinion is as thorough as any in analyzing the nuances and policy aspects involved in a shareholder pursuing and in a company defending a claim for books and records under DGCL Section 220.