Diedenhofen-Lennartz v. Diedenhofen, 2007 WL 2296828 (Del. Ch., Aug. 8, 2007), read opinion here. This case involves a Motion to Dismiss in favor of earlier-filed actions already pending in the courts of Germany, Canada and California, based on the familiar McWane doctrine. [McWane Cast Iron Pipe Corp. v. McDowell-Wellman Engineering Co., 263 A.2d 281 (Del. 1970).] The Court explains in great detail the intricate and multi-faceted aspects of the parties’ disputes and the multiple pending lawsuits among the same parties in various jurisdictions and countries.
However, the Court imposed restrictions on the defendant to avoid making the plaintiff suffer from what the Court referred to as “gamesmanship.” The Court was clear not to premise its ruling on forum non conveniens grounds. Thus, the Court did not need to address the serious policy considerations, based on which Chancery has refused to defer to similar pending cases in other jurisdictions when important issues of Delaware law were at stake, as recently analysed in decisions such as Ryan v. Gifford, 918 A.2d 341, 349-50 (Del. Ch. 2007) (See brief summary of case on blog here). One of the restrictions that the Chancery Court imposed as part of its decision to stay this matter is that the defendant, who is a Delaware resident, submit to the personal jurisdiction of the courts in Canada and Germany, in which cases against defendant are pending, and which the defendant argued are the fora which should be given preference instead of the current Chancery case proceeding. The Court also required that the defendant accept the determinations of those courts as to where the plaintiffs’ claims should proceed. The Court provided for those terms in its order so that the defendant would not gain any unfair delay by “having this Court defer to previously filed litigation, only then to claim she (defendant in the Chancery case) cannot be sued in those fora.”
One of the considerations by the Court in its McWane analysis was the extensive documentation that was in German and the alleged challenges that would be encountered in the contested translations in terms of many of the provisions of the agreement at issue, and how those provisions interfaced with the applicable German legal concepts.