In Greetham v. Sogima L-A Manager, LLC, et al., 2008 Del. Ch. LEXIS (Nov. 3, 2008), read opinion here, the Delaware Chancery Court addressed three legal issues that are of substantial practical importance in many corporate and commercial litigation cases, and the court’s rulings are also useful tools for the toolbox of those who labor in the fields of business litigation.
First, the court upheld a clause in an agreement that made Delaware law govern any issues that arose, and that also required the parties to litigate in Delaware Chancery Court. In addition to cases cited in support for this well-recognized position in Delaware, reference was made to the specific Delaware statute that provides authority for allowing parties to consent to the jurisdiction of the Delaware courts as long as at least $100,000 is in dispute. See Section 2708 of Title 6 of the Delaware Code.
Second, the court determined that the irreducible minimum elements of an enforceable contract were not evident in the record after trial and therefore the court rejected the contract claim. Notably, the court recognized that customs in a particular industry and/or prior practice of the parties may in some instances serve as evidence of "missing terms" in an agreement.
Finally, the court recited the elements of promissory estoppel and found them wanting.
In an abbreviated and conclusory fashion, the factual basis of this case, which was extensively described by the court, began with a group of eight people who started a company that was to invest in municipal tax liens. However, among the problems that arose was the failure of the parties to confirm in writing all the terms of all the various additional "agreements" that were allegedly intended to "flesh out" the details of each of the roles that the parties would play in their venture. In addition, not all the parties who were required to contribute capital had that capital available at the time of closing on the deal.
The court also rejected an "unclean hands" defense.