Delaware will retain jurisdiction over a dissolution claim notwithstanding a mandatory New York forum selection clause, according to the recent Delaware Court of Chancery opinion in Seokoh, Inc. v. Lard-PT, LLC, C.A. No. 2020-0613-JRS (Del. Ch. March 30, 2021). This case involved the petition for dissolution of a Delaware LLC while litigation between the parties also was filed in New York. The LLC agreement had a deadlock provision but it was not effective for resolving the parties’ dispute. For example, there was no formula or deadline for a buyout.
Several important statements of Delaware law make this 45-page decision noteworthy (and blogworthy), as well as well-worth the time to read the whole opinion for those who need to know the latest iteration of Delaware law on the following topics:
- Although Delaware courts generally enforce forum selection clauses, even when they require disputes to be litigated in a foreign forum–this is a notable exception: when a petition for dissolution of a Delaware LLC is filed pursuant to Section 18-802 of the Delaware LLC Act. See footnote 43. (The parties in this case agreed to the foregoing exception and the Court noted that they were correct in doing so.)
- This opinion features a useful recitation of the factors the court will consider under Section 18-802 in order to determine if the statutory prerequisites for an LLC dissolution have been satisfied. See Slip op. at 24 to 27 and footnotes 119 to 128.
A recent blog post highlighted on these pages featured another Chancery decision addressing a deadlock in an LLC that formed the basis of a dissolution petition.