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Board of Directors
  • 1 DGCL Sec. 141

    1
    TITLE 8
    2
    Corporations
    3
    CHAPTER 1. GENERAL CORPORATION LAW
    4 5 6

    (a) The business and affairs of every corporation organized under this chapter shall be managed by or under the direction of a board of directors, except as may be otherwise provided in this chapter or in its certificate of incorporation. If any such provision is made in the certificate of incorporation, the powers and duties conferred or imposed upon the board of directors by this chapter shall be exercised or performed to such extent and by such person or persons as shall be provided in the certificate of incorporation.

    7

    (b) The board of directors of a corporation shall consist of 1 or more members, each of whom shall be a natural person. The number of directors shall be fixed by, or in the manner provided in, the bylaws, unless the certificate of incorporation fixes the number of directors, in which case a change in the number of directors shall be made only by amendment of the certificate. Directors need not be stockholders unless so required by the certificate of incorporation or the bylaws. The certificate of incorporation or bylaws may prescribe other qualifications for directors. Each director shall hold office until such director's successor is elected and qualified or until such director's earlier resignation or removal. Any director may resign at any time upon notice given in writing or by electronic transmission to the corporation. A resignation is effective when the resignation is delivered unless the resignation specifies a later effective date or an effective date determined upon the happening of an event or events. A resignation which is conditioned upon the director failing to receive a specified vote for reelection as a director may provide that it is irrevocable. A majority of the total number of directors shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business unless the certificate of incorporation or the bylaws require a greater number. Unless the certificate of incorporation provides otherwise, the bylaws may provide that a number less than a majority shall constitute a quorum which in no case shall be less than 1/3 of the total number of directors except that when a board of 1 director is authorized under this section, then 1 director shall constitute a quorum. The vote of the majority of the directors present at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the board of directors unless the certificate of incorporation or the bylaws shall require a vote of a greater number.

    8

    (c)(1) All corporations incorporated prior to July 1, 1996, shall be governed by this paragraph (c)(1) of this section, provided that any such corporation may by a resolution adopted by a majority of the whole board elect to be governed by paragraph (c)(2) of this section, in which case this paragraph (c)(1) of this section shall not apply to such corporation. All corporations incorporated on or after July 1, 1996, shall be governed by paragraph (c)(2) of this section. The board of directors may, by resolution passed by a majority of the whole board, designate 1 or more committees, each committee to consist of 1 or more of the directors of the corporation. The board may designate 1 or more directors as alternate members of any committee, who may replace any absent or disqualified member at any meeting of the committee. The bylaws may provide that in the absence or disqualification of a member of a committee, the member or members present at any meeting and not disqualified from voting, whether or not the member or members present constitute a quorum, may unanimously appoint another member of the board of directors to act at the meeting in the place of any such absent or disqualified member. Any such committee, to the extent provided in the resolution of the board of directors, or in the bylaws of the corporation, shall have and may exercise all the powers and authority of the board of directors in the management of the business and affairs of the corporation, and may authorize the seal of the corporation to be affixed to all papers which may require it; but no such committee shall have the power or authority in reference to amending the certificate of incorporation (except that a committee may, to the extent authorized in the resolution or resolutions providing for the issuance of shares of stock adopted by the board of directors as provided in § 151(a) of this title, fix the designations and any of the preferences or rights of such shares relating to dividends, redemption, dissolution, any distribution of assets of the corporation or the conversion into, or the exchange of such shares for, shares of any other class or classes or any other series of the same or any other class or classes of stock of the corporation or fix the number of shares of any series of stock or authorize the increase or decrease of the shares of any series), adopting an agreement of merger or consolidation under § 251, § 252, § 254, § 255, § 256, § 257, § 258, § 263 or § 264 of this title, recommending to the stockholders the sale, lease or exchange of all or substantially all of the corporation's property and assets, recommending to the stockholders a dissolution of the corporation or a revocation of a dissolution, or amending the bylaws of the corporation; and, unless the resolution, bylaws or certificate of incorporation expressly so provides, no such committee shall have the power or authority to declare a dividend, to authorize the issuance of stock or to adopt a certificate of ownership and merger pursuant to § 253 of this title.

    9

    (2) The board of directors may designate 1 or more committees, each committee to consist of 1 or more of the directors of the corporation. The board may designate 1 or more directors as alternate members of any committee, who may replace any absent or disqualified member at any meeting of the committee. The bylaws may provide that in the absence or disqualification of a member of a committee, the member or members present at any meeting and not disqualified from voting, whether or not such member or members constitute a quorum, may unanimously appoint another member of the board of directors to act at the meeting in the place of any such absent or disqualified member. Any such committee, to the extent provided in the resolution of the board of directors, or in the bylaws of the corporation, shall have and may exercise all the powers and authority of the board of directors in the management of the business and affairs of the corporation, and may authorize the seal of the corporation to be affixed to all papers which may require it; but no such committee shall have the power or authority in reference to the following matter: (i) approving or adopting, or recommending to the stockholders, any action or matter (other than the election or removal of directors) expressly required by this chapter to be submitted to stockholders for approval or (ii) adopting, amending or repealing any bylaw of the corporation.

    10

    (3) Unless otherwise provided in the certificate of incorporation, the bylaws or the resolution of the board of directors designating the committee, a committee may create 1 or more subcommittees, each subcommittee to consist of 1 or more members of the committee, and delegate to a subcommittee any or all of the powers and authority of the committee.

    11

    (d) The directors of any corporation organized under this chapter may, by the certificate of incorporation or by an initial bylaw, or by a bylaw adopted by a vote of the stockholders, be divided into 1, 2 or 3 classes; the term of office of those of the first class to expire at the first annual meeting held after such classification becomes effective; of the second class 1 year thereafter; of the third class 2 years thereafter; and at each annual election held after such classification becomes effective, directors shall be chosen for a full term, as the case may be, to succeed those whose terms expire. The certificate of incorporation or bylaw provision dividing the directors into classes may authorize the board of directors to assign members of the board already in office to such classes at the time such classification becomes effective. The certificate of incorporation may confer upon holders of any class or series of stock the right to elect 1 or more directors who shall serve for such term, and have such voting powers as shall be stated in the certificate of incorporation. The terms of office and voting powers of the directors elected separately by the holders of any class or series of stock may be greater than or less than those of any other director or class of directors. In addition, the certificate of incorporation may confer upon 1 or more directors, whether or not elected separately by the holders of any class or series of stock, voting powers greater than or less than those of other directors. Any such provision conferring greater or lesser voting power shall apply to voting in any committee or subcommittee, unless otherwise provided in the certificate of incorporation or bylaws. If the certificate of incorporation provides that 1 or more directors shall have more or less than 1 vote per director on any matter, every reference in this chapter to a majority or other proportion of the directors shall refer to a majority or other proportion of the votes of the directors.

    12

    (e) A member of the board of directors, or a member of any committee designated by the board of directors, shall, in the performance of such member's duties, be fully protected in relying in good faith upon the records of the corporation and upon such information, opinions, reports or statements presented to the corporation by any of the corporation's officers or employees, or committees of the board of directors, or by any other person as to matters the member reasonably believes are within such other person's professional or expert competence and who has been selected with reasonable care by or on behalf of the corporation.

    13

    (f) Unless otherwise restricted by the certificate of incorporation or bylaws, any action required or permitted to be taken at any meeting of the board of directors or of any committee thereof may be taken without a meeting if all members of the board or committee, as the case may be, consent thereto in writing, or by electronic transmission and the writing or writings or electronic transmission or transmissions are filed with the minutes of proceedings of the board, or committee. Such filing shall be in paper form if the minutes are maintained in paper form and shall be in electronic form if the minutes are maintained in electronic form.

    14

    (g) Unless otherwise restricted by the certificate of incorporation or bylaws, the board of directors of any corporation organized under this chapter may hold its meetings, and have an office or offices, outside of this State.

    15

    (h) Unless otherwise restricted by the certificate of incorporation or bylaws, the board of directors shall have the authority to fix the compensation of directors.

    16

    (i) Unless otherwise restricted by the certificate of incorporation or bylaws, members of the board of directors of any corporation, or any committee designated by the board, may participate in a meeting of such board, or committee by means of conference telephone or other communications equipment by means of which all persons participating in the meeting can hear each other, and participation in a meeting pursuant to this subsection shall constitute presence in person at the meeting.

    17

    (j) The certificate of incorporation of any nonstock corporation may provide that less than 1/3 of the members of the governing body may constitute a quorum thereof and may otherwise provide that the business and affairs of the corporation shall be managed in a manner different from that provided in this section. Except as may be otherwise provided by the certificate of incorporation, this section shall apply to such a corporation, and when so applied, all references to the board of directors, to members thereof, and to stockholders shall be deemed to refer to the governing body of the corporation, the members thereof and the members of the corporation, respectively; and all references to stock, capital stock, or shares thereof shall be deemed to refer to memberships of a nonprofit nonstock corporation and to membership interests of any other nonstock corporation.

    18

    (k) Any director or the entire board of directors may be removed, with or without cause, by the holders of a majority of the shares then entitled to vote at an election of directors, except as follows:

    19

    (1) Unless the certificate of incorporation otherwise provides, in the case of a corporation whose board is classified as provided in subsection (d) of this section, stockholders may effect such removal only for cause; or

    20

    (2) In the case of a corporation having cumulative voting, if less than the entire board is to be removed, no director may be removed without cause if the votes cast against such director's removal would be sufficient to elect such director if then cumulatively voted at an election of the entire board of directors, or, if there be classes of directors, at an election of the class of directors of which such director is a part.

    21

    Whenever the holders of any class or series are entitled to elect 1 or more directors by the certificate of incorporation, this subsection shall apply, in respect to the removal without cause of a director or directors so elected, to the vote of the holders of the outstanding shares of that class or series and not to the vote of the outstanding shares as a whole.

    22

    8 Del. C. 1953, § 141; 56 Del. Laws, c. 5056 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 357 Del. Laws, c. 148, §§ 5, 657 Del. Laws, c. 421, § 159 Del. Laws, c. 437, §§ 2-564 Del. Laws, c. 112, § 665 Del. Laws, c. 127, § 366 Del. Laws, c. 136, §§ 2, 370 Del. Laws, c. 79, § 770 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 170 Del. Laws, c. 349, § 2;71 Del. Laws, c. 339, §§ 11-1372 Del. Laws, c. 343, §§ 4-673 Del. Laws, c. 298, § 274 Del. Laws, c. 84, § 274 Del. Laws, c. 326, § 275 Del. Laws, c. 30, § 175 Del. Laws, c. 306, §§ 3, 476 Del. Laws, c. 145, § 177 Del. Laws, c. 253, §§ 10-12.;

  • 2 Aronson v. Lewis

    Statement of the Business Judgment Rule

    1
    473 A.2d 805 (1984)
    2
    Senior ARONSON, et al., Defendants Below, Appellants,
    v.
    Harry LEWIS, Plaintiff Below, Appellee.
    3

    Supreme Court of Delaware.
    Submitted: November 14, 1983.
    Decided: March 1, 1984.

    4

    William T. Quillen (argued), Robert K. Payson, Peter M. Sieglaff, Potter, Anderson & Corroon, Wilmington; and Allan M. Pepper, Michael D. Braff, Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler, New York City, for appellants.

    5

    Joseph A. Rosenthal (argued), Morris & Rosenthal, P.A., Wilmington; and Irving Bizar, Pincus, Ohrenstein, Bizar, D'Alessandro & Solomon, New York City, for appellee.

    6

    Before McNEILLY, MOORE and CHRISTIE, JJ.

    7
    [807] MOORE, Justice:
    8

    In the wake of Zapata Corp. v. Maldonado, Del.Supr., 430 A.2d 779 (1981), this Court left a crucial issue unanswered: when is a stockholder's demand upon a board of directors, to redress an alleged wrong to the corporation, excused as futile prior to the filing of a derivative suit? We granted this interlocutory appeal to the defendants, Meyers Parking System, Inc. (Meyers), a Delaware corporation, and its directors, to review the Court of Chancery's denial of their motion to dismiss this action, pursuant to Chancery Rule 23.1, for the [808] plaintiff's failure to make such a demand or otherwise demonstrate its futility.[1] The Vice Chancellor ruled that plaintiff's allegations raised a "reasonable inference" that the directors' action was unprotected by the business judgment rule. Thus, the board could not have impartially considered and acted upon the demand. See Lewis v. Aronson, Del.Ch., 466 A.2d 375, 381 (1983).

    9

    We cannot agree with this formulation of the concept of demand futility. In our view demand can only be excused where facts are alleged with particularity which create a reasonable doubt that the directors' action was entitled to the protections of the business judgment rule. Because the plaintiff failed to make a demand, and to allege facts with particularity indicating that such demand would be futile, we reverse the Court of Chancery and remand with instructions that plaintiff be granted leave to amend the complaint.

    10
    I.
    11

    The issues of demand futility rest upon the allegations of the complaint. The plaintiff, Harry Lewis, is a stockholder of Meyers. The defendants are Meyers and its ten directors, some of whom are also company officers.

    12

    In 1979, Prudential Building Maintenance Corp. (Prudential) spun off its shares of Meyers to Prudential's stockholders. Prior thereto Meyers was a wholly owned subsidiary of Prudential. Meyers provides parking lot facilities and related services throughout the country. Its stock is actively traded over-the-counter.

    13

    This suit challenges certain transactions between Meyers and one of its directors, Leo Fink, who owns 47% of its outstanding stock. Plaintiff claims that these transactions were approved only because Fink personally selected each director and officer of Meyers.[2]

    14

    Prior to January 1, 1981, Fink had an employment agreement with Prudential which provided that upon retirement he was to become a consultant to that company for ten years. This provision became operable when Fink retired in April 1980.[3] Thereafter, Meyers agreed with Prudential to share Fink's consulting services and reimburse Prudential for 25% of the fees paid Fink. Under this arrangement Meyers paid Prudential $48,332 in 1980 and $45,832 in 1981.

    15

    On January 1, 1981, the defendants approved an employment agreement between Meyers and Fink for a five year term with provision for automatic renewal each year thereafter, indefinitely. Meyers agreed to pay Fink $150,000 per year, plus a bonus of 5% of its pre-tax profits over $2,400,000. Fink could terminate the contract at any time, but Meyers could do so only upon six months' notice. At termination, Fink was to become a consultant to Meyers and be paid $150,000 per year for the first three years, $125,000 for the next three years, and $100,000 thereafter for life. Death benefits were also included. Fink agreed to devote his best efforts and substantially his entire business time to advancing Meyers' interests. The agreement also provided [809] that Fink's compensation was not to be affected by any inability to perform services on Meyers' behalf. Fink was 75 years old when his employment agreement with Meyers was approved by the directors. There is no claim that he was, or is, in poor health.

    16

    Additionally, the Meyers board approved and made interest-free loans to Fink totalling $225,000. These loans were unpaid and outstanding as of August 1982 when the complaint was filed. At oral argument defendants' counsel represented that these loans had been repaid in full.

    17

    The complaint charges that these transactions had "no valid business purpose", and were a "waste of corporate assets" because the amounts to be paid are "grossly excessive", that Fink performs "no or little services", and because of his "advanced age" cannot be "expected to perform any such services". The plaintiff also charges that the existence of the Prudential consulting agreement with Fink prevents him from providing his "best efforts" on Meyers' behalf. Finally, it is alleged that the loans to Fink were in reality "additional compensation" without any "consideration" or "benefit" to Meyers.

    18

    The complaint alleged that no demand had been made on the Meyers board because:

    19
    13. ... such attempt would be futile for the following reasons:
    20
    (a) All of the directors in office are named as defendants herein and they have participated in, expressly approved and/or acquiesced in, and are personally liable for, the wrongs complained of herein.
    21
    (b) Defendant Fink, having selected each director, controls and dominates every member of the Board and every officer of Meyers.
    22
    (c) Institution of this action by present directors would require the defendant-directors to sue themselves, thereby placing the conduct of this action in hostile hands and preventing its effective prosecution.
    23

    Complaint, at ¶ 13.

    24

    The relief sought included the cancellation of the Meyers-Fink employment contract and an accounting by the directors, including Fink, for all damage sustained by Meyers and for all profits derived by the directors and Fink.

    25
    II.
    26

    Defendants moved to dismiss for plaintiff's failure to make demand on the Meyers board prior to suit, or to allege with factual particularity why demand is excused. See Del.Ch.Ct.R. 23.1, supra.

    27

    After recounting the allegations, the trial judge noted that the demand requirement of Rule 23.1 is a rule of substantive right designed to give a corporation the opportunity to rectify an alleged wrong without litigation, and to control any litigation which does arise. Lewis, 466 A.2d at 380. According to the Vice Chancellor, the test of futility is "whether the Board, at the time of the filing of the suit, could have impartially considered and acted upon the demand". Id. at 381.

    28

    As part of this formulation, the trial judge stated that interestedness is one factor affecting impartiality, and indicated that the business judgment rule is a potential defense to allegations of director interest, and hence, demand futility. Id. However, the court observed that to establish demand futility, a plaintiff need not allege that the challenged transaction could never be deemed a product of business judgment. Id. Rather, the Vice Chancellor maintained that a plaintiff "must only allege facts which, if true, show that there is a reasonable inference that the business judgment rule is not applicable for purposes of considering a pre-suit demand pursuant to Rule 23.1". Id. The court concluded that this transaction permitted such an inference. Id. at 384-86.

    29

    Upon these formulations, the Court of Chancery addressed the plaintiff's arguments [810] as to the futility of demand. Id. at 381-84. The trial judge correctly noted that futility is gauged by the circumstances existing at the commencement of a derivative suit. This disposed of plaintiff's argument that defendants' motion to dismiss established board hostility and the futility of demand. Id. at 381.

    30

    The Vice Chancellor then dealt with plaintiff's contention that Fink, as a 47% shareholder of Meyers, dominated and controlled each director, thereby making demand futile. Id. at 381-83. Plaintiff also argued that Fink's interest, when combined with the shareholdings of four other defendants, amounted to 57.5% of Meyers' outstanding shares. Id. at 381. After noting the presumptions under the business judgment rule that a board's actions are taken in good faith and in the best interests of the corporation, the Court of Chancery ruled that mere board approval of a transaction benefiting a substantial, but non-majority, shareholder will not overcome the presumption of propriety. Id. at 382. Specifically, the court observed that:

    31
    A plaintiff, to properly allege domination of the Board, particularly domination based on ownership of less than a majority of the corporation's stock, in order to excuse a pre-suit demand, must allege ownership plus other facts evidencing control to demonstrate that the Board could not have exercised its independent business judgment.
    32

    Id.

    33

    As to the combined 57.5% control claim, the court stated that there were no factual allegations regarding the alignment of the four directors with Fink, such as a claim that they were beneficiaries of the Meyers-Fink agreement. Id. at 382, 383. Because it was not alleged in the complaint, the court rejected plaintiff's argument that, as evidence of alignment with Fink, two of the directors have "similar" compensation agreements with Meyers. Id. at 383.

    34

    Turning to plaintiff's allegations of board approval, participation in, and/or acquiescence in the wrong, the trial court focused on the underlying transaction to determine whether the board's action was wrongful and not protected by the business judgment rule. Id. [citing Dann v. Chrysler, Del.Ch., 174 A.2d 696 (1961)]. The Vice Chancellor indicated that if the underlying transaction supported a reasonable inference that the business judgment rule did not apply, then the directors who approved the transaction were potentially liable for a breach of their fiduciary duty, and thus, could not impartially consider a stockholder's demand. Id.

    35

    The trial court then stated that board approval of the Meyers-Fink agreement, allowing Fink's consultant compensation to remain unaffected by his ability to perform any services, may have been a transaction wasteful on its face. Id. [citing Fidanque v. American Maracaibo Co., Del.Ch., 92 A.2d 311 (1952)]. Consequently, demand was excused as futile, because the Meyers' directors faced potential liability for waste and could not have impartially considered the demand. Id. at 384.

    36
    III.
    37

    The defendants make two arguments, one policy-oriented and the other, factual. First, they assert that the demand requirement embraces the policy that directors, rather than stockholders, manage the affairs of the corporation. They contend that this fundamental principle requires the strict construction and enforcement of Chancery Rule 23.1. Second, the defendants point to four of plaintiff's basic allegations and argue that they lack the factual particularity necessary to excuse demand. Concerning the allegation that Fink dominated and controlled the Meyers board, the defendants point to the absence of any facts explaining how he "selected each director". With respect to Fink's 47% stock interest, the defendants say that absent other facts this is insufficient to indicate domination and control. Regarding the claim of hostility to the plaintiff's suit, because defendants would have to sue themselves, the latter assert that this bootstrap argument ignores the possibility that the directors have other [811] alternatives, such as cancelling the challenged agreement. As for the allegation that directorial approval of the agreement excused demand, the defendants reply that such a claim is insufficient, because it would obviate the demand requirement in almost every case. The effect would be to subvert the managerial power of a board of directors. Finally, as to the provision guaranteeing Fink's compensation, even if he is unable to perform any services, the defendants contend that the trial court read this out of context. Based upon the foregoing, the defendants conclude that the plaintiff's allegations fall far short of the factual particularity required by Rule 23.1.

    38
    IV.
    39
    A.
    40

    A cardinal precept of the General Corporation Law of the State of Delaware is that directors, rather than shareholders, manage the business and affairs of the corporation. 8 Del.C. § 141(a). Section 141(a) states in pertinent part:

    41
    "The business and affairs of a corporation organized under this chapter shall be managed by or under the direction of a board of directors except as may be otherwise provided in this chapter or in its certificate of incorporation."
    42

    8 Del.C. § 141(a) (Emphasis added). The existence and exercise of this power carries with it certain fundamental fiduciary obligations to the corporation and its shareholders.[4] Loft, Inc. v. Guth, Del.Ch., 2 A.2d 225 (1938), aff'd, Del.Supr., 5 A.2d 503 (1939). Moreover, a stockholder is not powerless to challenge director action which results in harm to the corporation. The machinery of corporate democracy and the derivative suit are potent tools to redress the conduct of a torpid or unfaithful management. The derivative action developed in equity to enable shareholders to sue in the corporation's name where those in control of the company refused to assert a claim belonging to it. The nature of the action is two-fold. First, it is the equivalent of a suit by the shareholders to compel the corporation to sue. Second, it is a suit by the corporation, asserted by the shareholders on its behalf, against those liable to it.

    43

    By its very nature the derivative action impinges on the managerial freedom of directors.[5] Hence, the demand requirement of Chancery Rule 23.1 exists at the threshold, first to insure that a stockholder exhausts his intracorporate remedies, and [812] then to provide a safeguard against strike suits. Thus, by promoting this form of alternate dispute resolution, rather than immediate recourse to litigation, the demand requirement is a recognition of the fundamental precept that directors manage the business and affairs of corporations.

    44

    In our view the entire question of demand futility is inextricably bound to issues of business judgment and the standards of that doctrine's applicability. The business judgment rule is an acknowledgment of the managerial prerogatives of Delaware directors under Section 141(a). See Zapata Corp. v. Maldonado, 430 A.2d at 782. It is a presumption that in making a business decision the directors of a corporation acted on an informed basis, in good faith and in the honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the company. Kaplan v. Centex Corp., Del.Ch., 284 A.2d 119, 124 (1971); Robinson v. Pittsburgh Oil Refinery Corp., Del.Ch., 126 A. 46 (1924). Absent an abuse of discretion, that judgment will be respected by the courts. The burden is on the party challenging the decision to establish facts rebutting the presumption. See Puma v. Marriott, Del.Ch., 283 A.2d 693, 695 (1971).

    45

    The function of the business judgment rule is of paramount significance in the context of a derivative action. It comes into play in several ways — in addressing a demand, in the determination of demand futility, in efforts by independent disinterested directors to dismiss the action as inimical to the corporation's best interests, and generally, as a defense to the merits of the suit. However, in each of these circumstances there are certain common principles governing the application and operation of the rule.

    46

    First, its protections can only be claimed by disinterested directors whose conduct otherwise meets the tests of business judgment. From the standpoint of interest, this means that directors can neither appear on both sides of a transaction nor expect to derive any personal financial benefit from it in the sense of self-dealing, as opposed to a benefit which devolves upon the corporation or all stockholders generally. Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Levien, Del.Supr., 280 A.2d 717, 720 (1971); Cheff v. Mathes, Del.Supr., 199 A.2d 548, 554 (1964); David J. Greene & Co. v. Dunhill International, Inc., Del.Ch., 249 A.2d 427, 430 (1968). See also 8 Del.C. § 144. Thus, if such director interest is present, and the transaction is not approved by a majority consisting of the disinterested directors, then the business judgment rule has no application whatever in determining demand futility. See 8 Del.C. § 144(a)(1).

    47

    Second, to invoke the rule's protection directors have a duty to inform themselves, prior to making a business decision, of all material information reasonably available to them. Having become so informed, they must then act with requisite care in the discharge of their duties. While the Delaware cases use a variety of terms to describe the applicable standard of care, our analysis satisfies us that under the business judgment rule director liability is predicated upon concepts of gross negligence.[6] See Veasey & Manning, Codified Standard [813] — Safe Harbor or Uncharted Reef? 35 Bus.Law. 919, 928 (1980).

    48

    However, it should be noted that the business judgment rule operates only in the context of director action. Technically speaking, it has no role where directors have either abdicated their functions, or absent a conscious decision, failed to act.[7] But it also follows that under applicable principles, a conscious decision to refrain from acting may nonetheless be a valid exercise of business judgment and enjoy the protections of the rule.

    49

    The gap in our law, which we address today, arises from this Court's decision in Zapata Corp. v. Maldonado. There, the Court defined the limits of a board's managerial power granted by Section 141(a) and restricted application of the business judgment rule in a factual context similar to this action. Zapata Corp. v. Maldonado, 430 A.2d at 782-86, rev'g, Maldonado v. Flynn, Del.Ch., 413 A.2d 1251 (1980).

    50

    By way of background, this Court's review in Zapata was limited to whether an independent investigation committee of disinterested directors had the power to cause the derivative action to be dismissed. Preliminarily, it was noted in Zapata that "[d]irectors of Delaware corporations derive their managerial decision making power, which encompasses decisions whether to initiate, or refrain from entering, litigation, from 8 Del.C. § 141(a)". Zapata, 430 A.2d at 782 (footnotes omitted). In that context, this Court observed that the business judgment rule has no relevance to corporate decision making until after a decision has been made. Id. In Zapata, we stated that a shareholder does not possess an independent individual right to continue a derivative action. Moreover, where demand on a board has been made and refused, we apply the business judgment rule in reviewing the board's refusal to act pursuant to a stockholder's demand. Id. at 784 & n. 10. Unless the business judgment rule does not protect the refusal to sue, the shareholder lacks the legal managerial power to continue the derivative action, since that power is terminated by the refusal. Id. at 784. We also concluded that where demand is excused a shareholder possesses the ability to initiate a derivative action, but the right to prosecute it may be terminated upon the exercise of applicable standards of business judgment. Id. The thrust of Zapata is that in either the demand-refused or the demand-excused case, the board still retains its Section 141(a) managerial authority to make decisions regarding corporate litigation. Moreover, the board may delegate its managerial authority to a committee of independent disinterested directors. Id. at 786. See 8 Del.C. § 141(c). Thus, even in a demand-excused case, a board has the power to appoint a committee of one or more independent disinterested directors to determine whether the derivative action should be pursued or dismissal sought. Zapata, 430 A.2d at 786. Under Zapata, the Court of Chancery, in passing on a committee's motion to dismiss a derivative action in a demand excused case, must apply a two-step test. First, the court must inquire into the independence and good faith of the committee and review the reasonableness and good faith of the committee's investigation. Id. at 788. Second, the court must apply its own independent business judgment to decide whether the motion to dismiss should be granted. Id. at 789.

    51

    After Zapata numerous derivative suits were filed without prior demand upon boards of directors. The complaints in such actions all alleged that demand was excused because of board interest, approval or acquiescence in the wrongdoing. In any event, the Zapata demand-excused/demand-refused [814] bifurcation, has left a crucial issue unanswered: when is demand futile and, therefore, excused?

    52

    Delaware courts have addressed the issue of demand futility on several earlier occasions. See Sohland v. Baker, Del. Supr., 141 A. 277, 281-82 (1927); McKee v. Rogers, Del.Ch., 156 A. 191, 193 (1931); Miller v. Loft, Del.Ch., 153 A. 861, 862 (1931); Fleer v. Frank H. Fleer Corp., Del.Ch., 125 A. 411, 414 (1924); Harden v. Eastern States Public Service Co., Del.Ch., 122 A. 705, 707 (1923); Ellis v. Penn Beef Co., Del.Ch., 80 A. 666, 668 (1911). Cf. Mayer v. Adams, Del.Supr., 141 A.2d 458, 461 (1958) (minority demand on majority shareholders). The rule emerging from these decisions is that where officers and directors are under an influence which sterilizes their discretion, they cannot be considered proper persons to conduct litigation on behalf of the corporation. Thus, demand would be futile. See, e.g., McKee v. Rogers, Del.Ch., 156 A. 191, 192 (1931) (holding that where a defendant controlled the board of directors, "[i]t is manifest then that there can be no expectation that the corporation would sue him, and if it did, it can hardly be said that the prosecution of the suit would be entrusted to proper hands"). But see, e.g., Fleer v. Frank H. Fleer Corp., Del.Ch., 125 A. 411, 415 (1924) ("[w]here the demand if made would be directed to the particular individuals who themselves are the alleged wrongdoers and who therefore would be invited to sue themselves, the rule is settled that a demand and refusal is not requisite"); Miller v. Loft, Inc., Del.Ch., 153 A. 861, 862 (1931) ("if by reason of hostile interest or guilty participation in the wrongs complained of, the directors cannot be expected to institute suit, ... no demand upon them to institute suit is requisite").

    53

    However, those cases cannot be taken to mean that any board approval of a challenged transaction automatically connotes "hostile interest" and "guilty participation" by directors, or some other form of sterilizing influence upon them. Were that so, the demand requirements of our law would be meaningless, leaving the clear mandate of Chancery Rule 23.1 devoid of its purpose and substance.

    54

    The trial court correctly recognized that demand futility is inextricably bound to issues of business judgment, but stated the test to be based on allegations of fact, which, if true, "show that there is a reasonable inference" the business judgment rule is not applicable for purposes of a pre-suit demand. Lewis, 466 A.2d at 381.

    55

    The problem with this formulation is the concept of reasonable inferences to be drawn against a board of directors based on allegations in a complaint. As is clear from this case, and the conclusory allegations upon which the Vice Chancellor relied, demand futility becomes virtually automatic under such a test. Bearing in mind the presumptions with which director action is cloaked, we believe that the matter must be approached in a more balanced way.

    56

    Our view is that in determining demand futility the Court of Chancery in the proper exercise of its discretion must decide whether, under the particularized facts alleged, a reasonable doubt is created that: (1) the directors are disinterested and independent and (2) the challenged transaction was otherwise the product of a valid exercise of business judgment. Hence, the Court of Chancery must make two inquiries, one into the independence and disinterestedness of the directors and the other into the substantive nature of the challenged transaction and the board's approval thereof. As to the latter inquiry the court does not assume that the transaction is a wrong to the corporation requiring corrective steps by the board. Rather, the alleged wrong is substantively reviewed against the factual background alleged in the complaint. As to the former inquiry, directorial independence and disinterestedness, the court reviews the factual allegations to decide whether they raise a reasonable doubt, as a threshold matter, that the protections of the business judgment rule are available to the board. [815] Certainly, if this is an "interested" director transaction, such that the business judgment rule is inapplicable to the board majority approving the transaction, then the inquiry ceases. In that event futility of demand has been established by any objective or subjective standard.[8] See, e.g., Bergstein v. Texas Internat'l Co., Del.Ch., 453 A.2d 467, 471 (1982) (because five of nine directors approved stock appreciation rights plan likely to benefit them, board was interested for demand purposes and demand held futile). This includes situations involving self-dealing directors. See Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Levien, Del.Supr., 280 A.2d 717 (1971); Sterling v. Mayflower, Del.Supr., 93 A.2d 107 (1952); Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Summa Corp., Del.Ch., 374 A.2d 5 (1977); David J. Greene & Co. v. Dunhill International, Inc., Del.Ch., 249 A.2d 427 (1968).

    57

    However, the mere threat of personal liability for approving a questioned transaction, standing alone, is insufficient to challenge either the independence or disinterestedness of directors, although in rare cases a transaction may be so egregious on its face that board approval cannot meet the test of business judgment, and a substantial likelihood of director liability therefore exists. See Gimbel v. Signal Cos., Inc., Del.Ch., 316 A.2d 599, aff'd, Del.Supr., 316 A.2d 619 (1974); Cottrell v. Pawcatuck Co., Del.Supr., 128 A.2d 225 (1956). In sum the entire review is factual in nature. The Court of Chancery in the exercise of its sound discretion must be satisfied that a plaintiff has alleged facts with particularity which, taken as true, support a reasonable doubt that the challenged transaction was the product of a valid exercise of business judgment. Only in that context is demand excused.

    58
    B.
    59

    Having outlined the legal framework within which these issues are to be determined, we consider plaintiff's claims of futility here: Fink's domination and control of the directors, board approval of the Fink-Meyers employment agreement, and board hostility to the plaintiff's derivative action due to the directors' status as defendants.

    60

    Plaintiff's claim that Fink dominates and controls the Meyers' board is based on: (1) Fink's 47% ownership of Meyers' outstanding stock, and (2) that he "personally selected" each Meyers director. Plaintiff also alleges that mere approval of the employment agreement illustrates Fink's domination and control of the board. In addition, plaintiff argued on appeal that 47% stock ownership, though less than a majority, constituted control given the large number of shares outstanding, 1,245,745.

    61

    Such contentions do not support any claim under Delaware law that these directors lack independence. In Kaplan v. Centex Corp., Del.Ch., 284 A.2d 119 (1971), the Court of Chancery stated that "[s]tock ownership alone, at least when it amounts to less than a majority, is not sufficient proof of domination or control". Id. at 123. Moreover, in the demand context even proof of majority ownership of a company does not strip the directors of the presumptions of independence, and that their acts have been taken in good faith and in the best interests of the corporation. There must be coupled with the allegation of control such facts as would demonstrate that through personal or other relationships the directors are beholden to the controlling person. See Mayer v. Adams, Del.Ch., 167 A.2d 729, 732, aff'd, Del.Supr., 174 A.2d 313 (1961). To date the principal decisions dealing [816] with the issue of control or domination arose only after a full trial on the merits. Thus, they are distinguishable in the demand context unless similar particularized facts are alleged to meet the test of Chancery Rule 23.1. See e.g., Kaplan, 284 A.2d at 123; Chasin v. Gluck, Del.Ch., 282 A.2d 188 (1971); Greene v. Allen, Del.Ch., 114 A.2d 916 (1955); Loft, Inc. v. Guth, Del.Ch., 2 A.2d 225, 237 (1938), aff'd, Del.Supr., 5 A.2d 503 (1939).

    62

    The requirement of director independence inhers in the conception and rationale of the business judgment rule. The presumption of propriety that flows from an exercise of business judgment is based in part on this unyielding precept. Independence means that a director's decision is based on the corporate merits of the subject before the board rather than extraneous considerations or influences. While directors may confer, debate, and resolve their differences through compromise, or by reasonable reliance upon the expertise of their colleagues and other qualified persons, the end result, nonetheless, must be that each director has brought his or her own informed business judgment to bear with specificity upon the corporate merits of the issues without regard for or succumbing to influences which convert an otherwise valid business decision into a faithless act.

    63

    Thus, it is not enough to charge that a director was nominated by or elected at the behest of those controlling the outcome of a corporate election. That is the usual way a person becomes a corporate director. It is the care, attention and sense of individual responsibility to the performance of one's duties, not the method of election, that generally touches on independence.

    64

    We conclude that in the demand-futile context a plaintiff charging domination and control of one or more directors must allege particularized facts manifesting "a direction of corporate conduct in such a way as to comport with the wishes or interests of the corporation (or persons) doing the controlling". Kaplan, 284 A.2d at 123. The shorthand shibboleth of "dominated and controlled directors" is insufficient. In recognizing that Kaplan was decided after trial and full discovery, we stress that the plaintiff need only allege specific facts; he need not plead evidence. Otherwise, he would be forced to make allegations which may not comport with his duties under Chancery Rule 11.[9]

    65

    Here, plaintiff has not alleged any facts sufficient to support a claim of control. The personal-selection-of-directors allegation stands alone, unsupported. At best it is a conclusion devoid of factual support. The causal link between Fink's control and approval of the employment agreement is alluded to, but nowhere specified. The director's approval, alone, does not establish control, even in the face of Fink's 47% stock ownership. See Kaplan v. Centex Corp., 284 A.2d at 122, 123. The claim that Fink is unlikely to perform any services under the agreement, because of his age, and his conflicting consultant work with Prudential, adds nothing to the control claim.[10] Therefore, we cannot conclude that the [817] complaint factually particularizes any circumstances of control and domination to overcome the presumption of board independence, and thus render the demand futile.

    66
    C.
    67

    Turning to the board's approval of the Meyers-Fink employment agreement, plaintiff's argument is simple: all of the Meyers directors are named defendants, because they approved the wasteful agreement; if plaintiff prevails on the merits all the directors will be jointly and severally liable; therefore, the directors' interest in avoiding personal liability automatically and absolutely disqualifies them from passing on a shareholder's demand.

    68

    Such allegations are conclusory at best. In Delaware mere directorial approval of a transaction, absent particularized facts supporting a breach of fiduciary duty claim, or otherwise establishing the lack of independence or disinterestedness of a majority of the directors, is insufficient to excuse demand.[11] Here, plaintiff's suit is premised on the notion that the Meyers-Fink employment agreement was a waste of corporate assets. So, the argument goes, by approving such waste the directors now face potential personal liability, thereby rendering futile any demand on them to bring suit. Unfortunately, plaintiff's claim falls in its initial premise. The complaint does not allege particularized facts indicating that the agreement is a waste of corporate assets. Indeed, the complaint as now drafted may not even state a cause of action, given the directors' broad corporate power to fix the compensation of officers.[12]

    69

    In essence, the plaintiff alleged a lack of consideration flowing from Fink to Meyers, since the employment agreement provided that compensation was not contingent on Fink's ability to perform any services. The bare assertion that Fink performed "little or no services" was plaintiff's conclusion based solely on Fink's age and the existence of the Fink-Prudential employment agreement. As for Meyers' loans to Fink, beyond the bare allegation that they were made, the complaint does not allege facts indicating the wastefulness of such arrangements. Again, the mere existence of such loans, given the broad corporate powers conferred by Delaware law, does not even state a claim.[13]

    70

    In sustaining plaintiff's claim of demand futility the trial court relied on Fidanque v. American Maracaibo Co., Del. Ch., 92 A.2d 311, 321 (1952), which held that a contract providing for payment of consulting fees to a retired president/director was a waste of corporate assets. Id. In Fidanque, the court found after trial that the contract and payments were in reality compensation for past services. Id. at 320. This was based upon facts not present here: the former president/director was a 70 year old stroke victim, neither the agreement nor the record spelled out his consulting duties at all, the consulting salary equalled the individual's salary when he was president and general manager of the corporation, and the contract was silent as to continued employment in the event that the retired president/director again became incapacitated and unable to perform his duties. Id. at 320-21. Contrasting the facts of Fidanque with the complaint here, it is apparent that plaintiff has not alleged [818] facts sufficient to render demand futile on a charge of corporate waste, and thus create a reasonable doubt that the board's action is protected by the business judgment rule. Cf. Beard v. Elster, Del.Supr., 160 A.2d 731 (1960); Lieberman v. Koppers Company Line, Inc., Del.Ch., 149 A.2d 756, aff'd, Lieberman v. Becker, Del.Supr., 155 A.2d 596 (1959).

    71
    D.
    72

    Plaintiff's final argument is the incantation that demand is excused because the directors otherwise would have to sue themselves, thereby placing the conduct of the litigation in hostile hands and preventing its effective prosecution. This bootstrap argument has been made to and dismissed by other courts. See, e.g., Lewis v. Graves, 701 F.2d 245, 248-49 (2d Cir.1983); Heit v. Baird, 567 F.2d 1157, 1162 (1st Cir. 1977); Lewis v. Anselmi, 564 F.Supp., 768, 772 (S.D.N.Y.1983). Its acceptance would effectively abrogate Rule 23.1 and weaken the managerial power of directors. Unless facts are alleged with particularity to overcome the presumptions of independence and a proper exercise of business judgment, in which case the directors could not be expected to sue themselves, a bare claim of this sort raises no legally cognizable issue under Delaware corporate law.

    73
    V.
    74

    In sum, we conclude that the plaintiff has failed to allege facts with particularity indicating that the Meyers directors were tainted by interest, lacked independence, or took action contrary to Meyers' best interests in order to create a reasonable doubt as to the applicability of the business judgment rule. Only in the presence of such a reasonable doubt may a demand be deemed futile. Hence, we reverse the Court of Chancery's denial of the motion to dismiss, and remand with instructions that plaintiff be granted leave to amend his complaint to bring it into compliance with Rule 23.1 based on the principles we have announced today.

    75
    * * *
    76

    REVERSED AND REMANDED.

    77

    [1] Chancery Rule 23.1, similar to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23.1, provides in pertinent part:

    78

    In a derivative action brought by 1 or more shareholders or members to enforce a right of a corporation or of an unincorporated association, the corporation or association having failed to enforce a right which may properly be asserted by it, the complaint shall allege that the plaintiff was a shareholder or member at the time of the transaction of which he complains or that his share of membership thereafter devolved on him by operation of law. The complaint shall also allege with particularity the efforts, if any, made by the plaintiff to obtain the action he desires from the directors or comparable authority and the reasons for his failure to obtain the action or for not making the effort. Del.Ch.Ct.R. 23.1 (Emphasis added).

    79

    [2] The Court of Chancery stated that Fink had been chief executive officer of Prudential prior to the spin-off and thereafter became chairman of Meyers' board. This was not alleged in the complaint. Lewis, 466 A.2d at 379.

    80

    [3] The trial court stated that Fink "changed his status with Prudential building from employee to consultant". Lewis, 466 A.2d at 379.

    81

    [4] The broad question of structuring the modern corporation in order to satisfy the twin objectives of managerial freedom of action and responsibility to shareholders has been extensively debated by commentators. See, e.g., Fischel, The Corporate Governance Movement, 35 Vand.L.Rev. 1259 (1982); Dickstein, Corporate Governance and the Shareholders' Derivative Action: Rules and Remedies for Implementing the Monitoring Model, 3 Cardozo L.Rev. 627 (1982); Haft, Business Decisions by the New Board: Behavioral Science and Corporate Law, 80 Mich.L.Rev. 1 (1981); Dent, The Revolution in Corporate Governance, The Monitoring Board, and The Director's Duty of Care, 61 B.U.L.Rev. 623 (1981); Moore, Corporate Officer & Director Liability: Is Corporate Behavior Beyond the Control of Our Legal System? 16 Capital U.L.Rev. 69 (1980); Jones, Corporate Governance: Who Controls the Large Corporation? 30 Hastings L.J. 1261 (1979); Small, The Evolving Role of the Director in Corporate Governance, 30 Hastings L.J. 1353 (1979).

    82

    [5] Like the broader question of corporate governance, the derivative suit, its value, and the methods employed by corporate boards to deal with it have received much attention by commentators. See, e.g., Brown, Shareholder Derivative Litigation and the Special Litigation Committee, 43 U.Pitt.L.Rev. 601 (1982); Coffee and Schwartz, The Survival of the Derivative Suit: An Evaluation and a Proposal for Legislative Reform, 81 Colum.L.Rev. 261 (1981); Shnell, A Procedural Treatment of Derivative Suit Dismissals by Minority Directors, 609 Calif.L.Rev. 885 (1981); Dent, The Power of Directors to Terminate Shareholder Litigation: The Death of the Derivative Suit? 75 N.W.U.L. Rev. 96 (1980); Jones, An Empirical Examination of the Incidence of Shareholder Derivative and Class Action Lawsuits, 1971-1978, 60 B.U. L.Rev. 306 (1980); Comment, The Demand and Standing Requirements in Stockholder Derivative Actions, 44 U.Chi.L.Rev. 168 (1976); Dykstra, The Revival of the Derivative Suit, 116 U.Pa.L.Rev. 74 (1967); Note, Demand on Directors and Shareholders as a Prerequisite to a Derivative Suit, 73 Harv.L.Rev. 729 (1960).

    83

    [6] While the Delaware cases have not been precise in articulating the standard by which the exercise of business judgment is governed, a long line of Delaware cases holds that director liability is predicated on a standard which is less exacting than simple negligence. Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Levien, Del.Supr., 280 A.2d 717, 722 (1971), rev'g, Del.Ch., 261 A.2d 911 (1969) ("fraud or gross overreaching"); Getty Oil Co. v. Skelly Oil Co., Del.Supr., 267 A.2d 883, 887 (1970), rev'g, Del.Ch., 255 A.2d 717 (1969) ("gross and palpable overreaching"); Warshaw v. Calhoun, Del.Supr., 221 A.2d 487, 492-93 (1966) ("bad faith ... or a gross abuse of discretion"); Moskowitz v. Bantrell, Del.Supr., 190 A.2d 749, 750 (1963) ("fraud or gross abuse of discretion"); Penn Mart Realty Co. v. Becker, Del.Ch., 298 A.2d 349, 351 (1972) ("directors may breach their fiduciary duty ... by being grossly negligent"); Kors v. Carey, Del.Ch., 158 A.2d 136, 140 (1960) ("fraud, misconduct or abuse of discretion"); Allaun v. Consolidated Oil Co., Del.Ch., 147 A. 257, 261 (1929) ("reckless indifference to or a deliberate disregard of the stockholders").

    84

    [7] Although questions of director liability in such cases have been adjudicated upon concepts of business judgment, they do not in actuality present issues of business judgment. See Graham v. Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co., Del.Supr., 188 A.2d 125 (1963); Kelly v. Bell, Del.Ch., 254 A.2d 62 (1969), aff'd, Del. Supr., 266 A.2d 878 (1970); Lutz v. Boas, Del. Ch., 171 A.2d 381 (1961). See also Arsht, Fiduciary Responsibilities of Directors, Officers & Key Employees, 4 Del.J.Corp.L. 652, 659 (1979).

    85

    [8] We recognize that drawing the line at a majority of the board may be an arguably arbitrary dividing point. Critics will charge that we are ignoring the structural bias common to corporate boards throughout America, as well as the other unseen socialization processes cutting against independent discussion and decisionmaking in the boardroom. The difficulty with structural bias in a demand futile case is simply one of establishing it in the complaint for purposes of Rule 23.1. We are satisfied that discretionary review by the Court of Chancery of complaints alleging specific facts pointing to bias on a particular board will be sufficient for determining demand futility.

    86

    [9] Chancery Rule 11 provides:

    87

    Every pleading of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least 1 attorney of record in his individual name, whose address shall be stated. A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign his pleading and state his address. Except when otherwise specifically provided by statute or rule, pleadings need not be verified or accompanied by affidavit. The signature of an attorney constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading; that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay. If a pleading is not signed or is signed with intent to defeat the purpose of this rule, it may be stricken as sham and false and the action may proceed as though the pleading had not been served. For a willful violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action. Similar action may be taken if scandalous or indecent matter is inserted.

    88

    Del.Ch.Ct.R. 11.

    89

    [10] Plaintiff made no legal argument that the "best efforts" provision of the agreement prohibited dual consultant duties, thereby demonstrating that the contract's approval evidenced control or was otherwise wrongful.

    90

    [11] See also In re Kauffman Mutual Fund Actions, 479 F.2d 257, 265 (1st Cir.1973); Greenspun v. Del E. Webb, 634 F.2d 1204, 1210 (9th Cir.1980); Grossman v. Johnson, 674 F.2d 115, 124 (1st Cir.1982); Lewis v. Curtis, 671 F.2d 779, 785 (3d Cir.1982); Lewis v. Graves, 701 F.2d 245, 248 (2d Cir.1983).

    91

    [12] 8 Del.C. § 122(5) provides that "[e]very corporation created under this chapter shall have the power to appoint such officers and agents as the business of the corporation requires and to pay or otherwise provide for them suitable compensation". 8 Del.C. § 122(5).

    92

    [13] Plaintiff's allegation ignores 8 Del.C. § 143 which expressly authorizes interest-free loans to "any officer or employee of the corporation... whenever, in the judgment of the directors, such loan ... may reasonably be expected to benefit the corporation." 8 Del.C. § 143.

  • 3 DGCL Sec. 144 - Interested director transactions

    The following provision of the statute provides a safe harbor for interested director transactions. If the requirements of the safe harbor are complied with then an interested director transaction will not be void or voidable because of the participation of the director. It may still, however, be subject to attack as a violation of the duty of loyalty and the interested director may be required to prove the entire fairness of the transaction. 

    1
    TITLE 8
    2
    Corporations
    3
    CHAPTER 1. GENERAL CORPORATION LAW
    4 5 6

    (a) No contract or transaction between a corporation and 1 or more of its directors or officers, or between a corporation and any other corporation, partnership, association, or other organization in which 1 or more of its directors or officers, are directors or officers, or have a financial interest, shall be void or voidable solely for this reason, or solely because the director or officer is present at or participates in the meeting of the board or committee which authorizes the contract or transaction, or solely because any such director's or officer's votes are counted for such purpose, if:

    7

    (1) The material facts as to the director's or officer's relationship or interest and as to the contract or transaction are disclosed or are known to the board of directors or the committee, and the board or committee in good faith authorizes the contract or transaction by the affirmative votes of a majority of the disinterested directors, even though the disinterested directors be less than a quorum; or

    8

    (2) The material facts as to the director's or officer's relationship or interest and as to the contract or transaction are disclosed or are known to the stockholders entitled to vote thereon, and the contract or transaction is specifically approved in good faith by vote of the stockholders; or

    9

    (3) The contract or transaction is fair as to the corporation as of the time it is authorized, approved or ratified, by the board of directors, a committee or the stockholders.

    10

    (b) Common or interested directors may be counted in determining the presence of a quorum at a meeting of the board of directors or of a committee which authorizes the contract or transaction.

    11

    8 Del. C. 1953, § 144; 56 Del. Laws, c. 5056 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 557 Del. Laws, c. 148, § 771 Del. Laws, c. 339, §§ 15-1777 Del. Laws, c. 253, §§ 13, 14.;

  • 4 DGCL Sec. 145

    Indemnification

    1
    TITLE 8
    2
    Corporations
    3
    CHAPTER 1. GENERAL CORPORATION LAW
    4 5 6

    (a) A corporation shall have power to indemnify any person who was or is a party or is threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending or completed action, suit or proceeding, whether civil, criminal, administrative or investigative (other than an action by or in the right of the corporation) by reason of the fact that the person is or was a director, officer, employee or agent of the corporation, or is or was serving at the request of the corporation as a director, officer, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust or other enterprise, against expenses (including attorneys' fees), judgments, fines and amounts paid in settlement actually and reasonably incurred by the person in connection with such action, suit or proceeding if the person acted in good faith and in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in or not opposed to the best interests of the corporation, and, with respect to any criminal action or proceeding, had no reasonable cause to believe the person's conduct was unlawful. The termination of any action, suit or proceeding by judgment, order, settlement, conviction, or upon a plea of nolo contendere or its equivalent, shall not, of itself, create a presumption that the person did not act in good faith and in a manner which the person reasonably believed to be in or not opposed to the best interests of the corporation, and, with respect to any criminal action or proceeding, had reasonable cause to believe that the person's conduct was unlawful.

    7

    (b) A corporation shall have power to indemnify any person who was or is a party or is threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending or completed action or suit by or in the right of the corporation to procure a judgment in its favor by reason of the fact that the person is or was a director, officer, employee or agent of the corporation, or is or was serving at the request of the corporation as a director, officer, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust or other enterprise against expenses (including attorneys' fees) actually and reasonably incurred by the person in connection with the defense or settlement of such action or suit if the person acted in good faith and in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in or not opposed to the best interests of the corporation and except that no indemnification shall be made in respect of any claim, issue or matter as to which such person shall have been adjudged to be liable to the corporation unless and only to the extent that the Court of Chancery or the court in which such action or suit was brought shall determine upon application that, despite the adjudication of liability but in view of all the circumstances of the case, such person is fairly and reasonably entitled to indemnity for such expenses which the Court of Chancery or such other court shall deem proper.

    8

    (c) To the extent that a present or former director or officer of a corporation has been successful on the merits or otherwise in defense of any action, suit or proceeding referred to in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, or in defense of any claim, issue or matter therein, such person shall be indemnified against expenses (including attorneys' fees) actually and reasonably incurred by such person in connection therewith.

    9

    (d) Any indemnification under subsections (a) and (b) of this section (unless ordered by a court) shall be made by the corporation only as authorized in the specific case upon a determination that indemnification of the present or former director, officer, employee or agent is proper in the circumstances because the person has met the applicable standard of conduct set forth in subsections (a) and (b) of this section. Such determination shall be made, with respect to a person who is a director or officer of the corporation at the time of such determination:

    10

    (1) By a majority vote of the directors who are not parties to such action, suit or proceeding, even though less than a quorum; or

    11

    (2) By a committee of such directors designated by majority vote of such directors, even though less than a quorum; or

    12

    (3) If there are no such directors, or if such directors so direct, by independent legal counsel in a written opinion; or

    13

    (4) By the stockholders.

    14

    (e) Expenses (including attorneys' fees) incurred by an officer or director of the corporation in defending any civil, criminal, administrative or investigative action, suit or proceeding may be paid by the corporation in advance of the final disposition of such action, suit or proceeding upon receipt of an undertaking by or on behalf of such director or officer to repay such amount if it shall ultimately be determined that such person is not entitled to be indemnified by the corporation as authorized in this section. Such expenses (including attorneys' fees) incurred by former directors and officers or other employees and agents of the corporation or by persons serving at the request of the corporation as directors, officers, employees or agents of another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust or other enterprise may be so paid upon such terms and conditions, if any, as the corporation deems appropriate.

    15

    (f) The indemnification and advancement of expenses provided by, or granted pursuant to, the other subsections of this section shall not be deemed exclusive of any other rights to which those seeking indemnification or advancement of expenses may be entitled under any bylaw, agreement, vote of stockholders or disinterested directors or otherwise, both as to action in such person's official capacity and as to action in another capacity while holding such office. A right to indemnification or to advancement of expenses arising under a provision of the certificate of incorporation or a bylaw shall not be eliminated or impaired by an amendment to the certificate of incorporation or the bylaws after the occurrence of the act or omission that is the subject of the civil, criminal, administrative or investigative action, suit or proceeding for which indemnification or advancement of expenses is sought, unless the provision in effect at the time of such act or omission explicitly authorizes such elimination or impairment after such action or omission has occurred.

    16

    (g) A corporation shall have power to purchase and maintain insurance on behalf of any person who is or was a director, officer, employee or agent of the corporation, or is or was serving at the request of the corporation as a director, officer, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust or other enterprise against any liability asserted against such person and incurred by such person in any such capacity, or arising out of such person's status as such, whether or not the corporation would have the power to indemnify such person against such liability under this section.

    17

    (h) For purposes of this section, references to "the corporation" shall include, in addition to the resulting corporation, any constituent corporation (including any constituent of a constituent) absorbed in a consolidation or merger which, if its separate existence had continued, would have had power and authority to indemnify its directors, officers, and employees or agents, so that any person who is or was a director, officer, employee or agent of such constituent corporation, or is or was serving at the request of such constituent corporation as a director, officer, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust or other enterprise, shall stand in the same position under this section with respect to the resulting or surviving corporation as such person would have with respect to such constituent corporation if its separate existence had continued.

    18

    (i) For purposes of this section, references to "other enterprises" shall include employee benefit plans; references to "fines" shall include any excise taxes assessed on a person with respect to any employee benefit plan; and references to "serving at the request of the corporation" shall include any service as a director, officer, employee or agent of the corporation which imposes duties on, or involves services by, such director, officer, employee or agent with respect to an employee benefit plan, its participants or beneficiaries; and a person who acted in good faith and in a manner such person reasonably believed to be in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries of an employee benefit plan shall be deemed to have acted in a manner "not opposed to the best interests of the corporation" as referred to in this section.

    19

    (j) The indemnification and advancement of expenses provided by, or granted pursuant to, this section shall, unless otherwise provided when authorized or ratified, continue as to a person who has ceased to be a director, officer, employee or agent and shall inure to the benefit of the heirs, executors and administrators of such a person.

    20

    (k) The Court of Chancery is hereby vested with exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine all actions for advancement of expenses or indemnification brought under this section or under any bylaw, agreement, vote of stockholders or disinterested directors, or otherwise. The Court of Chancery may summarily determine a corporation's obligation to advance expenses (including attorneys' fees).

    21

    8 Del. C. 1953, § 145; 56 Del. Laws, c. 5056 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 657 Del. Laws, c. 421, § 259 Del. Laws, c. 437, § 763 Del. Laws, c. 25, § 164 Del. Laws, c. 112, § 765 Del. Laws, c. 289, §§ 3-667 Del. Laws, c. 376, § 369 Del. Laws, c. 261, §§ 1, 270 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 171 Del. Laws, c. 120, §§ 3-1177 Del. Laws, c. 14, § 377 Del. Laws, c. 290, §§ 5, 678 Del. Laws, c. 96, § 6.;

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