Salamone v. Gorman

Defendants-Appellants Gary Salamone, Mike Dura and Robert Halder (collectively, the “Management Group”) appealed a Court of Chancery Memorandum Opinion and Order and Final Judgment. This case involved a dispute between two competing sets of stockholders and directors about the composition of the board of Westech Capital Corporation, a financial services holding company headquartered in Austin, Texas. Both parties brought actions in the Court of Chancery pursuant to 8 Del. C. section 225, each contending that their respective slates of directors were the valid board. The heart of the case for both sides was the interpretation of a Voting Agreement signed by the purchasers of Westech Series A Preferred stock in September 2011. According to John Gorman, IV, the founder of the company and its majority stockholder, the Voting Agreement provided for a per share scheme and entitled him to remove and designate new directors, as he attempted to do in 2013. According to the Management Group, the Voting Agreement provided for a per capita scheme. Because Gorman’s attempt to remove and replace directors was not approved by a majority of the (individual) holders of the preferred stock (as opposed to the holders of a majority of shares), they argued that Gorman’s attempts to change the board composition were invalid. Both parties filed section 225 actions. The two cases were consolidated, with Gorman as plaintiff and the Management Group as defendants. The Court of Chancery’s Memorandum Opinion held that one clause of the Voting Agreement set forth a per capita scheme to designate directors, but another contested provision set forth a per share scheme to designate directors. Thus, the Court of Chancery determined that Gorman’s actions were only partially valid, and that the Westech board consisted of two members of the Gorman slate and two members of the Management slate, with three vacant seats. Both parties appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court, arguing that the Court of Chancery’s decision was partially incorrect. The Court did not agree with either side's arguments on appeal and affirmed the Court of Chancery’s ruling that Section 1.2(b) of the Voting Agreement set forth a per share scheme and Section 1.2(c) set forth a per capita scheme. However, the Court concluded that the Court of Chancery erred in holding that the directors designated pursuant to Section 1.2(c) could be removed by the vote of the majority of the shares held by the Key Holders. Instead, under the plain language of Section 1.4(a), the Key Holders, as the “Person[s]” entitled to nominate the Key Holder Designees, are the only “Person[s]” entitled to remove the Key Holder Designees. Put more broadly, the plain language of Section 1.2 and Section 1.4(a) suggests that the designation and removal provisions were intended to be symmetrical. In reaching its conclusions, the Supreme Court held that certain of the Court of Chancery’s factual findings were clearly erroneous. However, these errors were not of sufficient force to affect the Court of Chancery’s overall conclusions regarding Sections 1.2(b) and 1.2(c). Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part.View "Salamone v. Gorman" on Justia Law

Benson v. Delaware

Following a six-day trial, a jury convicted Sirron Benson of Murder First Degree and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony in connection with the 2011 shooting death of Braheem Curtis. Benson was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment as to Murder First Degree and twenty years at Level V to be served consecutively as to Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. On appeal, Benson argued: (1) it was plain error for the trial judge not to issue a curative instruction sua sponte when the prosecutor, in his rebuttal summation, stated that Benson’s intent to cause death could be inferred from the weapon used to perpetrate the crime; and (2) the trial judge committed reversible error by failing to give a cautionary instruction relating to the testimony of an informant witness who was receiving a benefit from the State in exchange for his testimony. Finding no merit to either of Benson’s arguments, the Supreme Court affirmed.View "Benson v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Black v. Justice of the Peace Court 13, et al.

In late 2013, when Paul Taylor filed a complaint seeking back rent and possession of a home he rented to James David and Elisabeth Black. Justice of the Peace Court 13 ordered an expedited summary possession trial under 25 Del. C. 5115. The Blacks appealed a Superior Court order denying their petition for a writ of certiorari, arguing that Justice of the Peace Court 13 proceeded contrary to law and denied the Blacks due process of law when it issued a forthwith summons under 25 Del. C. 5115 absent satisfaction of the statutory requirements for issuance of that summons. Furthermore, the Blacks argued the record showed that Justice of the Peace Court 13 proceeded irregularly because it created no record regarding the basis for its issuance of the forthwith summons. The Supreme Court concluded that both of the Blacks’ contentions were meritorious, and reversed the Superior Court. The case was remanded for further proceedings.View "Black v. Justice of the Peace Court 13, et al." on Justia Law

Purnell v. Delaware

Tameka Giles was murdered after a botched robbery attempt in 2006. She was walking with her husband when two men approached them and demanded money. After she refused, one of them fatally shot her in the back. Both men fled. The police quickly identified Ronald Harris as a suspect based on eyewitness identification from Angela Rayne, who had been smoking crack cocaine nearby at the time of the shooting. Mrs. Giles' husband also tentatively identified Kellee Mitchell as one of the shooters in a photo lineup. The police arrested both men on February 18, 2006. At the time of the arrest, defendant Mark Purnell was in Harris' apartment, but was not yet considered a suspect. Neither Harris nor Mitchell identified Purnell as one of the assailants during any of their respective interviews with the police in 2006. Purnell was not identified as a suspect until January 2007, when Corey Hammond informed the police that he had seen Purnell and Harris together on the day of the shooting. Purnell was ultimately tried and convicted for second degree murder, first degree attempted robbery, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, possession of a deadly weapon during commission of a felony, possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited, and second degree conspiracy. Purnell was sentenced to an aggregate of 77 years at L-5, 21 years of which were mandatory, suspended after serving 45 years at decreasing levels of supervision. Purnell's convictions and sentences were affirmed by the Supreme Court on direct appeal. He appealed the Superior Court's denial of his Rule 61 motion for postconviction relief raising four arguments on appeal, all related to the performance of his trial counsel. After review, the Delaware Supreme Court found no merit to Purnell's appeal. Accordingly, it affirmed the Superior Court.View "Purnell v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Campos v. Daisy Construction Co.

Jose Campos was injured while working for Daisy Construction Company. While Campos was receiving total disability payments from Daisy, Daisy performed an investigation of his social security number at the request of its workers' compensation insurance carrier and discovered that Campos was an undocumented worker. When Campos could not provide a valid number, Daisy terminated his employment. Around the same time, Daisy hired a doctor to re-evaluate Campos' medical condition. The doctor concluded that although Campos remained partially disabled, he could perform "light duty" work with restrictions. Daisy then filed a petition with the Industrial Accident Board to terminate Campos' total disability benefit payments. The Board granted Daisy's petition because Campos was physically capable of working and therefore was not totally disabled. The Board also found that Campos was not eligible for partial disability benefits, reasoning that Daisy had met its burden of showing that Campos had no decrease in earning capacity by testifying that Campos would be eligible for light duty jobs at Daisy at his pre-injury wage rate if he could provide a valid social security number. The Superior Court affirmed the Board's decision. After its review, the Delaware Supreme Court concluded the Board erred when it found that Campos was not eligible for partial disability benefits: "If we were to hold that Daisy's testimony constituted sufficient proof of job availability, an employer could always hire an undocumented worker, have him suffer a workplace injury, and then avoid partial disability benefit payments by 'discovering' his immigration status, offering to re-employ him if he could fix it, and claiming that a job is available to him at no loss in wages. This outcome would be contrary to the Workers' Compensation Act and our case law interpreting it, [...] which prevents employers from depriving undocumented workers of employment benefits. [...]Accordingly, Daisy must continue to pay partial disability payments until it can demonstrate that Campos has no decrease in earning power from his workplace injury, or until the statutory period for partial disability benefit eligibility expires. Federal restrictions that prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers may make it more difficult for Daisy to prove job availability, but any difficulty is appropriately borne by it as the employer, who must take the employee, Campos, as it hired him."View "Campos v. Daisy Construction Co." on Justia Law

The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co.

Appellant North River Insurance Company challenged the Court of Chancery’s denial of its request for permanent injunctive relief. This multi-forum litigation concerns policies issued by North River to a safety products company, Mine Safety Appliances Company (MSA). North River issued thirteen policies to MSA covering periods from 1972 through 1986. MSA defended against thousands of personal injury claims allegedly caused by defects in its mine safety equipment. MSA seeks coverage under North River’s policies as well as from several other insurers. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether North River’s coverage under these policies was "triggered" (as a matter of Pennsylvania law), and was being litigated, along with its claims against other insurers in federal and state courts in Pennsylvania, the Delaware Superior Court and in certain later-filed cases in West Virginia. North River requested that the Court of Chancery permanently enjoin MSA from prosecuting the later-filed claims in West Virginia and from assigning to any tort claimants the right to recover under any insurance policy issued by North River to MSA. During the course of this appeal, North River narrowed its focus to the assignment issue. Finding no reversible error to the Court of Chancery's decision, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed.View "The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co." on Justia Law

Lowther v. Delaware

Erin Lowther was arrested after an altercation with her sister-in-law Trisha. A grand jury issued a superseding indictment, charging Lowther with second degree assault, terroristic threatening and offensive touching. At trial, Lowther unsuccessfully moved to acquit on the terroristic threatening charge. The jury found Lowther guilty of assault and terroristic threatening, but not offensive touching. Lowther was sentenced to six years at Level V incarceration, eighteen months suspended at Level III probation for assault, and one year at Level V incarceration, suspended for one year at Level III probation for terroristic threatening. On appeal, she raised two issues: (1) the evidence presented against her at trial was insufficient to support the threatening charge; and (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury with regard to the threatening charge. Finding no merit to these arguments, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's judgment.View "Lowther v. Delaware" on Justia Law

The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co.

Appellant North River Insurance Company appealed the Court of Chancery’s denial of its request for permanent injunctive relief. This multi-forum litigation concerned policies issued by North River to a safety products company, Mine Safety Appliances Company (“MSA”). North River issued thirteen policies to MSA covering periods from August 28, 1972 through April 1, 1986. MSA was defending against thousands of personal injury claims allegedly caused by defects in its mine safety equipment. MSA sought coverage under North River’s policies as well as from several other insurers. The issue this case presented for review was whether North River’s coverage under these policies was “triggered” (a matter of Pennsylvania law) was being litigated, along with its claims against other insurers, in federal and state courts in Pennsylvania, the Delaware Superior Court and in certain later-filed cases in West Virginia. North River requested that the Delaware Court of Chancery permanently enjoin MSA from prosecuting the later-filed claims in West Virginia and from assigning to any tort claimants the right to recover under any insurance policy issued by North River to MSA. During the course of this appeal, North River narrowed its focus to the assignment issue. Finding no reversible error in the Court of Chancery's denial, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed that decision.View "The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co." on Justia Law

Hansley v. Delaware

Defendant-Appellant Nicole Hansley was convicted by jury of Tier 4 Drug Dealing, Tier 5 Aggravated Possession, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. She raised two issues on appeal, one of which was conceded by the State. Hansley’s remaining claim was that the trial court erred by precluding Hansley from introducing relevant testimony of a former police officer that Hansley was a prostitute addicted to crack cocaine, thereby violating Hansley’s constitutional right to present a defense. Upon review, the Delaware Supreme Court found that the trial court erred by excluding relevant testimony in violation of the Delaware Rules of Evidence. Accordingly, the Court reversed. The Court did not reach Hansley’s constitutional argument.View "Hansley v. Delaware" on Justia Law

Hansley v. Delaware

Defendant-appellant Nicole Hansley was convicted by jury of Tier 4 Drug Dealing, Tier 5 Aggravated Possession, Possession of Cocaine, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Hansley raised two issued on appeal, one of which was conceded by the State. Her remaining claim was that the trial court erred by precluding Hansley from introducing relevant testimony of a former police officer that Hansley was a prostitute addicted to crack cocaine, thereby violating Hansley’s constitutional right to present a defense. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court found the trial court erred by excluding the testimony in violation of the Delaware Rules of Evidence, and accordingly, reversed.View "Hansley v. Delaware" on Justia Law