Under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”), only stockholders or directors have standing to make a demand to inspect a Delaware corporation’s books and records.  What happens if, after a books and records demand is made upon the corporation, but before an action is commenced before the Court of Chancery, the stock of the demanding stockholder is extinguished through a merger?  This precise issue was addressed in the recent decision of Weingarten v. Monster Worldwide, Inc., C.A. No. 1293-VCG (Del. Ch. Feb. 27, 2017).

In Weingarten, the plaintiff stockholder’s demand was made before a merger closed, but the petition was not filed until after the merger closed.  The merger extinguished the stockholder status of the plaintiff.

In a matter of first impression, Vice Chancellor Glasscock ruled that the “unambiguous language of Section 220(c) compels a finding that a former stockholder squeezed out in a merger thereafter lacks standing to bring an action under [Section 220]”.  The Court made clear that a plaintiff must be a stockholder at the time the petition is filed with the Court of Chancery, distinguishing decisions in which a stockholder lost standing after filing a complaint, through a merger.

If you would like to speak to a litigator in Fox Rothschild’s Delaware office, please reach out to Sid Liebesman (302) 622-4237 or Seth Niederman (302) 622-4238.