What is the Court of Equity in Delaware?
The Delaware Court of Chancery is supposed to be Delaware’s Equity Court. What is the definition of the word “Equity”? Equity is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “ the quality of being fair and impartial.” When there is a corporate dispute, involving a Delaware corporation, the Delaware Court of Chancery decides the case. The decision is supposed to be based on objective fairness involving reasonable decisions based on the evidence provided. All relevant evidence should be objectively considered.
If it is not, then there is something radically wrong.
So how does TransPerfect Fit in?
This brings me to the TransPerfect Global case of which I have been writing aboutwhere there are obvious improprieties involving a questionable decision. Let’s put everything in a very simple perspective. The company is a translation company that nets over $500 million dollars per year. It employs about 4000 people. It has 90 offices world- wide. It is a Delaware Corporation. There are two equal owners who were once lovers. The owners Elizabeth Elting and Phil Shawe are at odds and do not get along.
Now, the case: Elizabeth Elting (who vindictively) wants the company to be sold and Phil Shawe (who loves his company and cares about his employees) does not. Shawe has offered Elting 300 million dollars for her share which is more than she would get at a public action.
If the company is sold, there is a good chance that many of the 4000 employees would lose their jobs. The presiding Judge is the Chief Chancellor named Andre Bouchard.
Elizabeth Elting who brought the complaint before the court refuses to make a counter offer or agree to any reasonable negotiations out of what appears to be pure spite. It certainly looks as if she wants the company to go to public auction just to hurt Shawe.
Chancellor Bouchard has ordered a temporary custodian (one of his buddies) to run the company during the interim. Elting’s attorney Kevin Shannon is a friend of the Chancellor and they appeared on a legal panel together in New Orleans while in the heart of this lawsuit. This custodian has threatened employees with job terminationthrough inter office directives not to discuss the case. Millions of dollars have been unnecessarily spent with this custodian at the helm (<$5 mIllion) usurping Shawe’s successful leadership which has been clearly proven by the company’s financial success over the years and by the testimony of many employees.
There was no testimony on behalf of Elting. Evidence indicating some irregularities by Elting has not been allowed to be presented. Other substantial evidence on behalf of Shawe has been ignored. Granted, under normal circumstances, when two owners of a company cannot agree and there is no written agreement in place (which there isn’t), then the assets have to be sold or one partner buys out the other? However in this case, you have one partner who is willing to buy out the other for more than what her share is worth.
Let me mention one more fact. Elting lied in a recent Forbes piece where she stated that in response to Shawe’s offer she told the custodian that she would offer more. It is a lie, and she is not offering to buy, nor is she willing to sell to Shawe. This is the key fact Bouchard ignores. He can force the mediation by telling the parties he will install a third board member to break any tie and then leave the case alone.
The Questions Not Being Asked
Therefore I ask the following questions:
- Why does Chancellor Bouchard not order Elting to settle or become a silent partner?
- Why would he order the sale of a viable company possibly costing thousands of employees their jobs?
- That being the case, why would someone want to incorporate in Delaware when this is the possible result?
I am a writer who has an interest in many things. I love to expose inequities when they are obvious. Having followed this case very carefully, there is no doubt in my mind that there have been suspicious irregularities in the way this case has been handled. There is certainly the appearance of improprieties. There has been no objective fairness, impartiality, or reasonable consideration which is the duty of this court.
Elting’s lawyers even bragged about how this judge awarded everything to Elting and ignored Shawe, saying they felt it was not usual.
There is certainly grounds for appeal to Delaware’s Supreme Court if this case is not equitably resolved. What a shame to have a successful business decimated because of a personal vendetta by one of the partners apparently supported for whatever reason by the Chief Chancellor.
I hope justice prevails and TransPerfect remains intact as a shining example of the success of an American dream. These success stories are few and far between these days.
Always on Delaware’s Side
As always your comments are welcome and subject to being forwarded.
JUDSON Bennett-Coastal Network