Delaware Chancery Court Orders Company and Board Committee Counsel to Provide Privileged Communications to Dissident Director -- Court also Discusses Means by Which Communications Might be Screened from Specific Directors

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The Delaware Court of Chancery, in Kalisman v. Friedman (Apr. 17, 2013), ordered the respective counsels for a company and for a special committee of the company’s board of directors to provide to a dissident director copies of their communications with the company’s other directors, as well as internal law firm communications. The dissident director was a member of a large stockholder that had announced an intent to nominate a competing slate of directors at the company’s next annual meeting, and was a member of the special committee as well as of the board. The communications related to actions taken by the board and the special committee that might otherwise be protected from disclosure to third parties by the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine.

BACKGROUND -

The opinion arises from the proxy contest and related litigation over Morgans Hotel Group. The dissident director, Kalisman, is a member of a large stockholder, OTK, and was first appointed to the Morgans board early in 2011. Later that year, the board formed a special committee to evaluate strategic alternatives, and Kalisman was put on the committee. No significant alternative was adopted, however, and early this year OTK announced that it would nominate a competing slate of directors for the Morgans board.

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