Chancery Shifts Attorneys’ Fees, Reasoning Perjury Is Bad Faith Per Se

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Lyons Ins. Agency Inc. v. Wilson, C.A. No. 2017-0092-SG (Del. Ch. Apr. 29, 2021).

In this action, the Court of Chancery noted that it heard “perhaps the most cogent, and certainly the briefest, argument for fee shifting under the bad faith exception I have been privileged to hear: ‘perjury is bad faith.’” Plaintiff Lyons Insurance Agency Inc. (“Lyons”) sued its former employee Howard Wilson, an insurance broker, for breach of the non-compete in his employment contract. At a hearing for a preliminary injunction, Wilson testified that he needed to follow his clients to another firm because he could not entice them to stay at Lyons. Throughout the litigation, he maintained that he had not intended to rob Lyons of business. But, before a damages hearing, Wilson submitted an affidavit repudiating his earlier testimony. At the damages hearing, he testified that he conspired with the other firm to breach his employment agreement, recanting his earlier testimony.

The Court of Chancery found that Wilson’s conduct delayed the resolution of the action and wasted the resources of both the litigants and the Court. While Delaware courts usually apply the American Rule that requires parties to pay their own fees, the Court here applied an exception that mandates a party acting in bad faith during litigation to pay the fees of the opposing parties.

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