In Branin v. Stein Roe Inv. Counsel, LLC, C.A. 8481-VCN, 2014 WL 2961084 (Del. Ch. June 30, 2014), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that a vested right to indemnification may not be rescinded by a subsequent amendment to the governing corporate document.
Francis S. Branin Jr. (“Branin”) owned and managed the investment management firm Brundage, Story & Rose, which was sold to Bessemer Trust, N.A. (“Bessemer”) in 2000. Nearly two years later, Branin left Bessemer and was hired by Stein Roe Investment Counsel LLC (“SRIC”), taking former clients with him. Bessemer proceeded to sue Branin under New York’s Mohawk Doctrine, which refers to an implied covenant imposed on the seller of a business that prevents the seller from approaching former customers and attempting to regain their patronage after the seller has purported to transfer the sold business’ goodwill to the purchaser. As a result of the legal claim by Bessemer, Branin sought indemnification under the directors and officers indemnification provisions of the operating agreement of SRIC (the “Operating Agreement”).