The Delaware Court of Chancery recently explained the public policy involved, and the applicable criteria used by the court, to determine if “claims-splitting” should require the stay or dismissal of one lawsuit when the same parties are pursuing another lawsuit in another forum based on the same operative facts. In Goureau v. Lemonis, C.A. No. 2020-0486-MTZ (Del. Ch. March 30, 2021), the court addressed the many nuances of the various factors that will be applied to determine whether claims-splitting has taken place and whether or not it warrants the stay or dismissal of a lawsuit involving the same parties pursing claims based on the same operative facts in different fora. There are many factually determinative issues that are required to be addressed in the analysis of such an issue and this 34-page decision provides careful treatment of the topic.
Notably, the court acknowledged an exception to the rule against claim-splitting when “a plaintiff could not for jurisdictional reasons present his claim in its entirety in a single action.” See Slip-op at 32.
The court recognized that the Court of Chancery has exclusive jurisdiction over dissolution of a Delaware company but cited to cases where that jurisdiction can be stayed until after claims have been resolved in another court, after which time issues regarding dissolution can be addressed in Chancery. See footnotes 122-124 and accompanying text.