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Mesirov v. Enbridge Energy Co., Inc.

Court of Chancery of Delaware

August 29, 2018

JUDY MESIROV, derivatively and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ENBRIDGE ENERGY COMPANY, INC., ENBRIDGE, INC., ENBRIDGE ENERGY MANAGEMENT, L.L.C., JEFFREY A. CONNELLY, REBECCA B. ROBERTS, DAN A. WESTBROOK, J. RICHARD BIRD, J. HERBERT ENGLAND, C. GREGORY HARPER, D. GUY JARVIS, MARK A. MAKI, JOHN K. WHELEN, ENBRIDGE PIPELINES (ALBERTA CLIPPER) L.L.C., ENBRIDGE ENERGY, LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, and PIPER JAFFRAY & CO. (as successor to SIMMONS & COMPANY INTERNATIONAL), Defendants.

          Submitted: May 30, 2018

          Joel Friedlander, Esquire, Jeffrey M. Gorris, Esquire and Christopher P. Quinn, Esquire of Friedlander & Gorris, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware; Jessica Zeldin, Esquire of Rosenthal, Monhait & Goddess, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware; and Lawrence P. Eagel, Esquire, Jeffrey H. Squire, Esquire and David J. Stone, Esquire of Bragar Eagel & Squire, PC, New York, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Thomas W. Briggs, Jr., Esquire and Richard Li, Esquire of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; and Kevin C. Logue, Esquire, Kevin P. Broughel, Esquire, J. Jeanette Kang, Esquire and Molly L. Leiwant, Esquire of Paul Hastings LLP, New York, New York, Attorneys for Defendants Enbridge Energy Company, Inc., Enbridge Energy Management, L.L.C., Jeffrey A. Connelly, Rebecca B. Roberts, Dan A. Westbrook, Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, and Nominal Defendant Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P.

          Raymond J. DiCamillo, Esquire, Sarah A. Galetta, Esquire and Lisa A. Schmidt, Esquire of Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware; Michael H. Steinberg, Esquire, Lauren M. Cruz, Esquire and Zachary A. Sarnoff, Esquire of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Los Angeles, California; and Penny Shane, Esquire and Yuliya Neverova, Esquire of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, New York, New York, Attorneys for Defendants Enbridge, Inc., J. Richard Bird, J. Herbert England, C. Gregory Harper, D. Guy Jarvis, Mark A. Maki, John K. Whelen, and Enbridge Pipelines (Alberta Clipper) L.L.C.

          T. Brad Davey, Esquire, Matthew F. Davis, Esquire and Jacqueline A. Rogers, Esquire of Potter, Anderson & Corroon LLP, Wilmington, Delaware and Abby F. Rudzin, Esquire of O'Melveny & Myers LLP, New York, New York, Attorneys for Defendant Piper Jaffray & Co. (as successor to Simmons & Company International).

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SLIGHTS, Vice Chancellor.

         "It's déjà vu all over again." "Thank you sir, may I have another?" Given the procedural history of this three-year-old case, it is difficult to say who as between Yogi Berra or Kevin Bacon best captures the redundancy of the latest round of pleadings-stage dispositive motions that I endeavor to decide, again, in the following pages. What is not difficult to discern, however, is that I have seen many of the arguments presented in the motions sub judice before. That much was clear from the first pages of the Enbridge defendants' opening brief. In ruling on the first motion to dismiss, I followed the defendants' flag and dismissed the then-operative complaint for failure to state legally viable claims. Our Supreme Court reversed and remanded with clear instructions. Notwithstanding these clear instructions, defendants bring motions to dismiss the current version of the complaint on many of the same grounds our Supreme Court has already rejected. Those grounds will find no revival here.

         The case arises from a related-party transaction where a master limited partnership, Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. ("EEP" or the "Partnership"), repurchased a substantial asset from its general partner, Enbridge Energy Company, Inc. ("EEP GP"), for $1.0 billion (the "Transaction).[1] EEP had sold the same asset to the controlling parent of EEP GP at a substantially lower price approximately six years before the Transaction. That deal spawned its own litigation, and that litigation produced certain rulings from this court and the Delaware Supreme Court that are directly relevant here.

         Drawing in part upon rulings in the earlier litigation, I dismissed the first class and derivative complaint brought by an EEP unitholder on the ground that it failed to state claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of EEP's limited partnership agreement (the "LPA") or breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.[2] As noted, in an opinion that provided needed clarity in the alternative entity space, the Supreme Court reversed, provided certain definitive constructions of the LPA, defined the boundaries of the contractual good faith standard imposed by that contract and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its guidance.[3]Since then, I have granted leave for a new party to be substituted as lead class plaintiff and for the filing of further amendments to the complaint.

         Defendants have returned to the well with another motion to dismiss the now-operative complaint for failure to state viable claims under Court of Chancery Rule 12(b)(6) and for failure to comply with Court of Chancery Rule 23.1. For reasons explained below, I conclude that, with few exceptions, Defendants' arguments in support of dismissal have already been addressed, and rejected, by the Supreme Court. Those rulings, relating to the scope of EEP GP's potential liability to EEP under the LPA, cannot and will not be revisited here.

         Unfortunately, the dismissal in this Court and reversal by the Supreme Court appear to have caused confusion with respect to the viability of claims against defined "Affiliates" of EEP GP for breach of the LPA.[4] This confusion apparently prompted Plaintiff to abandon those claims in the TAC and to replace them with certain "secondary liability" claims against those same "Affiliates."[5] Upon further review of the LPA, I am satisfied that I incorrectly dismissed claims against the Affiliates for breach of the LPA in Brinckerhoff IV.[6] As best I can tell, the Supreme Court recognized that error, at least implicitly, in Brinckerhoff V.[7] With that said, Plaintiff's secondary liability claims against the Affiliates must fail because those parties cannot aid and abet a breach of, or tortiously interfere with, a contract under which they themselves owe duties. Nor do they owe residual fiduciary duties beyond the contractual fiduciary duties set forth in the LPA. While these secondary liability claims will be dismissed, Plaintiff will be given leave to reinstate its breach of the LPA claim against the Affiliates.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         I draw the facts[8] from the allegations in the TAC, documents incorporated by reference or integral to that pleading and judicially noticeable facts.[9] For purposes of this motion to dismiss, I accept as true the TAC's well-pled factual allegations and draw all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor.[10]

         A. The Parties

         Plaintiff, Peter Brinckerhoff Rev. Tr. U.A. DTD 10/17/97, has been an owner of EEP Class A common limited partnership units at all relevant times.[11] The TAC filed on his behalf purports to assert both direct and derivative claims.

         Nominal defendant, EEP, is a publicly traded Delaware master limited partnership. Formed in 1991, EEP's purpose is to own and operate the United States portion of a crude oil and liquid petroleum pipeline system extending from the tar sands oil production fields in Western Canada, through the Great Lakes region of the United States and into eastern Canada.[12]

         Plaintiff has named multiple Enbridge entities as defendants. Defendant, EEP GP, is a Delaware corporation and EEP's general partner.[13] Defendant, Enbridge Energy Management, L.L.C. ("Enbridge Management"), is a publicly traded Delaware limited liability company that manages the business and affairs of EEP.[14] EEP GP owns 100% of the voting shares and 11.7% of the listed shares (i.e., LLC membership interests) of Enbridge Management.[15] EEP GP and Enbridge Management collectively own a 52.8% limited partnership interest in EEP.[16]Defendant, Enbridge, Inc. ("Enbridge"), is a Canadian corporation that indirectly owns 100% of, and controls, EEP GP.[17] As such, Enbridge controls, indirectly through EEP GP and Enbridge Management, a 52.8% limited partnership interest in EEP.[18] Defendants, Enbridge Pipelines (Alberta Clipper) L.L.C. and Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, are parties to certain agreements relating to the Transaction that Plaintiff seeks to reform.[19] Both entities are "under the common control of Enbridge and EEP GP."[20]

         At the time of the Transaction, all of EEP GP's directors and officers held identical positions at Enbridge Management.[21] EEP GP's (and Enbridge Management's) board at that time comprised nine directors, all of whom are named defendants: Jeffrey A. Connelly, Rebecca B. Roberts, Dan A. Westbrook, J. Herbert England, J. Richard Bird, C. Gregory Harper, Mark A. Maki, John K. Whelen and D. Guy Jarvis (collectively, the "Director Defendants").[22] Connelly, Roberts and Westbrook were the members of the EEP GP special committee that was formed to negotiate the Transaction (the "Special Committee").[23]

         Defendant, Piper Jaffray & Co., a Delaware corporation, is the successor by merger to Simmons & Company International ("Simmons"), the entity that served as financial advisor to the Special Committee.[24] It is alleged that Simmons specialized in "issuing fairness opinions on conflicted transactions between master limited partnerships and their controlling sponsor entities."[25]

         B. The Alberta Clipper Transaction

         The Transaction involved EEP's repurchase of a 66.67% interest in the United States segment of the Alberta Clipper pipeline (the "AC Interest") for $1.0 billion from EEP GP.[26] The TAC identifies three metrics by which the Special Committee and Simmons knew that EEP was overpaying for the AC Interest.

         First, in July 2009, EEP GP purchased from EEP the same AC Interest, including a right to expand the Alberta Clipper (US) pipeline (the "Expansion Right") for $800 million, which represented a multiple of 7x projected EBITDA for the AC Interest (the "2009 Sale").[27] The Expansion Right included rights to projects that would increase the Alberta Clipper (US) pipeline's throughput capacity from 450, 000 bpd to 800, 000 bpd, a 78% increase in capacity.[28] In contrast to the 2009 Sale, the Transaction price of $1.0 billion represents a multiple of 10.7x projected EBITDA for the AC Interest.[29] While the purchase price increased substantially, the AC Interest's projected EBITDA between 2009 and 2015 decreased by almost 20%.[30] This dramatic decline in value can be attributed to the fact that Canadian crude oil prices had plummeted, tariffs under which the AC Interest transports crude oil were shortened by six years (the passage of time between 2009 and 2015), and the tariff agreement was to be "rebased" shortly after the Transaction would close.[31]

         Second, the Alberta Clipper (US) pipeline operates under a cost-of-service model that allows it to recover its costs over the expected life of the pipeline.[32]In this regard, the pipeline's current "rate base," which is the remaining capital investment in the pipeline that has not already been recovered, is a meaningful proxy for its current market and fair value.[33] The pipeline's average rate base was approximately $1.06 billion in 2014 and $1.01 billion in 2015, thus implying that the market and fair value of the AC Interest (two-thirds of the pipeline) was between $674 million and $707 million at the time of the Transaction.[34]

         Third, in a September 12, 2014 memorandum, EEP GP management explained to the EEP GP board that the discounted cash flow equity value of the AC Interest was $478 million.[35] Based on this valuation, at the $1.0 billion nominal Transaction price, which consisted of $694 million in newly issued Class E units and early repayment of a promissory note in the amount of $306 million, [36] EEP paid approximately 45% above EEP GP management's DCF equity value of the AC Interest.[37]

         The TAC also alleges that the Transaction was not fair and reasonable to EEP and its public unitholders because EEP GP received disproportionate benefits that the Director Defendants did not consider when approving the Transaction.[38]Specifically, EEP paid the equity portion of the purchase price by issuing to EEP GP 18, 114, 975 shares of a new class of EEP partnership interests designated as "Class E Units."[39] The Class E Units allegedly have unique tax benefits resulting from the allocation of approximately 62% of gross income associated with the Transaction away from the Class E units to other unit holders (the "Special Tax Allocation").[40]Moreover, the Class E Units have a "Liquidation Preference" that the Class A units do not enjoy. Nevertheless, the Special Committee approved the Transaction without valuing the additional consideration the Liquidation Preference and Special Tax Allocation would provide to EEP GP.[41]

         The Special Committee hired Simmons as its financial advisor to evaluate whether the Transaction "was representative of an arm's length transaction."[42]Simmons' fairness opinion stated that the Transaction was fair from a financial point of view.[43] According to Plaintiff, Simmons' analysis ignored the 2009 Sale, the already-exploited Expansion Right with no promise of further expansion rights, the 20% drop in the AC Interest's EBITDA, a shorter tariff term, a cost rebasing in July 2015, the rate base as a meaningful proxy for the AC Interest's current market and fair value, EEP GP's 2014 DCF analysis and the value of the Special Tax Allocation and Liquidation Preference to EEP GP.[44]

         C. The LPA

         The LPA addresses EEP's relationship with EEP GP and the Affiliates and memorializes EEP's governance structure. The provisions relevant to this dispute are: Section 6.6(e):

Neither the General Partner nor any of its Affiliates shall sell, transfer or convey any property to, or purchase any property from, the Partnership, directly or indirectly, except pursuant to transactions that are fair and reasonable to the Partnership; provided however, that the requirements of this Section 6.6(e) shall be deemed to be satisfied . . . as to any transaction on the terms of which are no less favorable to the Partnership than those generally being provided to or available from unrelated third parties.[45]

Section 6.8(a):

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary set forth in this Agreement, no Indemnitee shall be liable for monetary damages to the Partnership, the Limited Partners, the Assignees or any other Persons who have acquired interests in the Units, for losses sustained or liabilities incurred as a result of any act or omission if such Indemnitee acted in good faith.[46]

Section 6.9(c):

Whenever a particular transaction . . . is required under this Agreement to be "fair and reasonable" to any Person, the fair and reasonable nature of such transaction . . . shall be considered in the context of all similar or related transactions.

Section 6.10(b):

[EEP GP] may consult with [advisors], and any act taken or omitted in reliance upon the opinion . . . of such [advisor's] professional or expert competence shall be conclusively presumed to have been done or omitted in good faith and in accordance with such opinion.

Section 6.10(d):

Any standard of care and duty imposed by this Agreement or under the Delaware Act or any applicable law, rule or regulation shall be modified, waived or limited as required to permit the General Partner to act under this Agreement . . . and to make any decision pursuant to the authority prescribed in this Agreement, so long as such action is reasonably believed by the General Partner to be in the best interests of the Partnership.

Section 6.15(b):

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary set forth in this Agreement . . . Sections 6.1, . . . 6.6 . . . [and] 6.10 shall apply to [Enbridge Management] to the same extent as such provisions apply to the General Partner.

         D. Plaintiff Challenges the Transaction - Brinckerhoff IV

         Plaintiff filed his first complaint challenging the Transaction on June 20, 2015. On April 29, 2016, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion (Brinckerhoff IV) in which it dismissed Plaintiff's then-operative complaint upon concluding that EEP GP complied in all respects with the provisions of the LPA in connection with the Transaction. The Court also concluded that Enbridge, Enbridge Management and the Director Defendants could not be held liable for breach of a contract (the LPA) to which they were not parties and, in any event, could not be held liable for money damages unless Plaintiff well-pled that they acted in bad faith (which, the Court held, he had failed to do).[47] Finally, having dismissed the contract-based claims, the Court also dismissed Plaintiff's claims for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of residual fiduciary duties and his claim for reformation or rescission.[48]

         E. The Supreme Court Reversal and Remand - Brinckerhoff V

         On March 28, 2017, the Supreme Court reversed, in part, Brinckerhoff IV, concluding that: (1) this Court had misinterpreted EEP GP's and the Affiliates' affirmative obligations under the LPA[49]; (2) the Transaction is "expressly governed by Section 6.6(e)"[50]; (3) Plaintiff sufficiently pled bad faith because he pled facts "supporting an inference that EEP GP did not reasonably believe it was acting in the best interest of the partnership" in approving the Transaction[51]; (4) the Special Tax Allocation did not violate Sections 5.2(c) and 15.3(b) of the LPA[52]; (5) Enbridge was an "Affiliate" of EEP GP[53]; and (6) reformation or rescission remain viable equitable remedies that may be awarded in the Court's discretion upon a finding of breach.[54] The Court concluded by "remand[ing] the matter for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion."[55]

         F. Procedural Posture

         After Brinckerhoff V, Plaintiff amended the complaint three more times, and each amendment was met with a motion to dismiss from Defendants. At issue here is the third amendment, the TAC. That pleading comprises eight counts: Count I asserts breach of the LPA and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against only EEP GP and Enbridge Management (having previously dropped this claim as against Enbridge and the Director Defendants following Brinckerhoff IV); Counts II, III, V, VII and VIII assert aiding and abetting and tortious interference with EEP GP's performance of the LPA against Enbridge, the Director Defendants, Enbridge Management and Simmons; Count IV asserts breach of residual fiduciary duties against Enbridge and the Director Defendants; and Count VI seeks reformation or rescission of the Transaction.[56]

         The TAC expands on the factual allegations set forth in the first complaint. Thus, the TAC continues to allege the following well-pled facts that were central to the Supreme Court's rulings in Brinckerhoff V:

• Enbridge controls a 52.8% limited partnership interest in EEP[57];
• the Transaction did not include Expansion Rights, unlike the 2009 transaction which included expansion projects that would increase the Alberta Clipper (US) pipeline's throughput capacity from 450, 000 to 800, 000 bpd, a 78% increase in capacity[58];
• during the time period between the 2009 Sale and the Transaction, the AC Interest "had become much riskier" for a variety of reasons, as reflected in the Alberta Clipper project's nearly 20% decrease in projected EBITDA. Further, tariffs on the Alberta Clipper faced increased risk that they would be rebased with long-term negative effects on revenue. Despite this negative environment, on September 16, 2014, Enbridge proposed a sale of the AC Interest, excluding the earlier Expansion Right, to EEP for $1.0 billion, a multiple of 10.7x projected EBITDA[59];
• "EEP paid $200 million more to repurchase the same assets it sold in 2009, despite declining EBITDA, slumping oil prices, and the absence of the expansion rights sold in 2009…. [and] through the Special Tax Allocation, EEP GP added hundreds of millions of dollars more in benefits for Enbridge to the detriment of the public unitholders."[60]
• EEP GP and Enbridge Management knew (through the Director Defendants) when approving the Transaction that: (a) they did not consider the 2009 transaction despite express direction in the LPA that they do so[61]; (b) Enbridge changed its valuation methodology in 2014 when it valued the AC Interest as a multiple of EBITDA, as compared to 2009, when it valued the AC Interest at cost[62]; (c) they failed to consider that the AC Interest's projected next year EBITDA was 20% lower than it was in 2009, while the asset was valued 25% higher in 2009[63]; (d) they failed to negotiate the purchase price despite the negative oil pricing environment, Enbridge's control over the volume flowing through the pipeline and shorter tariff agreements[64]; (e) they failed to value the Special Tax Allocation benefits to EEP GP, and the corresponding financial detriment to the unaffiliated unitholders[65]; (f) they failed to take into consideration the lack of the Expansion Right sold in 2009[66]; and (g) they relied on a flawed fairness opinion from Simmons.[67]

         Defendants have moved to dismiss the TAC both for failure to make a demand on the EEP GP board to prosecute the derivative claims and for failure to state legally viable claims.[68]

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

         The many chapters of the Brinckerhoff saga, in one form or another, each recite the applicable standards of review. I'll not repeat them at length here. Suffice it to say, under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1(a), "the complaint shall [] allege with particularity the efforts, if any, made by the plaintiff to obtain the action the plaintiff desires from the directors or comparable authority and the reasons for the plaintiff's failure to obtain the action or for not making the effort."[69] Under Court of Chancery Rule 12(b)(6), dismissal is appropriate only if the plaintiff would be unable to recover under "any reasonably conceivable set of circumstances susceptible of proof" based on the facts pled in the complaint.[70]

         A. Demand Futility Was Well-Pled

         The well-pled factual allegations in the TAC mirror those pled in the first complaint that was addressed in Brinckerhoff IV.[71] There, this Court held that the complaint adequately pled demand futility.[72] Brinckerhoff V did not disturb this finding. Accordingly, it is law of the case that Plaintiff has pled sufficient facts to excuse demand upon EEP GP.[73]

         B. The Direct Breach of Contract Claims Must Be Dismissed

         The TAC purports to state both direct and derivative claims for breach of the LPA. "The Tooley[74] direct/derivative test is substantially the same for claims involving limited partnerships."[75] Under Tooley,

whether a claim is solely derivative or may continue as a dual-natured claim "must turn solely on the following questions: (1) who suffered the alleged harm (the corporation or the suing stockholders, individually); and (2) who would receive the benefit of any recovery or other remedy (the corporation or the stockholders, individually)?"[76]

         Somewhere between the direct and derivative claim lies the "dual-natured claim," which arises where:

(1) a stockholder having majority or effective control causes the corporation to issue 'excessive' shares of its stock in exchange for assets of the controlling stockholder that have a lesser value; and (2) the exchange causes an increase in the percentage of the outstanding shares owned by the controlling shareholder, and a corresponding decrease in the share percentage owned by the public (minority) shareholders.[77]

         Stated differently, dual-natured claims concern "a controlling shareholder and transactions that resulted in an improper transfer of both economic value and voting power from the minority stockholders to the controlling stockholder."[78]

         In El Paso, the Court observed that "[t]he core theory of Brinckerhoff's complaint was that the Partnership was injured when the defendants caused [the Partnership] to pay too much in the [Transaction]."[79] The same is true here. As explained in El Paso,

Such claims of corporate overpayment are normally treated as causing harm solely to the corporation and, thus, are regarded as derivative. In Tooley terms, the harm is to the corporation, because such claims "naturally assert that the corporation's funds have been wrongfully depleted, which, though harming the corporation directly, harms the stockholders only derivatively so far as their stock loses value." The recovery-"restoration of the improperly reduced value"-flows to the corporation.[80]

         The TAC does not contain a single allegation regarding voting harm (in addition to economic harm) such that it could viably plead a dual-natured claim. This is not surprising given that the Transaction involved EEP's acquisition of a discreet asset, albeit from a controller. Moreover, "to prove that a claim is direct, a plaintiff 'must demonstrate that the duty breached was owed to the stockholder and that he or she can prevail without showing an injury to the corporation.'"[81]Section 6.6(e) states that in a conflicted transaction, such as the Transaction at issue here, the "General Partner or any Affiliate" has a duty to act in a manner that is "fair and reasonable to the Partnership."[82] One of the ways in which EEP GP and the Affiliates can meet that duty is if the Transaction terms are "no less favorable to the Partnership than those being provided to or available from unrelated third parties."[83]Indeed, by its terms, Section 6.6(e) does not grant any protections directly to EEP's individual unitholders. Accordingly, a breach of Section 6.6(e), as alleged here, cannot give rise to a direct claim. To the extent the TAC purports to state direct claims for harm flowing from the Transaction, the motion to dismiss those claims must be granted.

         C. The Derivative Claims for Breach of Contract Survive Dismissal

         As for Plaintiff's derivative claim for breach of contract against EEP GP as stated in Count I, the Supreme Court has already held that Plaintiff's allegations in the first Complaint (which are still present in the TAC) "are sufficient to state a claim for breach of the requirements of Section 6.6(e)."[84] This is the law of the case and I see absolutely no basis to revisit it.[85] Accordingly, Defendants' motion to dismiss this aspect of Count I must be denied.

         D. Brinckerhoff IV Incorrectly Dismissed the Breach of the LPA Claim Against "Affiliates" and "Indemnitees"

         "[T]he . . . Transaction is expressly governed by Section 6.6(e)."[86] And, as described by the Supreme Court, the Transaction involved EEP, EEP GP and EEP GP Affiliates (Enbridge and Enbridge Management):

The Alberta Clipper transaction is a contract with an Affiliate (Enbridge) to sell property (Alberta Clipper Interest) back to the Partnership (EEP). Section 6.6, entitled "Contracts with Affiliates," and in particular Section 6.6(e), directly addresses the affirmative obligation EEP GP must satisfy for such transactions: "[n]either the General Partner nor any of its Affiliates shall sell, transfer or convey any property to, or purchase any property from, the Partnership, directly or indirectly, except pursuant to transactions that are fair and reasonable to the Partnership."[87]

         In Brinkerhoff I, the court likewise concluded that Enbridge was an Affiliate under the LPA:

The LPA states that "'Affiliate' means, with respect to any Person, any other Person that directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by or is under common control with, the Person in question." Enbridge is alleged to control EEP GP, and thus, for the purposes of a motion to dismiss, Enbridge is an 'Affiliate' of EEP GP.[88]

         Enbridge's status as an EEP GP Affiliate is significant under Section 6.6(e) because, like EEP GP, Enbridge was obliged not to "sell, transfer or convey any property to, or purchase any property from" EEP "except pursuant to transactions that are fair and reasonable to [EEP]."[89]

         As noted in Brinckerhoff I, the LPA "does not stop there."[90] At Section 6.8(a), the LPA provides:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary set forth in this Agreement, no Indemnitee shall be liable for monetary damages to the Partnership, the Limited Partners, the Assignees or any other Persons who have acquired interests in the Units, for losses sustained or liabilities incurred as a result of any act or omission if such Indemnitee acted in good faith.[91]

         "The LPA defines 'Indemnitee' to include '[EEP GP], any person who is an Affiliate of [EEP GP] [to include Enbridge and Enbridge Management] . . . [and] any Person who is or was an officer, director, employee, partner, agent or trustee of [EEP GP] . . . [to include the Director Defendants].'"[92] Brinckerhoff I continued:

Read together, Article 6.8(a) and the LPA's definitions of "Indemnitee" and "Affiliate" provide that the only duty that EEP or its unit holders may successfully hold the Defendants monetarily liable for is a breach of the duty to act in good faith. The LPA's definition of "Indemnitee" includes EEP GP, EEP GP's Board, and "Affiliates" of EEP GP. As mentioned above, Enbridge is an "Affiliate" of EEP GP because Enbridge is alleged to control EEP GP. Moreover, Enbridge Management is an "Affiliate" of EEP GP because it is alleged to be "under common control with" EEP GP. Thus, EEP GP, EEP GP's Board, Enbridge, and Enbridge Management is each an "Indemnitee" for purposes of the LPA, and Article 6.8(a) explicitly states that an "Indemnitee" will not be liable to EEP or its unit holders for any actions taken in good faith.[93]

         With this construction in mind, Brinckerhoff I concluded:

With regard to the other Defendants [Enbridge, Enbridge Management and the Director Defendants], EEP or its unit holders may only, under the LPA, successfully hold them monetarily liable for a breach of the duty to act in good faith. Thus, in order to survive the Defendants' motions to dismiss, Brinckerhoff must plead facts suggesting that the Defendants acted in bad faith.[94]

         In Brinckerhoff IV, I held that claims against defendants other than EEP GP under the LPA could not be sustained since none of the other defendants is a party to the LPA.[95] According to Brinckerhoff I, as affirmed by Brinckerhoff III and again implicitly by Brinckerhoff V, this holding in Brinckerhoff IV was wrong. Claims against the Affiliates and Indemnitees under the LPA will survive dismissal if the Plaintiff has well-pled that they acted in bad faith. And Brinckerhoff V already held that Plaintiff "has pled viable claims that the defendants acted in bad faith when undertaking the [Transaction]."[96] Thus, Plaintiff's claims against Enbridge, Enbridge Management and the Director Defendants for breach of the LPA may be reasserted in an amended complaint should Plaintiff choose to reinstate them.[97]

         E. This Court's Prior Dismissal of the Breach of the Implied Covenant Claims Remains in Place

         With regard to EEP GP's, Enbridge Management's (and, if amended, the Affiliates' and Indemnitees') alleged breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, Brinckerhoff V held that "the Alberta Clipper transaction is expressly governed by Section 6.6(e)."[98] Accordingly, the Supreme Court left undisturbed this Court's determination that "the LPA contemplates each breach alleged in the Complaint" and that there was "no reasonable basis to allow the implied covenant claims to stand."[99] In keeping with the law of the case, to the extent the TAC purports to state a claim for breach of the implied covenant (in Count I or elsewhere), Defendants' motion to dismiss that claim must be granted.

         F. The "Secondary Claims" for Aiding and Abetting Breach of Contractual Fiduciary Duties, Tortious Interference with Contract and Breach of Residual Fiduciary Duties Against the Affiliates and Indemnitees Are Dismissed

         Plaintiff alleges in Count II that Enbridge and the Director Defendants aided and abetted EEP GP and Enbridge Management's breaches of contractual fiduciary duties.[100] At Count V, Plaintiff alleges that if Enbridge Management is not liable for breach of contractual fiduciary duties, it is liable as an aider and abettor.[101]At Count III, Plaintiff alleges that Enbridge and the Director Defendants tortiously interfered with EEP GP's performance of the LPA.[102] Plaintiff also claims, in the alternative, that if Enbridge Management is not liable for breach of contract, it is liable for tortious interference with contract.[103] And then, at Count IV, Plaintiff alleges that Enbridge and the Director Defendants breached residual fiduciary duties.[104] For reasons explained below, these secondary claims fail as a matter of law.

         1. Aiding and Abetting Breach of Contractual Fiduciary Duties

         Delaware law generally does not recognize a claim for aiding and abetting a breach of contract.[105] When a contract embraces a fiduciary standard of conduct, however, one who aids and abets a breach of that standard can be held liable for aiding and abetting a breach of a "contractual fiduciary duty."[106] Even so, in the master limited partnership context, this court has made clear that when the limited partnership agreement expressly eliminates all fiduciary duties, there can be no "contractual fiduciary duty" and, therefore, there can be no aiding and abetting a breach of that duty.[107] In the shadow of this settled law, the viability (or not) of Plaintiff's aiding and abetting claims, at least at the threshold, turns on whether the LPA expressly eliminated all fiduciary duties, including contractual duties.[108]

         According to Plaintiff, "[t]he [Supreme] Court [has already] interpreted the 'fair and reasonable' standard [in Section 6.6(e)] as something similar, if not equivalent, to entire fairness review, a contractual fiduciary standard. . . ."[109] Even a cursory review of Brinckerhoff V reveals that this is, in fact, precisely what the Supreme Court said.[110] Indeed, contrary to the LPA at issue in Dieckman (invoked by defendants here), which expressly eliminated all fiduciary duties (contractual or at common law), [111] Section 6.10(d) of the LPA modifies, waives or limits common law duties in favor of a contractual scheme that imports familiar fiduciary standards:

Any standard of care and duty imposed by this Agreement or under the Delaware Act of any applicable law, rule or regulation shall be modified, waived or limited as required to permit the General Partner to act under this Agreement and any other agreement contemplated by this Agreement and to make any decision pursuant to the authority prescribed in this Agreement, so long as such action ...

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