Commitments and Contingencies
|3 Months Ended|
Mar. 31, 2023
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES||
NOTE 8 - COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
Litigation and Other Loss Contingencies
The Company records liabilities for loss contingencies arising from claims, assessments, litigation, fines, penalties and other sources when it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated. The Company has no liabilities recorded for loss contingencies as of December 31, 2022.
Action Against Former Executive of KBL
On September 1, 2021, the Company initiated legal action in the Chancery Court of Delaware against Dr. Marlene Krauss, the Company’s former Chief Executive Officer and director (“Dr. Krauss”) and two of her affiliated companies, KBL IV Sponsor, LLC and KBL Healthcare Management, Inc. (collectively, the “KBL Affiliates”) for, among other things, engaging in unauthorized monetary transfers of the Company’s assets, non-disclosure of financial liabilities within the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements, issuing shares of stock without proper authorization; and improperly allowing stockholder redemptions to take place. The Company’s complaint alleges causes of action against Dr. Krauss and/or the KBL Affiliates for breach of fiduciary duties, ultra vires acts, unjust enrichment, negligence and declaratory relief, and seeks compensatory damages in excess of $11,286,570, together with interest, attorneys’ fees and costs. There can be no assurance that the Company will be successful in its legal actions.
On October 5, 2021, Dr. Krauss and the KBL Affiliates filed an Answer, Counterclaims and Third-Party Complaint (the “Krauss Counterclaims”) against the Company and twelve individuals who are, or were, directors and/or officers of the Company, i.e., Marc Feldmann, Lawrence Steinman, James N. Woody, Teresa DeLuca, Frank Knuettel II, Pamela Marrone, Lawrence Gold, Donald A. McGovern, Jr., Russell T. Ray, Richard W. Barker, Shoshana Shendelman and Ozan Pamir (collectively, the “Third-Party Defendants”). On October 27, 2021, the Company and Ozan Pamir filed an Answer to the Krauss Counterclaims, and all of the other Third-Party Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss as to the Third-Party Complaint.
On January 28, 2022, in lieu of filing an opposition to the Motion to Dismiss, Dr. Krauss and the KBL Affiliates filed a Motion for leave to file amended counterclaims and third-party complaint, and to dismiss six of the current and former directors previously named, i.e., to dismiss Teresa DeLuca, Frank Knuettel II, Pamela Marrone, Russell T. Ray, Richard W. Barker and Shoshana Shendelman. The Motion was granted by stipulation and, on February 24, 2022, Dr. Krauss filed an amended Answer, Counterclaims and Third-Party Complaint (the “Amended Counterclaims”). In essence, the Amended Counterclaims allege (a) that the Company and the remaining Third-Party Defendants breached fiduciary duties to Dr. Krauss by making alleged misstatements against Dr. Krauss in SEC filings and failing to register her shares in the Company so that they could be traded, and (b) the Company breached contracts between the Company and Dr. Krauss for registration of such shares, and also failed to pay to Dr. Krauss the amounts alleged to be owing under a promissory note in the principal amount of $371,178, plus an additional $300,000 under Dr. Krauss’s resignation agreement. The Amended Counterclaims seek unspecified amounts of monetary damages, declaratory relief, equitable and injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees and costs.
On March 16, 2022, Donald A. McGovern, Jr. and Lawrence Gold filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Counterclaims against them, and the Company and the remaining Third-Party Defendants filed an Answer to the Amended Counterclaims denying the same. On April 19, 2022, Dr. Krauss stipulated to dismiss all of her counterclaims and allegations against both Donald A. McGovern, Jr. and Lawrence Gold, thereby mooting their Motion to Dismiss the Amended Counterclaims against them. The Company and the Third-Party Defendants intend to continue to vigorously defend against all of the Amended Counterclaims, however, there can be no assurance that they will be successful in the legal defense of such Amended Counterclaims. In April 2022, Donald A. McGovern, Jr. and Lawrence Gold were dismissed from the lawsuit as parties. Discovery has not yet commenced in the case. The Company and the Third-Party Defendants intend to continue to vigorously defend against all of the Amended Counterclaims, however, there can be no assurance that they will be successful in the legal defense of such Amended Counterclaims.
Action Against the Company by Dr. Krauss
On August 19, 2021, Dr. Krauss initiated legal action in the Chancery Court of Delaware against the Company. The original Complaint sought expedited relief and made the following two claims: (1) it alleged that the Company is obligated to advance expenses including, attorney’s fees, to Dr. Krauss for the costs of defending against the SEC and certain Subpoenas served by the SEC on Dr. Krauss; and (2) it alleged that the Company is also required to reimburse Dr. Krauss for the costs of bringing this lawsuit against the Company. On or about September 3, 2021, Dr. Krauss filed an Amended and Supplemental Complaint (the “Amended Complaint”) in this action, which added the further claims that Dr. Krauss is also allegedly entitled to advancement by the Company of her expenses, including attorney’s fees, for the costs of defending against the Third-Party Complaint in the Tyche Capital LLC action referenced below, and the costs of defending against the Company’s own Complaint against Dr. Krauss as described above. On or about September 23, 2021, the Company filed its Answer to the Amended Complaint in which the Company denied each of Dr. Krauss’ claims and further raised numerous affirmative defenses with respect thereto.
On November 15, 2021, Dr. Krauss filed a Motion for Summary Adjudication as to certain of the issues in the case, which was opposed by the Company. A hearing on such Motion was held on December 7, 2021, and, on March 7, 2022, the Court issued a decision in the matter denying the Motion for Summary Adjudication in part and granting it in part. The Court then issued an Order implementing such a decision on March 29, 2022. The parties are now engaging in proceedings set forth in that implementing Order. The Court granted Dr. Krauss’s request for advancement of some of the legal fees which Dr. Krauss requested in her Motion, and the Company was required to pay a portion of those fees while it objects to the remaining portion of disputed fees. These legal fees have been accrued on the Company’s balance sheet.
On October 10, 2022, Dr. Krauss filed an Application to compel the Company to pay the full amount of fees requested by Dr. Krauss for May-July 2022, and to modify the Court’s Order. The Company filed its Opposition thereto. On January 18, 2023, Dr. Krauss filed a Second Application to compel the Company to pay the full amount of fees requested by Dr. Krauss for August-October 2022, and to modify the Court's Order. The Company filed its Opposition thereto. On May 3, 2023, the Court issued an Order granting both of Dr. Krauss’s Applications for payment of the full amount of requested attorney’s fees for the months of May through October 2022. Notwithstanding the Order, such ruling does not constitute any final adjudication as to whether Dr. Krauss will ultimately be entitled to permanently retain such advancements, and Dr. Krauss has posted an undertaking with the Court affirmatively promising to repay all such amounts if she is eventually found to be liable for the Company’s and/or the SEC’s claims against her. The Company is seeking payment for a substantial portion of such amounts from its director and officers’ insurance policy, of which no assurance can be provided that the directors and officers insurance policy will cover such amounts. See “Declaratory Relief Action Against the Company by AmTrust International” below.
Action Against Tyche Capital LLC
The Company commenced and filed an action against defendant Tyche Capital LLC (“Tyche”) in the Supreme Court of New York, in the County of New York, on April 15, 2021. In its Complaint, the Company alleged claims against Tyche arising out of Tyche’s breach of its written contractual obligations to the Company as set forth in a “Guarantee and Commitment Agreement” dated July 25, 2019, and a “Term Sheet For KBL Business Combination With CannBioRex” dated April 10, 2019 (collectively, the “Subject Guarantee”). The Company alleges in its Complaint that, notwithstanding demand having been made on Tyche to perform its obligations under the Subject Guarantee, Tyche has failed and refused to do so, and is currently in debt to the Company for such failure in the amount of $6,776,686, together with interest accruing thereon at the rate set forth in the Subject Guarantee.
On or about May 17, 2021, Tyche responded to the Company’s Complaint by filing an Answer and Counterclaims against the Company alleging that it was the Company, rather than Tyche, that had breached the Subject Guarantee. Tyche also filed a Third-Party Complaint against six third-party defendants, including three members of the Company’s management, Sir Marc Feldmann, Dr. James Woody, and Ozan Pamir (collectively, the “Individual Company Defendants”), claiming that they allegedly breached fiduciary duties to Tyche with regards to the Subject Guarantee. In that regard, on June 25, 2021, each of the Individual Company Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Tyche’s Third-Party Complaint against them.
On November 23, 2021, the Court granted the Company’s request to issue an Order of attachment against all of Tyche’s shares of the Company’s stock that had been held in escrow. In so doing, the Court found that the Company had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of the case based on the facts alleged in the Company’s Complaint.
On February 18, 2022, Tyche filed an Amended Answer, Counterclaims and Third-Party Complaint. On March 22, 2022, the Company and each of the Individual Company Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss all of Tyche’s claims. A hearing on such Motion to Dismiss was held on August 25, 2022, and the Court granted the Motion to Dismiss entirely as to each of the Individual Company Defendants, and also as to three of the four Counterclaims brought against the Company, only leaving Tyche’s declaratory relief claim. On September 9, 2022, Tyche filed a Notice of Appeal as to the Court’s decision, which has never been briefed or adjudicated. On August 26, 2022, Tyche filed a Motion to vacate or modify the Company’s existing attachment Order against Tyche’s shares of the Company’s stock held in escrow. The Company has filed its Opposition thereto, and the Court summarily denied such Motion without hearing on January 3, 2023. Tyche subsequently filed a Notice of Appeal as to that denial and filed its Opening Brief on January 30, 2023. The Company filed its opposition brief on March 2, 2023, and the matter was taken under submission by the Appellate Court. On May 4, 2023, the Appellate Court issued its decision unanimously affirming the ruling of the lower Court in the Company’s favor.
On January 30, 2023, the Company filed a Notice of Motion for Summary Judgment and to Dismiss Affirmative Defenses against Tyche. That motion has been fully briefed, and the Court has scheduled a hearing thereon for June 20, 2023. The Company and the Individual Company Defendants intend to continue to vigorously defend against all of Tyche’s claims; however, there can be no assurance that they will be successful in the legal defense of such claims. Written discovery proceedings and depositions have occurred among the parties.
Action Against Ronald Bauer & Samantha Bauer
The Company and two of its wholly-owned subsidiaries, Katexco Pharmaceuticals Corp. and CannBioRex Pharmaceuticals Corp. (collectively, the “Company Plaintiffs”), initiated legal action against Ronald Bauer and Samantha Bauer, as well as two of their companies, Theseus Capital Ltd. and Astatine Capital Ltd. (collectively, the “Bauer Defendants”), in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on February 25, 2022. The Company Plaintiffs are seeking damages against the Bauer Defendants for misappropriated funds and stock shares, unauthorized stock sales, and improper travel expenses, in the combined sum of at least $4,395,000 CAD [$3,248,696 USD] plus the additional sum of $2,721,036 USD. The Bauer Defendants filed an answer to the Company Plaintiffs’ claims on May 6, 2022. There can be no assurance that the Company Plaintiffs will be successful in this legal action.
Declaratory Relief Action Against the Company by AmTrust International
On June 29, 2022, AmTrust International Underwriters DAC (“AmTrust”), which was the premerger directors’ and officers’ insurance policy underwriter for KBL, filed a declaratory relief action against the Company in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (the “Declaratory Relief Action”) seeking declaration of AmTrust’s obligations under the directors’ and officers’ insurance policy. In the Declaratory Relief Action, AmTrust is claiming that as a result of the merger the Company is no longer the insured under the subject insurance policy, notwithstanding the fact that the fees which the Company seeks to recover from AmTrust relate to matters occurring prior to the merger.
On September 20, 2022, the Company filed its Answer and Counterclaims against AmTrust for bad faith breach of AmTrust’s insurance coverage obligations to the Company under the subject directors’ and officers’ insurance policy, and seeking damages of at least $2 million in compensatory damages, together with applicable punitive damages. In addition, the Company brought a Third-Party Complaint against its excess insurance carrier, Freedom Specialty Insurance Company (“Freedom”) seeking declaratory relief that Freedom will also be required to honor its policy coverage as soon as the amount of AmTrust’s insurance coverage obligations to the Company have been exhausted. On October 25, 2022, AmTrust filed its Answer to the Company’s Counterclaims and, on October 27, 2022, Freedom filed its Answer to the Third-Party Complaint.
On November 22, 2022, the Company filed a Motion for Summary Adjudication against both AmTrust and Freedom. The Motion was fully briefed, and a hearing was held on March 9, 2023. The standard to prevail on a Motion for Summary Adjudication in the Court is high to prevail and requires a judge to find that there are no disputed issues of fact so that they can rule on the issues as a matter of law. In this instance the judge found three major issues could be decided as a matter of law in the Company’s favor and that one issue, the Change in Control exclusion, requires further discovery.
On April 21, 2023, the Court issued an Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part the Company’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Specifically, the Court granted summary adjudication in favor of the Company on the following issues: (a) that the Company is, in fact, an insured under both the AmTrust and Freedom insurance policies; (b) that certain SEC subpoena related expenses for defendants Dr. Marlene Krauss, the Company’s former Chief Executive Officer and Director, and George Hornig, the former Chairman of the Board, are within the basic scope of coverage under both the AmTrust and Freedom insurance policies; and (c) that the Insured vs. Insured exclusion relied upon by AmTrust and Freedom is not applicable to bar any such coverage.
The Court also found that there were issues of disputed facts as to the Change in Control exclusion contained within the policies, which therefore precluded the Court from granting the remainder of the Company’s requests for summary adjudication as a matter of law. Accordingly, the Court, at this time, denied the Company’s further requests for summary adjudication and deemed that for the time being, the Change in Control issue is to be determined at the time of trial, in order to find that the policies (i) provide coverage for the fees which the Company has advanced and will advance to Dr. Marlene Krauss and George Hornig; (ii) that AmTrust has breached the policy; (iii) that AmTrust must pay such expenses of the Company; and that, once the AmTrust policy has been exhausted, (iv) Freedom will be obligated to pay such expenses of the Company pursuant to its policy. The Company intends to continue to vigorously pursue this final matter in order to establish the Company’s entitlement to full payment by both AmTrust and Freedom of the subject advancement expenses of the Company.
While the Company continues to believe it has a strong case against both AmTrust and Freedom, and believes the Court ruling in its favor in regards to the matters discussed above is a significant positive outcome for the Company, there can be no assurance that the Company will prevail in this action.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/disclosureRef