Archives: Director and Officer Liability

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A Trio of Delaware Decisions Reaffirms Corporate Director Protections

Because the vast majority of U.S. publicly traded companies are incorporated in Delaware, legal developments in Delaware have a particularly important impact on legal standards governing corporate conduct in the U.S. Delaware law is particularly influential with respect to the responsibilities and potential liability exposures of corporate directors. In a series of recent opinions written … Continue Reading

The “Myth” of Outside Director Liability and the Critical Importance of D&O Insurance

In the world of corporate governance, there are a number of common presumptions about board structure and practices. However, according to a recent paper, many of these presumptions may in fact represent corporate governance “myths.” In their September 30, 2015 paper entitled “Seven Myths of Boards of Directors” (here) Stanford Business School Professor David Larcker … Continue Reading

SEC Enforcement Actions Against Outside Directors

From time to time, the SEC reiterates its view of the critical gatekeeper role companies’ outside directors play in safeguarding investors’ interests. Nevertheless, it has been relatively rare for SEC to pursue enforcement actions against outside directors based on an alleged failure to fulfill that role. But while these actions are rare, the agency does … Continue Reading

A Guide to Directors’ Duties and Liabilities in Europe

One of the vestiges of the global financial crisis is that company directors and officers now face more scrutiny than ever. This scrutiny, in turn, has led to a greater liability exposure for corporate officials, as well.  This increased scrutiny and amplified liability exposure applies not only in the U.S., but in other countries, including, … Continue Reading

Thinking About Directors’ Duties and Directors’ Liabilities

When the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced a renewed emphasis on the prosecution of individual directors and officers in instances of corporate misconduct, it raised the possibility that in the future we could see increased numbers of corporate officials prosecuted and convicted for actions they took as representatives of their company. There are times … Continue Reading

Thinking About the Justice Department’s New Policy Directive Targeting Corporate Executives

The U.S. Department of Justice released a directive last week restating and reinforcing the agency’s commitment to targeting corporate executives in cases of corporate wrongdoing. The cornerstone of the agency’s new policies is the specification that in order for a company to qualify for any cooperation credit in connection with a DoJ investigation, the company … Continue Reading

While You Were Out

September is here. Labor Day has come and gone. That can mean only one thing – time to put away the surf boards, bungee cords, fencing foils, pogo sticks, nunchuks, hula hoops, light sabers, and unicycles, and get back to work. Yes, it is time to answer all those emails and return all of those … Continue Reading

A Closer Look at the Massive $148 Million Damages Award Against Dole’ s CEO and General Counsel

A frequent theme these days in the world of corporate and securities litigation is the complaint about merger objection litigation – how virtually every deal announced attracts at least one lawsuit, and how all too often the cases are resolved on the basis of a disclosure-only settlement and the payment of the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees, … Continue Reading

The Short-Termism Debate: Are There D&O Liability Issues Involved, Too?

In recent months, commentators from across the political spectrum, largely in response to perceived excesses of activist investors, have called for changes to discourage “short-termism” – that is, the perceived excessive focus of businesses on short-term results rather long-term value creation. Voices ranging all the way from Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (about which refer … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Trims Independent Directors’ Potential Liabilities in M&A Transactions

On May 14, 2015, in a landmark ruling with important implications for the potential liabilities of independent directors of companies involved in M&A transactions, the Delaware Supreme Court held that in order to state a claim for damages against directors of a company that has an exculpatory provision in its corporate charter, a plaintiff must … Continue Reading

Challenging Consequences: The Government’s Requirement for Wrongdoing Admissions in Civil Fraud Suits

In one of the more troublesome recent developments for corporate officials who find themselves targeted by government investigations, both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office have made it clear that as part of the settlement of civil fraud actions, the governmental authorities intend to seek both … Continue Reading

The Curse of Multi-Jurisdiction Litigation: A Problem for Everyone, Not Just Defendants

One of the more distinct litigation phenomena in recent years has been the rise of multi-jurisdiction litigation, particularly in connection with merger objection litigation. Corporate advocates and defense attorneys have decried this development, as it has forced companies facing litigation to have to fight a multi-front war and to incur increased defense expense. At its … Continue Reading

Bank Directors Facing Increased Regulatory Scrutiny, Raising Fears of Potential New Liability Exposures

Federal banking regulators have stepped up their interactions with and scrutiny of bank directors, according a recent Wall Street Journal article. The March 31, 2015 article, entitled “Regulators Intensify Scrutiny of Bank Boards” (here) details the ways in which regulators are “zeroing in on Wall Street boardrooms as part of the government’s intensified scrutiny of … Continue Reading

An Alarming Liability Award Against Not-for-Profit Organization’s Directors and Officers

A question that frequently recurs when I am speaking to directors and officers of non-profit organizations is why – given that their firms have no shareholders – they need to bother with D&O insurance. The reality is that even though officials at non-profit firms don’t have to worry about the possibility of shareholder claims, non-profit … Continue Reading

The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2014

The year just ended was an eventful one in the world of directors’ and officers’ liability. Many of the year’s key events represented significant changes in the D&O liability environment. Many of the changes during 2014 have important implications for 2015 – and possibly for years to come. The list of the Top Ten D&O … Continue Reading

Guest Post: New Debate in January on Delaware Bylaws re Shareholder Liability

In numerous posts (most recently here), I have noted the ongoing controversy in Delaware on this issue whether or not companies organized under the laws of that state should be able to adopt so-called fee-shifting bylaws. In the following guest post, Tanya Dmitronow, Rachel Wolkinson, and Stacey Eilbaum, all of whom are litigation lawyers at … Continue Reading

Insolvent Company Directors’ Duties to Creditors Under Delaware Law

A question that frequently recurs is whether or not directors of insolvent companies have fiduciary duties to creditors. Creditors often attempt to argue that as companies move into the “zone of insolvency,” directors’ duties move from the company’s shareholders to the company’s creditors. While courts have discredited this theory, creditors nevertheless seek to raise this … Continue Reading

Battle Builds in Delaware Over Fee-Shifting Bylaws

Earlier this year, after the Delaware Supreme Court upheld the facial validity of fee-shifting bylaws in the case of ATP Tour, Inc. v. Deutscher Tennis Bund (as discussed here), a legislative initiative quickly emerged to restrict the case’s holding to Delaware non-stock companies. However, the initiative proved to be controversial, and the legislative proposal was … Continue Reading

Personal Liability for Corporate Officials Under U.S. Import Laws

Import laws and custom duties are not areas of the law into which I frequently (or lightly) venture, but I delve into these topics here and now because developments in these areas have served up yet another example where individual corporate officers have been held liable personally for matters that previously had been regarded exclusively … Continue Reading

Book Review: The Global Directors and Officers Deskbook

The increasing globalization of business and commerce presents significant opportunities and major complications. The complications run across a wide variety of issues. Among other things, the complications arising from an increasingly global economy include concerns relating to the liabilities of companies’ directors and officers across jurisdictions. These concerns can vary widely depending on the countries … Continue Reading

Guest Post: Can Shareholders Bring “Direct” Mismanagement Claims Against Directors of Maryland Corporations?

In this guest post, Joseph Collins, a partner at the DLA Piper law firm, examines the extent to which mismanagement claims can be brought directly against directors of a Maryland corporation, as opposed to derivatively. I would like to thank Joe for his willingness to publish his article on my site. I welcome guest post submissions … Continue Reading