In a series of rulings culminating in the January 2016 decision in Trulia (about which refer here), Delaware’s courts have evinced their hostility to the kind of disclosure-only settlement in which merger objection suits are frequently resolved. Since that time, plaintiffs’ lawyers increasingly have filed merger-objection lawsuits outside of Delaware, either in federal court or courts in other states. The question since then has been whether other jurisdictions’ courts would follow Delaware’s courts’ lead in rejecting disclosure-only settlements. Many courts have followed Delaware, but others have followed a different path. In particular, New York, in an intermediate appellate court decision in Gordon v. Verizon (about which refer here), set a lower standard than Delaware’s courts for accepting disclosure-only settlements.
However, the apparently more lenient New York standard did not stop New York Supreme Court Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich from rejecting a proposed disclosure-only settlement of a lawsuit challenging Martin Marietta’s 2014 acquisition of Texas Industries. In a scathing February 8, 2018 opinion (here), Judge Kornreich rejected the proposed settlement as “utterly useless to shareholders.” Her opinion shows that even under New York’s seemingly more lax standard, disclosure only settlements could face significant scrutiny and could be rejected where the additional disclosures do not provide benefits to shareholders. Continue Reading