On June 15, 2021, the SEC announced that that it had settled charges that a title insurance company’s cybersecurity disclosure controls and procedures violated the agency’s public company reporting requirements. The title insurance company, First American Financial Corp., which neither admitted or denied the charges, agreed to a cease-and-desist order and to pay a penalty. The charges do not represent the first time the SEC has pursued actions against a company for cybersecurity-related disclosures, but they do underscore the agency’s focus on cybersecurity disclosure-related issues, a topic that may be a source of increased focus ahead. Continue Reading Title Insurance Company Settles SEC Cybersecurity Disclosure-Related Charges

Shortly after Marriott International’s November 2018 announcement that it had uncovered a data breach in the guest registration system of Starwood (which Marriott had acquired two years earlier), the company was hit with a raft of litigation, including both securities class action lawsuits and shareholder derivative lawsuits. In twin June 11, 2021 opinions, the federal district judge presiding over the various Marriott data breach-related lawsuits granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss both the  consolidated securities suits and the consolidated derivative suits. The lengthy and detailed opinions make for interesting reading and underscore the challenge plaintiffs face in trying to turn a cybersecurity incident into a D&O claim. The opinion in the securities suit can be found here and the opinion in the derivative suit can be found here. Continue Reading Marriott Data Breach-Related Securities and Derivative Suits Both Dismissed

The business pages have been full in recent months with tales of cyber extortion and ransomware. In an effort to try to explain these developments, some commentators have suggested that the availability of ransomware coverage under cyber insurance is a cause of the problem. In the following guest post, Paul Ferrillo takes on the question of the role of cyber insurance availability in the proliferation of ransomware incidents. Paul is a partner in the securities litigation group at the Seyfarth Shaw law firm. I would like to thank Paul for allowing me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Paul’s article. Continue Reading Cybersecurity Insurance Did NOT Cause the Ransomware Plague

There have been several investment fads and mass enthusiasms this year that have been agitating the financial markets, but amidst the froth the fizziest speculative investments on the scene are non-fungible tokens (NFTs).  This new asset class uses blockchain technology to track tokens that are attached to verify the authenticity of everything from artwork to sports highlights. The boosters of these assets have mined the enthusiasm for collectibles to drive sky-rocketing asset values for NFTs. With this new type of asset attracting so much attention and activity, it arguably should come as no surprise that the backers promoting NFTs have attracted litigation as well. Continue Reading Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Craze Leads to Securities Class Action Suit

Volkswagen, several former executives –including Martin Winterkorn, the former Chair of the company’s Board of Management–  and the company’s D&O insurers have reached an agreement to settle damages claims the company asserted against the executives relating to the company’s “Dieselgate” scandal. In March 2021, following a years-long investigation of the scandal by an outside law firm, the company filed the claims, in which the executives were alleged to have breached their duties to the company. The settlement, worth in the aggregate approximately $351 million in U.S. dollar terms, includes substantial payments both by the individual executives and by the company’s D&O insurers. The D&O insurers’ contribution reflects a separate settlement between the company and its insurers with respect to insurance coverage issues. A copy of VW’s June 9, 2021 press release describing the settlement can be found here. Continue Reading Former Execs, Insurers Settle VW Dieselgate D&O Liability Claims

Since it was first instituted nearly 21 years ago, SEC Rule 10b5-1 has provided corporate executives with a way to trade in their company’s securities while avoiding potential liability under the federal securities laws. However, the Rule has been dogged by controversy and questions of potential abuse have been raised for years. Now, in remarks published earlier this week on the Wall Street Journal (here), SEC Chair Gary Gensler has said that the SEC is drafting a proposal to revise the Rule’s requirements to target some of the perceived abuses. The Cooley law firm’s PubCo blog has a detailed account of Gensler’s remarks in a June 8, 2021 post (here). Continue Reading SEC to Revise Rule 10b5-1 Trading Plan Requirements

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Insider Trading Prohibition Act, a bill intended to amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to address insider trading issues. In the following guest post, Partners Brooke Cucinella and Michael Osnato, Counsel Anar Rathod Patel, and Associate Rebecca Sussman, all of the Simpson Thacher law firm, analyze the bill and discuss its implications. A version of this article was previously published as a Simpson Thacher client memorandum. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article. Continue Reading Guest Post: Developments in Insider Trading Enforcement: The House Passes the Insider Trading Prohibition Act

A court in the Netherlands has ruled that a collective investor action against Petrobras and related entities pending in the court can go forward, notwithstanding the arbitration clause in Petrobras’s articles of association. The defendants had sought to argue that because of the arbitration clause the foundation that was pursuing the Dutch action on behalf of investors had no standing to pursue the claims. The Dutch court’s May 26, 2021 ruling rejecting the defendants’ argument will now permit the action to go forward. A copy of Petrobras’s May 27, 2021 press release about the court’s ruling can be found here. A June 3, 2021 Law360 article about the Dutch court’s ruling can be found here. Continue Reading Dutch Court Rules Petrobras Collective Investor Action May Proceed

The importance of ESG issues for companies and their executives is nothing new, but in recent days ESG issues seem to have taken center stage. The surprising success of activist investor Engine No. 1 in electing climate change-focused candidates to the board of ExxonMobil and the order by the Dutch court requiring Royal Dutch Shell to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50% of 2019 levels by 2030 are just two of the recent examples of the ways in which ESG issues increasingly have come to predominate corporate agendas. As discussed below, challenges related to ESG issues seem likely to continue. Among other things, these developments present new risks for potential D&O liability exposures as well. Continue Reading The Predominance of ESG-Related Issues and the Implications for Corporate Boards

Among the industries hit hardest at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak last year was the cruise ship business. As these companies were forced to cease operations, revenues plunged. Several of the companies were hit with securities class action lawsuits as well, though, as discussed below, these lawsuits have not fared well. On May 28, 2021, in the latest ruling in a COVID-19-related securities suit against a cruise ship line, the federal judge in the securities suit pending against Carnival Corp. granted the defendants motion to dismiss. The court’s ruling evinces a great deal of skepticism of the plaintiffs’ case. Continue Reading Another COVID-19-Securities Suit Against Cruise Line Dismissed