In a recent post, I noted that while companies may face investor and regulator pressure to address ESG-related issues, ESG-related actions can also entail operational and financial risks — and litigation risks, as well. In the latest example of a company whose ESG-motivated actions went awry, leading to securities litigation, Wells Fargo has been sued in a securities class action lawsuit after media reports that its efforts to diversify its work force led to fake job interviews, allegedly contrary to the company’s disclosures concerning its diversity efforts. A copy of the June 28, 2022 complaint against Wells Fargo can be found here. Continue Reading Another Example of ESG-Related Actions Leading to a Securities Lawsuit
According to a new report about SPACs and SPAC-related securities litigation, even though the market for SPAC IPOs may have cooled in recent months, SPAC-related litigation has “yet to heat up.” Indeed, according to the report, litigation involving the 977 SPACs that completed IPOs during the period January 2019 and April 2022 “may continue to grow over the next few years.” The report, which is entitled “SPAC Federal Securities Litigation Analysis” and was written by David P. Abel, Managing Attorney, U.S. Market Advisors Law Group PLLC, can be found here. Continue Reading Further SPAC-Related Securities Litigation Filings Likely in the Months Ahead?
In an article published last month, the Wall Street Journal chronicled the difficulties that many of the SPACs launched during the SPAC IPO frenzy in late 2020 and early 2021 are having trying to identify a suitable merger target. Many of the SPACs, the article suggested, might be forced to liquidate; still others, the article suggested, could “pursue low-quality companies” as the SPAC sponsors seek to “stave off possible losses.” I had occasion to recall the Journal article as I read the allegations in a newly filed SPAC-related shareholder derivative suit. The new lawsuit illustrates the one of the types of litigation risk some SPACs could face as they mull last minute mergers before the approaching end of their 24-month search period. Continue Reading Derivative Suit Alleges SPAC Merged with Company Outside the Targeted Industry
In the now more than two-and-a-quarter years since the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., a significant number of COVID-related securities class action lawsuits have been filed. What is surprising is not that the suits have been filed; rather, it is that even at this late date, the COVID-related suits continue to be filed. As time has gone by, however, it has become increasingly challenging to say with clarity whether a particular lawsuit is or is not “COVID-related.” The securities class action lawsuit filed late last week against online information platform, Yext, illustrates the increasing difficulty of making the COVID-related categorization, as discussed below. Continue Reading The Growing Challenge of Identifying COVID-Related Securities Suits
ESG is a hot topic. There is a general perception in certain circles – including the D&O insurance community — that ESG awareness and activism are essential attributes of good corporate citizenship. There is even a perception in certain parts of the D&O insurance community that strong ESG credentials makes individual companies better D&O risks. However, as the securities class action lawsuit recently filed against U.K consumer products company Unilever shows, activism on ESG issues can, in fact, lead to D&O claims. The complaint in the Unilever action, which makes for interesting reading and arguably has important implications, can be found here. Continue Reading Can ESG-Motivated Company Actions Lead to Corporate and Securities Litigation?
There was an art house movie in the early 80’s called “Diva.” The film became something of a cult classic. The complicated plot almost defies short summarization, but at the movie’s center is a unique plot device that is pure genius. Continue Reading Sunday Arts: Diva
Regular readers of this blog know that class action securities fraud lawsuits almost never go to trial. But “almost never” is not the same as “never.” Every now and then, there is an unusual case that does go to trial. This past week, a federal court jury reached a verdict in one of those rare and unusual cases. On June 14, 2022, a federal jury in the Southern District of New York held after trial that Michael Reger, co-founder of Dakota Plains Holdings, Inc. was liable for securities fraud and control person fraud, but not for insider trading. Reger was the sole remaining defendant in the case after the other defendants last month reached a settlement. A copy of the jury’s June 14, 2022 verdict form can be found here. Continue Reading Rare Jury Verdict in Securities Fraud Lawsuit
Businesses currently face a host of challenging operating circumstances: supply chain issues; labor shortages; economic inflation; the war in Ukraine; and the continuing disruptive effects of the pandemic. As a new securities class action lawsuit filed this week against the consumer product company Tupperware shows, these kinds of operating conditions not only create business and financial risk for many companies, but these conditions can also translate into litigation risk, as well. A copy of the securities lawsuit complaint filed recently against Tupperware can be found here. Continue Reading Business and Litigation Risk in a Challenging Operating and Economic Environment
As I detailed in blog posts at the time, the parties to two separate shareholder derivative lawsuits in recent months announced what were among the largest derivative suit settlements – the massive $300 settlement in the Renren derivative lawsuit and the $180 million settlement in the FirstEnergy derivative lawsuit. Though the settlements in each of these two cases were announced to great fanfare, both settlements, for separate reasons, ran into procedural roadblocks. There have now been further developments in each of these cases – the Renren settlement appears to be back on track, while the federal district judge presiding over one of the unconsolidated FirstEnergy derivative suits continues to throw up roadblocks, as discussed below. Continue Reading Further Developments in Two Recent Jumbo Derivative Lawsuit Settlements
I was struck by the recent statements of Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg quoted an insurance industry publication that a colleague circulated to me last week. In the article, Greenberg said that when it comes to ESG commitments, many companies – particularly insurance companies – may be over-promising. What made Greenberg’s remarks particularly interesting to me was his suggestion that companies’ commitment to net-zero goals and other lofty-sounding climate aspirations could lead to shareholder lawsuits. It is worth thinking about this litigation possibility in the context of current regulatory action focused on so-called “greenwashing” in the investment fund industry. In both cases, the concern is that companies may tried to take on an ESG aura that the actual facts may not support. Continue Reading Will Companies’ ESG Goals Lead to Shareholder Litigation?