Director and Officer Liability

SPAC transactions have been a massive phenomenon in the U.S. for the last 18 months, and now it appears that the financial trend may be catching on overseas as well. In the following guest post, Jane Childs, Luke Mooney, Aiden M. McCormack and Martin Penn of the DLA Piper law firm take at look at the possibilities for the SPAC trends to spread to the U.K. A version of this article previously was published as a DLA Piper client memo. 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: Are SPACs Crossing the Pond? Implications for D&O Insurers

Anyone reading the business pages know that SPAC IPO activity continues to surge; indeed, we have not yet even officially completed 2021’s first quarter, yet the number of SPAC IPOs completed and the amount of funding raised have both already exceeded the totals for the full year 2020. As I have already noted in prior posts on this site, all of this SPAC activity has already attracted some legal action. At the end of the last week, there were further signs that the legal activity could be about to pick up. As discussed below, news reports circulated late last week that the SEC has sent informal inquiries to Wall Street banks concerning SPACs, and, as also discussed below, a plaintiff shareholder has initiated a class action lawsuit against the directors and officers of a SPAC, among others, in Delaware Chancery Court presenting some alternative liability theories.
Continue Reading Is SPAC-Related Legal Action About to Heat Up?

As I have documented on this site, over the last few months plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed a series of lawsuits against the directors of companies that allegedly lack African American representatives on their corporate boards. Many of these lawsuits, particularly at the outset of this litigation filing trend, were filed by the same law firm. Among the first of these lawsuits was a shareholder derivative lawsuit filed in July 2020 against the board of the social media company, Facebook. In an order dated March 19, 2021 (here), Northern District of California Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. The dismissal was without prejudice with respect to the plaintiff’s proxy misrepresentation claims under Section 14(a). As discussed below, the court’s ruling could have important implications for the other pending (and prospective future) board diversity lawsuits.
Continue Reading Facebook Board Diversity Lawsuit Dismissal Motion Granted

Regular readers will recall that last summer and fall there was a series of lawsuits filed against the directors of several publicly traded companies that had no African Americans on their boards. For a time, it seemed as if this litigation outbreak had subsided, as no further lawsuits were filed after the end of September. However, the impression that this phenomenon had played itself out was dispelled in February, when a plaintiff shareholder filed yet another board diversity lawsuit against the directors of Micron Technology. Now, in the latest sign that the board diversity litigation movement may have even further to run, on March 5, 2020, a plaintiff shareholder filed yet another board diversity lawsuit, this time against Florida-based healthcare company, OPKO Health, Inc. The lawsuit against OPKO Health’s board can be found here.
Continue Reading OPKO Health Hit with Board Diversity Lawsuit

In the following guest post, Tristan Hall, Andrew Milne, and Emma Boulding of the CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP law firm take a look at the new UK Pension Schemes Act, and in particular review the Act’s liability provisions and D&O insurance implications. 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 publish a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: New Pensions Risks for UK Directors

One issue I have been monitoring on this site recently is the apparent revival of claims against corporate directors and officers for breach of the duty of oversight. Up until now, my focus has been on developments in Delaware’s courts. However, a recent Ohio federal district court decision in an opioid-related derivative suit against the board of the pharmaceutical distribution firm Cardinal Health examined issues addressed sufficiency of breach the duty of oversight allegations under Ohio law.

In an interesting February 8, 2021 decision (here) highlighting the fact these issues are relevant under other states’ laws, Southern District of Ohio Judge Sarah D. Morrison denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s breach of the duty of oversight claims against the Cardinal Health board, although she granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim for waste of corporate assets.
Continue Reading Court Sustains Opioid-Related Duty of Oversight Breach Claims Against Cardinal Health Board

Last summer and early fall there was a rash of shareholder derivative lawsuits – mostly filed in California, mostly filed against tech companies – based on allegations that the target companies’ boards had breached their duties by failing to include African American board members. The filings of these kinds of lawsuits trickled off after the California legislature adopted a bill requiring companies based in California to meet specified board diversity requirements. However, if a recent lawsuit filied is any indication, the board diversity lawsuit filing trend may not have entirely played out after all.

On February 9, 2021, a plaintiff shareholder launched a new board diversity lawsuit, this time against the board of Micron Technology. As discussed below, this most recent lawsuit is different than the earlier lawsuits in certain key ways. A copy of the complaint against the Micron Technology board can be found here.
Continue Reading Micron Technology Hit with Board Diversity Law Suit

As I have noted in prior posts, there has been a recent renewed focus among observers of Delaware corporate case law development on breach of the duty of oversight claims (sometimes called Caremark claims in reference to the initial Court of Chancery decision elaborating on the duty of oversight). Indeed, at least one academic commentator has suggested, based on a series of Delaware court rulings during 2019-2020, that we have entered a “new era” of Caremark claims.

But though there have been a number of high profile cases in which breach of the duty of oversight claims have been sustained, a recent Delaware Court of Chancery decision underscores the fact that the pleading hurdles for these types of claims are still substantial, and, indeed, as discussed below, at least one set of commentators has suggested that this most recent decision raises the question whether the pleading bar for these types of claims has changed at all. The Delaware Court of Chancery’s December 31, 2020 decision in Richardson v. Clark can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Chancery Court: Caremark Claims Against MoneyGram Board Not Sustained

In a recently recorded PLUS podcast, Willis Tower Watson’s Rob Yellen and I examine the potential impact of the new Presidential administration on the world of corporate directors’ and officers’ liability. Rob and I are joined in the podcast by John Fielding, who is Chubb’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Global Government and Industry