Director and Officer Liability

One of the more noteworthy recent developments in corporate and securities litigation has been the resurgence of Delaware law “duty of oversight” claims, as I noted in my recent annual round-up of D&O liability issues. Delaware courts have sustained several of these kinds of “Caremark duty” claims, which until recently were distinctly disfavored – which raises the questions of why these claims are now proving viable, and whether the renewed risk of duty of oversight claims is here to stay? In a December 2020 paper entitled “A New Caremark Era: Causes and Consequences” (here), Professor Roy Shapira of IDC Herzliya Radzyner Law School identifies what he believes to be the causes of the recent revival of duty of oversights, and presents his view that the changes are here to stay. Professor Shapira’s views are summarized in a January 18, 2021 post (here) on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance.
Continue Reading A “New Era” of Caremark Claims?

The directors’ and officers’ liability environment is always changing, but 2020 was a particularly eventful year, with important consequences for the D&O insurance marketplace. The past year’s many developments also have significant implications for what may lie ahead in 2021 – and possibly for years to come.  I have set out below the Top Ten D&O Stories of 2020, with a focus on the future implications. Please note that on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST, my colleague Marissa Streckfus and I will be conducting a free, hour-long webinar in which we will discuss The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2020. Registration for the webinar can be found here. I hope you will please join us for the webinar.
Continue Reading The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2020

The board of directors and several executives of Pinterest have been hit with a shareholder derivative lawsuit brought by an institutional investor alleging that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties by causing or permitting the company to engage in a pattern of race and gender discrimination and retaliation, harming the company’s reputation and workforce. As discussed below, the Pinterest lawsuit is the latest in a series of lawsuits alleging that companies’ boards have violated their duties to their companies or the companies’ shareholders with respect to their oversight of diversity, equity and inclusion issues.
Continue Reading Pinterest Board Hit with Derivative Suit Based on Race and Gender Discrimination Allegations

2020 has been called “the year of the SPAC.” (2020 has been called a lot of other things as well, but for purposes of this blog post, I am going to focus on the SPAC-related issues.) The reason for the fanfare about Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) is that there has been a wave of SPAC offerings this year, raising tens of billions of dollars of capital. While the rush to conduct SPAC offerings has at times started to feel like a stampede, there are in fact questions being raised about at least some SPAC transactions. As discussed below, there has been a series of recent lawsuits involving SPACs, and regulators have made it clear that they are concerned about some features of some SPAC transactions. These recent developments suggest that some trouble could be brewing in SPAC-Land.
Continue Reading Rain on the SPAC Parade?

California-based high technology firm Cisco Systems is the latest company to be hit with a racial diversity lawsuit, based on allegations that its directors breached their fiduciary duties to the company by failing to include an African-American on the company’s board, despite the company’s numerous statements about its commitment to diversity. Though this latest lawsuit is in many respects similar to the previously filed board diversity lawsuits, it does differ in that it was not filed by the plaintiffs’ firm that has filed most of these lawsuits and also because the lawsuit follows a pre-suit demand on Cisco’s board, by contrast to most of the prior suits where the plaintiffs had made no demand and instead argued demand futility. A copy of the complaint in the Cisco Systems action can be found here.
Continue Reading Cisco Systems Hit With Board Diversity Lawsuit

As readers know, directors and officers of both public and private companies face a number of sources of potential liability exposure that can in turn learn to claims against them. One area of potential D&O claims exposure that may not always be considered is the possibility that the individuals could face claims brought against them by their own company, as happened, for example, in the lawsuit that McDonald’s recently filed against its former CEO. The latest example of a case where a company has sued one of its former senior officials is the lawsuit filed earlier last week by General Motors against one of its former directors, based on allegations that the director leaked confidential information to a rival company and to the UAW, which, the company alleges, added billions to the company’s labor costs. The lawsuit, which is interesting in and of itself, also raises a number of interesting issues, as discussed below. A copy of GM’s complaint in the lawsuit can be found here.
Continue Reading GM Files Lawsuit Against One of Its Own Former Directors

Karen Boto
Mark Sutton

In the following guest post, Karen Boto and Mark Sutton of the Clyde & Co law firm take a look at the recent stories circulating in the press about the latest data leak concerning the FinCEN files and discuss the implications of these developments. I would like to thank Karen and Mark 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 Karen and Mark’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The FinCEN Files – No Hiding from Suspicious Activities

One of the focal points in the scrutiny that has followed in the wake of the current social justice movement has been the question of diversity at America’s companies, including the lack of diversity on corporate boards. Among other things, a number of boards of public companies lacking Black directors have been sued in a series of shareholders derivative lawsuits alleging that the board members violated their fiduciary duties by failing to live up to state diversity objectives, as discussed most recently. Now, in the latest example of this type of litigation, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a derivative lawsuit against the board of Monster Beverage Corporation, alleging that the directors breached their fiduciary duties and deceived investors by claiming to have diversity and inclusion programs while have no Black directors on the board. A copy of the complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Monster Beverage Hit With Latest Board Diversity Lawsuit

In yesterday’s post, I noted that earlier this week, a plaintiff shareholder had filed a board diversity lawsuit against the Gap. Turns out, that the same day yet another company was also hit with a board diversity shareholder derivative lawsuit, this time involving the board of directors and Chief Executive Officer of the medical and industrial product company Danaher Corporation. The Danaher lawsuit is in many ways substantially similar to the prior lawsuits that have been filed against companies that have no African-Americans on their boards of directors; however, the Danaher lawsuit is the first filed against a company outside California (Danaher is based in the District of Columbia), and it was filed by a different law firm than the one that had filed all of the prior board diversity suits. The complaint in the Danaher action can be found here.
Continue Reading Yet Another Board Diversity Derivative Lawsuit, This Time Against Danaher’s Board