Shareholders Derivative Litigation

In the latest in a series of lawsuits that recently have been filed against corporate directors based on board diversity issues, a Qualcomm shareholder has filed a derivative lawsuit against the company’s board, alleging that the company’s directors violated their duties to the company and shareholders by falling short of stated objectives on diversity and inclusion and by falling to include a single African-American either on the board or among the company’s senior officers. The lawsuit against Qualcomm follows similar lawsuit filed earlier this month against Oracle and Facebook. A copy of the July 17, 2020 complaint against the Qualcomm board can be found here.
Continue Reading Qualcomm Hit with Board Racial Diversity Derivative Lawsuit

In a recent post (here), I discussed the shareholder derivative suit filed against the board of directors of Oracle Corporation based on the alleged lack of racial diversity on the company’s board. Turns out that in addition to the lawsuit against Oracle’s board, the law firms that filed the Oracle lawsuit also have  filed a shareholder derivative lawsuit against Facebook’s board alleging that the directors had violated their fiduciary duties by their inaction on diversity and inclusion issues; their tolerance of racially discriminatory practices both in its workforce and on its platform; and their failure to take action on hate speech on its platform. Along with the Oracle lawsuit, the new lawsuit against Facebook provides another example of how the current heightened focus on diversity and inclusion issues can translate into D&O claims. A copy of the complaint in the Facebook action can be found here.
Continue Reading Facebook Board Hit with Derivative Lawsuit on Board Diversity and Other Race-Related Issues

After the recent civil disturbances and social unrest, there has been a renewed focus on equality and diversity issues. Among many other things, investors and activists are raising concerns about the lack of racial diversity on corporate boards. For example, just last week, a California legislator introduced a bill that would require corporations to include on their boards persons from “underrepresented communities.” Now, in addition to these legislative efforts, an activist investor seeking to advance board diversity objectives has launched a shareholder derivative lawsuit against the directors of Oracle Corporation, accusing the board of violating their legal duties by failing to diversify the company’s board and otherwise failing to address diversity and equality issues. A copy of the investor’s complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Oracle Directors Hit with Derivative Suit on Board Diversity Issues

With coronavirus-related developments consuming all of the attention these days, it might be easy to forget other unrelated claims trends are continuing to develop and unfold. One important pre-pandemic trend that has continued to develop is the rise of D&O claims arising out of cybersecurity incidents. In the latest sign that this claims trend remains important, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a derivative lawsuit against certain directors and officers of Laboratory Corporation of America, in connection with two cybersecurity incidents involving the company. As detailed below, the first of these two incidents involved a data breach that took place at one of LabCorp’s third-party service providers. A copy of the complaint, filed in Delaware Chancery Court on April 28, 2020, can be found here.
Continue Reading LabCorp Board Hit with Derivative Suit Over Third-Party Service Provider’s Data Breach

In a very interesting development and one that will definitely be worth watching, a plaintiff shareholder has launched a shareholder derivative lawsuit in New York state court on behalf of Bayer AG against members of its supervisory board, certain managers, and other defendants, seeking damages from the defendants for alleged violations of their duties under the German Stock Corporations Act. The lawsuit basically alleges that the defendants violated their duties to the company for pursuing and completing Bayer’s disastrous acquisition of Monsanto. The lawsuit raises the question of whether shareholders of a company organized under the laws of and based in Germany can pursue German law claims in New York courts using New York court procedures.  As discussed below, the plaintiff’s attempt to pursue her claims in New York rather than Germany could face significant threshold hurdles. However, if her claims are permitted to go forward, this case could have very significant implications for the potential exposures of other non-U.S. companies to litigation in the U.S.  A copy of the plaintiff’s March 6, 2020 complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Derivative Suit Against Bayer Board Alleging German Law Violations Filed in NY Court

In business meetings during my recent European visit, one topic that came up is the widespread liability risks arising out of the opioid crisis. One particular question I was asked was whether, in addition to everything else, the opioid crisis presented D&O risks. I was quick to refer to the various U.S. securities class action claims that have arisen (about which refer here) and to assure my hosts that there were indeed many other opioid-related D&O claims as well. Among the other opioid-related D&O claims is the shareholder derivative action that was filed against the board of McKesson Corp. As it turns out, the McKesson derivative suit recently settled, for an agreement to pay $175 million. As discussed below, this settlement, which is subject to court approval, and which is one of the largest derivative settlements ever, is to be funded entirely by D&O insurance.
Continue Reading McKesson Opioid-Related Derivative Suit Settles for $175 Million

WeWork may not have been able to complete its once-planned IPO, but even so it now has something that many IPO companies often experience – a shareholder class action lawsuit. On November 4, 2019, a WeWork investor filed a lawsuit in California state court on behalf the company’s minority shareholders as well as on behalf of the company itself. As discussed below, the shareholder complaint makes a number of interesting allegations and raises some interesting issues as well.
Continue Reading WeWork, SoftBank, Neumann Hit with Shareholder Lawsuit

It is not uncommon for corporate boards facing shareholder derivative litigation to appoint a special litigation committee to investigate the allegations that the plaintiff shareholder raised in the suit. However, in an unusual development in the shareholder derivative lawsuit pending in Delaware against directors and officers of Oracle, the company’s board’s special litigation committee (SLC) has advised the court that the committee of three independent directors believes it is in the company’s best interest to allow the lead plaintiff (rather than the committee itself) to proceed with the claims on behalf of Oracle. Alison Frankel’s August 19, 2019 post on her On the Case blog discussing the Oracle derivative lawsuit and the SLC’s letter to the court can be found here.
Continue Reading Oracle Board Special Litigation Committee Recommends Shareholder’s Derivative Claims Proceed

A short time ago, a storm of controversy briefly emerged after a Delaware court endorsed a firm’s adoption of a fee-shifting bylaw. The controversy quieted down after the Delaware legislature adopted a statutory provision prohibiting fee-shifting bylaws. The fee-shifting provision controversy could be back, albeit this time in a different state. A Nevada legislator has introduced a bill in the state senate that would explicitly allow Nevada corporations to adopt  provisions requiring fee-shifting in unsuccessful M&A litigation, as long as the deals were approved by a shareholder majority. University of Nevada Las Vegas Law School Professor Benjamin Edwards describes the legislation in a March 18, 2019 post on the Business Law Prof Blog (here).
Continue Reading Proposed Nevada Legislation Introduces Fee-Shifting in Shareholder Litigation

In one of the largest shareholder derivative lawsuit settlements ever, the parties to the consolidated Wells Fargo derivative suit arising out of the bank’s phony customer account scandal have agreed to settle the case for a variety of cash and non-cash benefits with a stated value to the company of $320 million, inclusive of a cash payment of $240 million. The $240 million cash portion of the settlement is to be paid by the bank’s D&O insurers, in what is, according to the plaintiffs’ counsel, “the largest insurer-funded cash component of any shareholder derivative settlement in history.” This settlement represents the latest in a series of derivative suit settlements with a significant cash component, a case resolution pattern in high-profile derivative suits that arguably represents the new normal in the world of D&O liability exposures.
Continue Reading Massive Settlement in Wells Fargo Bogus Account Scandal Derivative Suit