Shareholders Derivative Litigation

The shareholder derivative lawsuit filed against the directors of Danaher Corporation is the latest board diversity lawsuit to fail to survive initial pleading hurdles. In a June 28, 2021 order (here), District of Columbia District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the shareholders’ claims, based on his determination that the plaintiffs had failed to establish that pre-suit demand on the board would have been futile. In making his rulings on the motion, Judge McFadden made several interesting and noteworthy observations about the plaintiffs’ board diversity allegations.
Continue Reading Board Diversity Lawsuit Against Danaher Directors Dismissed

Regular readers will recall that last year and earlier this year, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed a series of shareholder derivative lawsuits against the directors of several companies alleging that the lack of diversity on the companies’ boards breached the directors’ fiduciary duties. In the latest ruling to address preliminary motions in these various cases, the court in the board diversity lawsuit filed against directors and officers of Oracle has granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss. As discussed in greater detail below, the plaintiffs’ track record on the board diversity lawsuits is not good so far; the ruling in the Oracle suit represents the third successive dismissal granted in these suits.
Continue Reading Dismissal Motion Granted in Oracle Board Diversity Lawsuit

In the second dismissal motion ruling in one of the many board diversity lawsuits filed in recent months, a magistrate judge has granted the defendants’ dismissal motion in the suit against the board of clothing retailer The Gap. This latest ruling follows the dismissal motion grant last month in the similar lawsuit against Facebook’s board. As discussed below, the court’s dismissal of the case against The Gap’s board was based on the forum selection clause in the company’s bylaws. Northern District of California Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim’s April 27, 2021 ruling in the case can be found here.
Continue Reading Board Diversity Lawsuit Against The Gap Dismissed Based on Forum Clause

In a derivative lawsuit settlement with one of the highest nominal dollar values ever – and in what is one of the largest #MeToo-related D&O lawsuit settlement ever – Google parent Alphabet has agreed to establish a $310 million diversity, equity, and inclusion fund as part of the settlement of the consolidated derivative litigation relating to the company’s alleged mishandling of sexual harassment allegations against senior executives and the company’s alleged overall culture of sexual discrimination and harassment. The company also agreed to adopt extensive reforms to its employment policies and to implement a number of governance reform measures as part of the settlement. The settlement is subject to court approval.
Continue Reading Alphabet Establishes $310 Million Fund in Google Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Settlement

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