One of the great curses on our legal system is the merger objection litigation phenomenon, pursuant to which nearly every proposed public company merger inevitably attracts at least one shareholder lawsuit in which the claimant alleges that the proxy statement disclosures regarding the proposed merger were inadequate. These lawsuits almost uniformly are settled after the defendant company voluntarily agrees to make supplemental disclosures, for which the plaintiff seeks a “mootness fee” (for supposedly obtaining the supplemental disclosures, making their lawsuit moot). When they have the chance, courts have uniformly disdained these kinds of shakedown; one prominent jurist described this recurring procedural sequence as “no better than a racket.” Yet plaintiffs’ counsel continue to file these suits and to get away with extracting fees, because the settlements and payment of attorneys’ fees so often evade judicial scrutiny. Continue Reading Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Merger Objection Lawsuit “Mootness Fee” Petition

Regular readers of this site know that one of the continuing D&O litigation trends over the last several years has been the incidence of securities class action lawsuits and other litigation arising out of cybersecurity incidents at the defendant company. While in many instances these suits have not fared particularly well, plaintiffs’ lawyers have nevertheless continued to file the suits. In the latest suit filing of this type, on May 20, 2022, a plaintiff shareholder filed a securities suit against the cybersecurity firm Octa, Inc., relating to the decline in the company’s share price following revelations of a data breach at the firm. Although in many ways this latest suit is similar to previously filed cybersecurity-related securities suits, there are certain distinct aspect of the suit that make it noteworthy, as discussed below.  A copy of the May 20, 2022 complaint in the new lawsuit can be found here. Continue Reading Cybersecurity Firm Hit with Data Breach-Related Securities Suit

Frankfurt am Main

The D&O Diary was on travel in Europe this past week, with an extended sojourn in Germany. It was delightful to be back in Germany after the long pandemic-caused travel interlude. The pleasure of the journey was substantially enhanced by the absolutely terrific weather we enjoyed during our visit. Continue Reading A Long-Awaited Return to Germany      

Regular readers of this blog know that one of the important emerging D&O liability exposures involves issues arising from privacy concerns. There have, in fact, been a number of important privacy-related D&O claims filed, including lawsuits relating to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Among the highest profile of these GDPR-related lawsuits is the securities class action lawsuit filed against U.K. based media rating firm Nielsen Holdings. The Nielsen securities suit survived a dismissal motion. Now, in the latest development, the Nielsen suit recently settled for $73 million. The settlement is subject to court approval. A copy of the parties’ stipulation of settlement can be found here. Continue Reading Nielsen Holdings Settles GDPR-Related Securities Suit

Frank Hülsberg
Burkhard Fassbach

Regular readers know that I post frequently on this site on whistleblower-related topics. However, my discussion of whistleblower-related topics is generally focused on whistleblowing in the U.S. There have been significant recent whistleblower-related developments outside the U.S. For example, and as discussed in detail in the following guest post, a draft whistleblower protection act is now circulating in Germany. If adopted the new act could have significant implications, as discussed below. This guest post was written by Frank Hülsberg, who is a Chartered Accountant and Tax Advisor in Düsseldorf, Partner Advisory and Member of the Executive Board at Grant Thornton AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in Germany, and Burkhard Fassbach, a D&O-lawyer in private practice in Germany.  I would like to thank Frank and Burkhard for allowing me to publish their article on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Frank and Burkhard’s article. Continue Reading Guest Post: What Board Members Need to Know About the New German Whistleblower Protection Act

As I have noted in prior posts (most recently here), one of the most significant recent securities litigation trends has been the number of filings against post-SPAC-merger publicly traded companies. In the latest of these SPAC-related suit filings, last week a plaintiff shareholder filed a securities class action lawsuit against Arquit Quantum, a U.K.-based cybersecurity firm that merged with a SPAC in September 2021. Though this latest lawsuit is in many ways representative of the emerging SPAC-related securities litigation, it also has some distinct features as well, as discussed further below. A copy of the May 6, 2022 complaint in the case can be found here. Continue Reading U.K-Based Cybersecurity Firm Hit with SPAC-Related Securities Suit

In my most recent visit to London in October 2021, I was fortunate to be able to visit the Tate Britain museum. The museum has an interesting collection, but by far the most interesting feature of the museum is its very fine gallery of paintings by the English painter, J.M.W. Turner. The size and breadth of the museum’s Turner collection affords an opportunity to see how dramatically Turner’s artistic approach changed over the course of his long life. Turner began painting rather conventional landscapes, but ended producing unconventional paintings that appear entirely modern. In any event, as a result of spending a very enjoyable morning viewing his paintings, I became interested in learning more about Turner and his art. Continue Reading Sunday Arts: A Herald of the Modern

The global COVID-19 pandemic is now into its third year and it continues to affect the economy and the business environment. The following guest post takes a look at the pandemic’s continuing impact and reviews the possibility that the ongoing effects could increase the number of corporate insolvencies in the UK. This paper was written by Thomas Harris, a Senior Underwriter in the London D&O team of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance UK; Ben Barker, head of Executive & Professional Lines Claims, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance UK; James Wickes, a Partner in RPC’s FI/D&O team in London; and Paul Bagon, a Partner in RPC’s Restructuring & Insolvency team in London. A version of this article was recently published as BHSI /RPC client alerts via their LinkedIn homepages. 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: COVID-19 and the Impact on UK Corporate Insolvencies

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Cyan decision, corporate defendants faced the risk of wasteful and duplicative federal and state court securities litigation. In order to address this concern, corporate reformers suggested that companies should adopt provisions in their corporate charters designating an exclusive federal forum for securities litigation. The Delaware Supreme Court upheld the facial validity under Delaware law of federal forum provisions in the Sciabacucchi decision, but the question remained whether the courts in other jurisdictions would enforce the provisions. A number of courts in California and New York did subsequently uphold the provisions, but these were all trial court rulings.

 

Now, in an important legal development, a California intermediate appellate court has upheld the enforcement of the provisions, the first appellate decision on the issue outside Delaware. The California appellate court’s ruling in the Restoration Robotics case could represent a significant milestone in the development of post-Cyan litigation. A copy of the California appellate court’s April 28, 2022 decision can be found here. An April 29, 2022 memo from the Latham & Watkins law firm about the appellate court’s decision can be found here. Continue Reading California Appellate Court Upholds and Enforces Federal Forum Provision