There have recently been a number of Delaware court decisions relating to the Duty of Oversight. In the following guest post, Frederick M Zauderer, Esq., Senior Vice President, Head of Complex Claims – North American Liability at AXIS Capital Holdings, Ltd., Joseph P. Monteleone, Esq., Partner at Weber Gallagher, and Alvin H. Fenichel, CPA, Senior Advisor at H.S. Grace & Company, Inc., take a look at the recent Delaware Duty of Oversight decisions and consider their implications. A version of this article previously was published on the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Docket site (here). I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article 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: Board Oversight Duties: Recent Adventures in the Delaware Chancery
In a January 22, 2016 Delaware Court of Chancery decision that likely will prove to be significant because of the light it sheds on the future of disclosure-only settlements in merger objection lawsuits in Delaware, Chancellor Andre Bouchard rejected the proposed settlement in the litigation arising out of Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia, saying that because the “none of the supplemental disclosures were material or even helpful to Trulia’s stockholder,” the proposed settlement “does not afford them meaningful consideration to warrant providing a claim release.”
In reaching these conclusions, Bouchard reviewed the dynamics that have led to the “proliferation of disclosure settlements” and the problems these kinds of settlements present. Bouchard also offered his perspective on the ways that remedial disclosure assertions in deal litigation could optimally be litigated. At a minimum, Bouchard’s opinion represents a warning to the plaintiffs’ bar that to the extent they continue to pursue disclosure settlements, they can “expect that the Court will be increasingly vigilant in scrutinizing the ‘give’ and the ‘get’ of such settlements to ensure that they are genuinely fair and reasonable to the absent class members.” Chancellor Bouchard’s January 22, 2016 opinion in the Trulia case can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Chancellor Rejects Disclosure-Only Settlement, Signals What’s Next for Merger Objection Suits
As I have noted in recent posts, several members of the Delaware Court of Chancery have made it clear that they are increasingly skeptical of disclosure-only settlements in merger objection lawsuits. It now appears that the Chancery Court rulings are starting to have an impact at the supply end of the food chain; according to a recent analysis by The Chancery Daily, the number of new merger objection lawsuit filings in the Delaware Chancery Court has begun to drop in response the Chancery Court’s rulings. The publication reported what it observed to be during October and November 2015 a “pronounced decline in the number of class action complaints filed compared to prior months in the year 2015.” The Chancery Daily’s November 13, 2015 blog post discussing its analysis can be found here. Alison Frankel’s November 16, 2015 post on her On the Case blog discussing the recent filing trends can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Merger Objection Lawsuit Filings Decline in Response to Chancery Court’s Rejection of Disclosure-Only Settlements
Stating his belief that the merger objection litigation dynamic represents a “systemic” problem that has resulted in a “misshapen legal system,” Delaware Chancery Court Vice Chancellor Travis Laster rejected the proposed disclosure-only settlement of litigation that had been filed objecting to Hewlett-Packard’s $2.7 billion acquisition of Aruba Networks. In an October 9, 2015 settlement hearing in the case, Laster cited the “inadequacy of the representation” of plaintiffs’ counsel for the shareholder class as the basis for his rejection of the settlement, as well as for the outright dismissal of the case. Liz Hoffman’s October 10, 2015 Wall Street Journal article about Laster’s ruling can be found here.
Continue Reading Game Over?: Del. Chancery Court Rejects Disclosure-Only Settlement in H-P/Aruba Networks Merger Objection Lawsuit
One of the great curses of the corporate litigation environment in recent years has been the proliferation of merger objection suits, the incidence of which has gotten to the point that now just about every large merger deal draws at least one lawsuit, and sometimes several. However, if recent developments in the Delaware Chancery Court are any indication, the courts are as appalled by this seemingly undifferentiated mass of litigation as are the parties to the transactions. Two recent decisions may suggest that the Delaware courts, at least, are no longer willing simply to accept the standard “disclosure only” settlements that typically resolve these kinds of cases, which in turn may mean that the cases could become less attractive to the plaintiffs’ lawyers that bring these cases.
Continue Reading The Beginning of the End of the Merger Objection Lawsuit Curse?
A question that frequently recurs is whether or not directors of insolvent companies have fiduciary duties to creditors. Creditors often attempt to argue that as companies move into the “zone of insolvency,” directors’ duties move from the company’s shareholders to the company’s creditors. While courts have discredited this theory, creditors nevertheless seek to raise this …
Following the Delaware Chancery Court’s June 2013 ruling upholding the facial validity of the bylaw of Chevron Corporation designating Delaware as the exclusive forum for intra-corporate disputes, the adoption of forum selection bylaws has become mainstream. But while a number of companies have now adopted forum selection bylaws, the circumstances surrounding the adoption by…
As I noted in a recent post (here), in response to a recent Delaware Supreme Court decision upholding the facial validity of fee-shifting bylaws, proposed legislation was introduced in the Delaware General Assembly to limit the Supreme Court’s ruling and to restrict the ability of Delaware corporations to utilize their bylaws to shift …
Earlier this year, when Chancellor Leo Strine issued an opinion in the Chevron case upholding the validity under Delaware law of a forum selection clause in the company’s corporate by-laws, a number of questions remained unanswered, including in particular what would happen if, notwithstanding the forum selection provision, a shareholder nevertheless filed an action in…
One of the more vexing litigation problems to emerge recently has been the proliferation of multi-jurisdiction litigation, where corporate defendants are forced to litigate essentially the same claim in multiple courts at the same time. This problem is a particular issue in the context of M&A litigation, although not contained to those kinds of lawsuits.