As I have previously noted on this blog, merger objection litigation imposes significant costs on the defendant companies and their insurers. In the following guest post, Patrick Gallagher of the integrated communications and investor relations firm Dix & Eaton takes a look at recent developments in the merger objection litigation arena. I would like to thank the author for allowing me to publish the article as a guest post on this site. It was originally published on the Dix & Eaton Blog. 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. Pat’s guest post follows below.
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It is big news when one of the most successful plaintiff-side corporate and securities lawyers decides to walk away from the game, but that is exactly what Stuart Grant of Grant & Eisenhofer, the Delaware shareholder litigation firm, is going to do. According to Alison Frankel’s interesting June 25, 2018 Reuters article and interview (here), Grant is leaving his firm effective June 30, 2018, because, in his own words, he doesn’t like losing, as he has been doing in the past few years. Both Grant’s reasons for leaving and his plans for what comes next are interesting. In his interview with Frankel, Grant also had a number of interesting things to say about a number of corporate and securities litigation topics.
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In prior posts (for example here), I noted that a series of Delaware court decisions culminating in the Court of Chancery’s January 2016 opinion in the Trulia case signaled the state’s courts’ hostility to disclosure-only settlements in merger objection lawsuit, which in turn has encouraged merger objectors to file their lawsuits in other jurisdictions. The Trulia line of cases is in fact only one of several recent judicial developments in Delaware that constrain shareholder claimants. So is stockholder litigation in trouble in Delaware? In a March 22, 2018 post on the Delaware Business Litigation Report (here), Edward McNally of the Morris James law firm take a look at this question, discussing where things stand while Delaware’s courts look to find the proper balance.
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delawareAs documented on this site (for example, here and here) and elsewhere, deal litigation has been shifting from Delaware Chancery Court to courts in other states and to federal courts. This shift is largely the result of two Delaware court decisions, the Delaware Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Corwin v. KKR Financial Holdings LLC  (here) and the Delaware Chancery Court’s January 2016 court decision in the In re Trulia Shareholder litigation (here). Though these court decisions are relatively recent, they are already having measurable impact on the amount of litigation in Delaware. Indeed, as detailed in a May 19, 2017 Law 360 article entitled “Delaware Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Fear Exodus of Chancery Deal Suits” (here, subscription required), the effect from these two cases has been sufficiently substantial that plaintiffs’ lawyers active in Delaware are now concerned that the future of deal litigation in Delaware is under threat.
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janusWhat is the role of defense counsel in deal litigation? What impact does the involvement of “top” deal litigation firms have on lawsuit outcomes? And what will the impact on deal litigation be from the advent of forum selection by-laws and the recent court crackdown on disclosure-only settlements? These are the questions addressed in an interesting May 2, 2016 paper entitled “Divided Loyalties? The Role of Defense Litigation Counsel in Shareholder M&A Litigation” (here), by C.N.V. Krishnan of Case Western Reserve University; Steven Davidoff Solomon of University of California Berkeley Law School; and Randall Thomas of Vanderbilt Law School. A summary of their paper appears in a May 23, 2016 post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (here).
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del1In my recent survey of the top stories in 2015 in the world of D&O, I noted that one of last year’s most important developments was the signal that several of the judges on the Delaware Court of Chancery sent in a series of rulings that they would not longer routinely approve the kind of “disclosure-only settlement” that frequently resolves merger objection lawsuits. According to Liz Hoffman’s  January 11, 2016 Wall Street Journal article focused on Delaware Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster and entitled “The Judge Who Shoots Down Merger Lawsuits” (here), after Laster’s October 2015 decision rejecting the proposed settlement in the H-P/Aruba Networks merger objection lawsuit, there were dramatically fewer merger objection lawsuits filed in Delaware, and in fact some previously filed lawsuits are being withdrawn.
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courtofchancery
Delaware Court of Chancery

The fact that these days virtually every public company M&A transaction draws at least one merger objection lawsuit has provoked concern from many quarters. As I noted in a prior post, it recently became clear that among those concerned are the judges on the Delaware Court of Chancery. Based on developments last week, including in particular Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock III’s September 17, 2015 opinion in the Riverbed Technology merger objection lawsuit (here), the days when merger objection suits in Delaware’s courts may be resolved through a disclosure-only settlement in which plaintiffs’ counsel gets their fees paid and the defendants get an “intergalactic” claim release may be over. As Alison Frankel put it in a September 18, 2015 post on her On the Case blog (here), last week’s Delaware Chancery Court developments may represent “a turning point in M&A shareholder litigation in Delaware Chancery Court.”
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doleA frequent theme these days in the world of corporate and securities litigation is the complaint about merger objection litigation – how virtually every deal announced attracts at least one lawsuit, and how all too often the cases are resolved on the basis of a disclosure-only settlement and the payment of the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees, an arrangement that produce no benefit for anyone except the lawyers. However, a recent Delaware Chancery court post-trial opinion provides a sharp reminder that some merger transactions can include some real problems.
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delsealIn a late night session on June 11, 2015, the Delaware House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed S.B. 75, which prohibits Delaware stock corporations from adopting “loser pays” fee-shifting bylaws and which confirms that Delaware corporations may adopt bylaws designating Delaware courts as the exclusive forum for shareholder litigation. The bill, which previously passed the state’s