Last month, when the Delaware Court of Chancery sustained the breach of the duty of oversight claim against the Boeing board, some observers suggested we could see an increase in board oversight breach lawsuits. We may yet see more breach of the duty of oversight claims, but another more recent Delaware Chancery Court decision in the Marriott data breach shareholder derivative suit suggests claimants still face an uphill battle in asserting these kinds of claims. On October 5, 2021, Delaware Vice Chancellor Lori Will granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss in the case, in part on grounds related to the plaintiff’s breach of the duty of oversight claims. As discussed below, the ruling could have particular significance with respect to the prospects for claims of breach of the duty of oversight relating to cybersecurity issues. A copy of Vice Chancellor Will’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Cybersecurity-Related Oversight Duty Breach Claim Against Marriott Board Dismissed

In the following guest post, Gregory A. Markel, Paul Ferrillo, Daphne Morduchowitz and Sarah A. Fedner take a look at and consider the implications of the Delaware Supreme Court’s September 23, 2021 decision in United Food and Commercial Workers Union v. Zuckerberg, et al, in which the Court articulated a new test for determining whether demand is excused as futile in shareholder derivative actions under Delaware law. Greg, Paul, and Daphne are partners and Sarah is an associate at Seyfarth Shaw LLP. 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: Director Liability in the Wake of the New Delaware Demand Futility Test

In an important decision that highlights the liability exposures facing corporate boards for claims alleging breaches of the duty of oversight, a Delaware Court of Chancery Vice Chancellor denied in substantial part the defendants’ motion to dismiss in the shareholder derivative suit pending against the board of Boeing relating to the 737 Max air crashes. The court concluded that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged that the company’s board had breached its oversight obligations by failing to establish safety oversight mechanisms prior to the October 2018 Lion Air crash and ignoring red flags about safety issues after the Lion Air crash and before the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash. Vice-Chancellor Morgan Zurn’s September 7, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Court Substantially Denies Boeing Duty of Oversight Claim Dismissal Motion

As I have noted in prior posts (most recently here),over the last several months plaintiff shareholders have filed numerous SPAC-related securities class action lawsuits. In an interesting variant of SPAC-related litigation, a claimant has filed a post-merger SPAC-related class action lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery against the former directors of a SPAC and against the SPAC’s sponsor, in which the claimant alleges the defendants breached their fiduciary duties to the pre-merger SPAC shareholders. The lawsuit has a number of interesting features, as discussed below. A copy of the plaintiffs’ August 4, 2021 complaint in the action can be found here.
Continue Reading SPAC-Related Class Action Breach of Fiduciary Duty Lawsuit Filed in Delaware Chancery Court

A recurring D&O insurance coverage issue is the availability under a D&O insurance policy of coverage for a Delaware appraisal action. As discussed here, in October 2020, the Delaware Supreme Court held in the Solera action that an appraisal action was not a “Securities Claim” within the meaning of the policy at issue and therefore was not a covered claim under the policy. As discussed below, a Delaware Superior Court judge has more recently held in an insurance coverage dispute that because an appraisal action is not “for” a “Wrongful Act,” there was no coverage under the policy at issue. A copy of the Delaware Superior Court’s July 30, 2021 decision in the case can be found here.
Continue Reading Appraisal Action is Not a Claim “for” a Wrongful Act

As readers of this blog know, from the very early days of the coronavirus outbreak COVID-19 related D&O lawsuits have been filed. Just as there have been new variants of the virus itself over the course of the pandemic, there have also been variants of the D&O lawsuits. The most recent variant of the COVID-19-related D&O lawsuit is the Delaware Chancery Court complaint filed earlier this month, in which the plaintiff in the derivative action alleges that corporate insiders profited by taking advantage of a drop in the company’s share price to grant themselves lucrative stock options. A copy of a redacted version of the shareholder plaintiff’s July 9, 2021 complaint can be found here. A copy of a July 21, 2021 Proskauer law firm blog post about the lawsuit can be found here.
Continue Reading A New COVID-19-Related D&O Lawsuit Variant

In a June 23, 2021 opinion (here), a Delaware Superior Court Judge held that a subsequent opt-out action is interrelated with the prior securities class action lawsuit; that the opt-out action claim is deemed made at the time of class action suit’s filing; and therefore that the D&O insurers whose policies were in force at the time the opt-out action was filed do not have coverage for the opt-out action. The court’s conclusion that an opt-out action is interrelated with the underlying class action lawsuit arguably is unremarkable, but, as discussed below, there are features of this dispute and of the court’s ruling that make the court’s decision noteworthy.
Continue Reading Opt-Out Action Held Interrelated with Underlying Securities Class Action Suit

Paul Ferrillo
Gregory A. Markel

Requests for the inspection of books and records pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law is an important part of corporate litigation in Delaware. One important issue for these types of proceedings is the scope of documents that these types of requests can reach, particularly when it comes to privileged documents and other pre-discovery material. In the following guest post, Paul Ferrillo and Gregory A. Markel take a look at recent Delaware case law addressing these important issues. Paul is a partner in the securities litigation group at the Seyfarth Shaw law firm and Greg is co-head of the securities litigation group at Seyfarth Shaw. Paul and Greg would like to acknowledge the substantial contribution of Seyfarth associate Sarah A. Fedner to the completion of this article. I would like to thank Paul and Greg for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors of topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Paul and Greg’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Section 220 Books and Records Demands: Can You Obtain Privileged Documents Too?

If things these days for the rest of you are the way they are for me, then all of you are basically finding out that SPACs are taking over your life. All SPACs, all the time. Wall to wall SPACs. At one level, this development should come as no surprise, as the sheer volume of SPAC activity is nothing short of astonishing. According to SPACInsider (here), since January 1, 2020, there have been a total of 554 SPAC IPOs completed – 308 in the three and a half months of 2021 alone. A further 261 SPAC IPO Registrations are currently pending. A staggering 435 post-IPO SPACs are currently in the process of trying to identify merger partners.  Along with this wave of financial activity has come an accompanying flow of SPAC-related news and information. I have identified below just a few of the many SPAC-related items that crossed my desk in the last week; the selected items underscore the opportunities and risks involved in the SPAC-crazy world that we all now inhabit. And as also noted below, there could be some hints of a slowdown as well.
Continue Reading All SPACs, All the Time

In a development that undoubtedly will be discussed among D&O insurance professionals for months to come, the Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion last week in the long-running Dole Foods insurance coverage battle. Many D&O insurance industry observers will not be surprised to learn that the Delaware Court’s opinion is favorable to policyholders. As discussed below, the opinion (and the many rulings in the court below in this dispute) may encourage insurers to consider possible policy wording revisions. A copy of the Delaware Supreme Court’s March 3, 2021 opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Sup. Ct. Rules for Insureds in Long-Running Dole Foods D&O Insurance Coverage Dispute