One idea circulating since the U.S. Supreme Court held in Cyan that state court Section 11 actions are not removable to federal court is that companies could avoid state court actions by adopting a federal forum bylaw or charter provision. Indeed, a number of companies recently have adopted these provisions prior to going public. Late last year, a shareholder of several IPO companies filed an action in Delaware Chancery Court seeking a judicial declaration that the companies’ Federal Forum Provisions are invalid. On December 19, 2018, Vice Chancellor Travis Laster issued a memorandum opinion agreeing with the plaintiff and holding that under Delaware law, Federal Forum Provisions are invalid and ineffective. A copy of Laster’s opinion can be found here.
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One of the basic requirements in order for coverage to be triggered under a directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policy is that the misconduct alleged must have been undertaken by insured individuals in an “insured capacity” – that is, in their capacities as directors or officers of the insured entity. In a recent insurance coverage ruling, the Delaware Superior Court held that because the allegations against the insured individuals “arose out of” their involvement with entities other than the insured entity, there was no coverage for the individuals under their bankrupt company’s D&O insurance policy. The ruling underscores the importance of capacity issues in determining D&O insurance coverage and highlights the ways in which allegations of misconduct undertaken in multiple capacities can lead to complicated coverage questions. The Delaware Superior Court’s November 30, 2018 decision can be found here.
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One idea that resurfaces from time to time is the suggestion that companies ought to adopt bylaw or charter provisions mandating the arbitration of shareholder claims, including claims under the federal securities laws. The current SEC Chair, Jay Clayton, has said that he does not consider the issue to be a top priority, seemingly shelving the idea for the time being. But various contending parties have continued to agitate on the issue.

In a recent white paper issued by a consumer advocacy group and signed by a number of prominent securities law professors, the professors state their view that Delaware law does not permit federal securities law claims to be resolved in arbitration or in any specific forum. The white paper is sure to stir the pot. As discussed below, it could also have an impact on a case currently pending in Delaware state court that could dictate whether or not Delaware companies may designate a federal court forum for the resolution of claims under the federal securities laws.
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Marc Casarino
Doug Greene

In the following guest post, Marc Casarino, a partner in the White & Williams law firm, and Doug Greene, the National Practice Leader of BakerHostetler’s Securities and Governance Litigation Team, take a look at the special litigation committee process and examine the ways in which the SLC process can be “robust, successful and efficient.” I would like to thank Marc and Doug for their willingness to allow me to publish their article as a guest post on my 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 Marc and Doug’s article.
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Paul Lockwood
Arthur Bookout

Among the most crucial issues in the world of directors and officers liability are the related questions of indemnification and advancement. Since so many companies are incorporated in Delaware, the laws of indemnification and advancement in Delaware are particularly important with respect to scope of protection available for directors and officers. In the following guest post, Paul Lockwood and Art Bookout of the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm take a look at these issues, with a particular focus on limitations under Delaware law on indemnification and advancement rights. A version of this paper previously was published as an AIG White Paper. I would like to thank the authors and AIG for allowing me to publish this article as a guest post. 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 Paul and Art’s article.
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As discussed in a guest post on this site last week (here), on December 14, 2018 the Delaware Supreme Court published its opinion in Dell, Inc. v. Magnetar Global Event Driven Master Fund Ltd. (here). In the following guest post, Mark Lebovitch, Christopher J. Orrico and Alla Zayenchik of the Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman LLP law firm provide their contrasting perspective on Dell and other recent Delaware decisions and of these decisions’ implications for investors and acquirers. I would like to thank the authors for their willingness to allow me to publish their article. 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’ guest post.
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In the following guest post, Delaware partners Edward Micheletti, Paul Lockwood and associate Chad Davis of the Skadden Arps law firm take a look at the Delaware Supreme Court’s December 14, 2017 opinion in Dell, Inc. v. Magnetar Global Event Driven Master Fund Ltd. (here), which examined important appraisal action valuation issues. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article. 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 the authors’ guest post.
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Much has been written about the explosive growth in merger objection litigation in recent years. A less common but increasingly frequent type of merger-related litigation is appraisal rights litigation. In these types of lawsuits an investor exercises his or her statutory right for a judicial determination of the value of his or her stock. These kinds of cases present their own sets of issues and challenges.

Among the recurring issues is the question of whether or not the costs a company incurs in an appraisal proceeding are covered under a D&O insurance policy; traditionally, D&O carriers have argued that appraisal proceedings are not covered under their policies because the request for an appraisal proceeding does not involve an alleged “Wrongful Act.” However, an August 2, 2017 memo by Peter Gillon and Benjamin Tievsky of the Pillsbury law firm  (here) argues that in many cases this coverage analysis is inaccurate and that in fact there should be coverage under the D&O policy for the expenses incurred in an appraisal proceeding.
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delawarePublic company D&O insurance policies typically provide coverage for the corporate entity only for “Securities Claims.” A recent case in the Delaware Superior Court involved the question of whether a bankruptcy trustee’s claim related to Verizon’s multi-billion dollar spinoff of its electronic directories business was a “Securities Claim.” In an interesting and detailed opinion dated March 2, 2017 and released March 15, 2017 (here), Judge William C. Carpenter, Jr. ruled that the bankruptcy trustee’s claim was a “Securities Claim” within the meaning of the Verizon’s D&O insurance policy and therefore that Verizon’s insurers were liable of the costs incurred in defending against the trustee’s claim. The opinion makes for interesting reading for anyone interested in how these kinds of disputes can arise, and also has some important practical lessons.  
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gavel1In response to concerns that virtually every merger transaction was attracting at least one lawsuit, Delaware’s legislature and judiciary acted to try to cut down on the merger objection litigation in the state’s courts. In 2015, Delaware’s legislature adopted a provision expressly allowing corporations organized under the state’s law to adopt bylaw provisions designating Delaware’s courts as the exclusive forum for shareholder disputes. Delaware’s courts, in a series of decisions culminating in Chancellor Bouchard’s January 2016 decision in Trulia, made it clear that in most cases the courts will no longer support the kind of disclosure-only settlements by which these cases frequently were resolved.

But what has the impact of these changes been? That is the subject of a February 23, 2017 paper entitled “The Shifting Tides of Merger Litigation” (here) written by Matthew Cain of the SEC; U. Penn. Law Professor Jill Fisch; U.Cal. Berkeley Law Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon; and Vanderbilt Law Professor Randall Thomas. The authors conclude that there has been “a tidal wave of change in the merger objection litigation industry.”
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