derivative settlements

The liability environment for directors and officers is always in a state of change, but 2019 was a particularly eventful year in the D&O liability arena, with important consequences for the D&O insurance marketplace. The past year’s many developments have significant implications for what may lie ahead in 2020 – and possibly for years to come, as well.  I have set out below the Top Ten D&O Stories of 2019, with a focus on the future implications.
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In one of the largest shareholder derivative lawsuit settlements ever, the parties to the consolidated Wells Fargo derivative suit arising out of the bank’s phony customer account scandal have agreed to settle the case for a variety of cash and non-cash benefits with a stated value to the company of $320 million, inclusive of a cash payment of $240 million. The $240 million cash portion of the settlement is to be paid by the bank’s D&O insurers, in what is, according to the plaintiffs’ counsel, “the largest insurer-funded cash component of any shareholder derivative settlement in history.” This settlement represents the latest in a series of derivative suit settlements with a significant cash component, a case resolution pattern in high-profile derivative suits that arguably represents the new normal in the world of D&O liability exposures.
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freeportThe parties to the Freeport-McMorRan Copper & Gold, Inc. Derivative Litigation have finalized an agreement to settle the consolidated litigation pending in the Delaware Chancery Court in exchange for a payment of $137.5 million and for the company’s agreement to adopt certain corporate governance reforms. The settlement represents the third largest derivative lawsuit settlement ever.

latestgavelMy post earlier this week about the $275 million Activision Blizzard shareholder derivative lawsuit settlement – and in particular my suggestion that the Activision settlement may be the largest derivative suit settlement ever – provoked an interesting flurry of emails and conversations about the lineup of other large derivative lawsuit settlements. To address the various

One of the more interesting recent developments in the world of corporate and securities litigation was the $139 million settlement of the News Corp. shareholders derivative suit. Not only is this settlement apparently the largest ever cash settlement of a shareholders derivative suit, but the entire amount of the settlement is to be funded by

In the wake of Pfizer’s record-setting September 2009 $2.3 billion settlement of charges that it had engaged in off-label marketing of Bextra and other drugs, Pfizer investors filed shareholders derivative lawsuits against the company, as nominal defendant, and 19 of the company’s directors and officer, alleging that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties by failing to