Director and officer liability

Francis Kean

As long time readers know, I have long been warning that climate change-related issues could have a significant impact on directors and officers liability exposures. In the following guest post, Francis Kean provides a summary outline of the specific litigation exposures that corporate directors and officers may face as a result of emerging climate change-related concerns. Francis is Executive Director FINEX Willis Towers Watson. Francis will be joining McGill and Partners in early spring 2020. I would like to thank Francis for allowing me to publish his 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 Francis’s article.
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John Reed Stark

The news of the recent massive data breach at Capital One made the front pages of the business sections of newspapers across the country. The hack has drawn attention not just because of the magnitude of the hack, but also because the hackers apparently managed to steal data from The Cloud. The Capital Data breach represents a “wake-up call” for boards of directors, according to the following guest post from John Reed Stark. John is President of John Reed Stark Consulting and former Chief of the SEC’s Office of Internet Enforcement. A version of this article originally appeared on Securities Docket. My thanks to John for allowing me to publish his 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 John’s article.
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In the following guest post, Deepshikha Dutt, Douglas B.B. Stewart,of and Frank E.P. Bowman of the Dentons law firm review and analyze a recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice relating to the liabilities of directors and officers under Ontario statutory law for misrepresentations in offering statements. This article is republished here with permission from Dentons. I would like to thank Deepshikha, Douglas, and Frank for allowing me to publish their article here. 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 an article. Here is Deepshikha,  Douglas, and Frank’s article.
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As I have noted in recent posts, the #MeToo movement has led to a number of D&O lawsuits as the accountability process has led not only to claims against the wrongdoers but also against the wrongdoers’ company and other company executives for turning a blind eye or failing to disclose the problems. On August 30, 2018, in the latest of these D&O claims arising out of revelations of sexual misconduct, investors filed a securities class action lawsuit against Papa John’s International, following news reports of sexual harassment at the company involving the company’s founder and former CEO and Chairman, John H. Schantter, as well as other executives at the company.
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Commentators (including me) have long speculated about the possible future direction of data breach-related litigation. There have of course been a number of very high profile data breach-related consumer class action suits, but so far relatively few data breach related D&O lawsuits. Of course, more recently investors filed a securities class action lawsuit involving the high-profile data breach at Equifax. Now investors have filed another data breach securities class action lawsuit, in this case involving PayPal Holdings.
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James R. Lane

As I have noted in prior posts, securities class action litigation represents a significant part of the corporate liability landscape in Canada. In the following guest post, James R. Lane, a founding partner of the Toronto law firm of Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP, takes a look at a recent important decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal addressing director and officer liability issues under the Ontario Securities Act. A version of this article previously was published as an alert to the law firm’s clients. I would like to thank Jim for his willingness to allow me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. 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 Jim’s guest post.
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Those of us immersed in the world of directors and officers could not imagine becoming involved in any sort of business organization without the protection and benefit of D&O insurance. Just the same, I have fairly regular conversations with officials and executives at closely held companies who see no need for the insurance, on their belief that without outside investors, their company faces no risk of incurring a D&O claim. However, long experience tells me that D&O insurance should be a part of every organization’s insurance program, regardless of its ownership.
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qualcommThere is no private right of action under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. However, a company’s announcement of an FCPA investigation or enforcement action frequently will draw a follow-on civil lawsuit in the form of a shareholders’ derivative lawsuit, in which a shareholder plaintiff alleges that the company’s board failed to prevent the company from committing these violations. But while these kinds of lawsuits arise frequently, they are less frequently successful, as illustrated most recently in a Delaware Chancery Court shareholders’ derivative lawsuit involving the telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm.
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fdicAs we approach what will be the eighth anniversary of the peak of the global financial crisis, many of the effects of the crisis have subsided. But while the crisis and many of the worst of its effects have largely faded into the past, a number of litigated matters related to the crisis have continued to grind through the courts. Among other things, the wave of failed bank lawsuits – that is, lawsuits filed by the FDIC against the former directors and officers of banks that failed in the wake of the crisis – has continued to roll along. However, at this point, it looks as if the failed bank litigation has just about played out. Now that the litigation is winding down, it may be time take a retrospective look at the failed bank litigation wave.
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dojIn a September 9, 2015 memo from Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, the U.S. Department of Justice described a new policy focused on individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing. The keystone of the policy embodied in the Yates memo is that for companies to receive any cooperation credit, they must completely disclosure “all relevant facts about individual misconduct.”  According to an interesting May 26, 2016 memo from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform entitled “DOJ’s New Threshold for Cooperation” (here), the agency’s new threshold for cooperation credit is “likely to have a number of unintended consequences.” Among other things, the report notes, the new policy risks alienating personnel whose cooperation is essential to the investigation, and indeed may motivate individuals to seek individual counsel. These and other potential unintended consequences may mean that the agency’s new policy may have a counterproductive impact on corporate cooperation.
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