The directors’ and officers’ liability environment is always changing, but 2022 was a particularly eventful year, with important consequences for the D&O insurance marketplace. The past year’s many developments also have significant implications for what may lie ahead in 2023 – and possibly for years to come.  I have set out below the Top Ten D&O Stories of 2022, with a focus on future implications. Please note that on Thursday, January 12, 2023 at 11:00 AM EST, my colleagues Marissa Streckfus, Chris Bertola, and I will be conducting a free, hour-long webinar in which we will discuss The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2022. Registration for the webinar can be found here. I hope you will please join us for the webinar.Continue Reading The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2022

One of the fundamental principles of corporate law – in the U.S., as well as in other countries – is that a corporate entity has a legal existence separate and apart from its shareholders, officers, and directors, and that the individuals cannot be held personally liable for the debts and obligations of the company. However, in a recent extraordinary and noteworthy decision, the Irish High Court, applying Irish law, pierced the corporate veil in finding two Irish directors and two shadow directors personally liable in connection with a multinational fraud scheme. As discussed below, the decision underscores the importance of directors’ duties and their obligations to be informed about their companies’ operations. A copy of the Court’s October 28, 2022 decision can be found here.
Continue Reading Irish Court Lifts Corporate Veil to Hold Directors Liable

As readers of this blog know, there have been important case law developments in Delaware concerning boards’ duty of oversight. In the following guest post, the authors review the key recent developments and consider the practical implications for boards. The authors of this paper are: Sebastian M. Alia, Deputy General Counsel, Hudson Insurance Group; H. Stephen Grace, Ph.D., President, H.S. Grace & Company, Inc.: Alvin H. Fenichel, CPA, Senior Advisor, H.S. Grace & Company, Inc.; and Joseph P. Monteleone, Esq., Partner, Weber Gallagher. A version of this article previously was published in the ACC Docket. I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their articles 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: How To Structure a Board to Oversee Mission-Critical Activities

A claim alleging a board’s breach of duty of oversight has long been regarded as one of the most difficult for a plaintiff to sustain. But after the Delaware Supreme Court’s 2019 opinion in Marchand v. Barnhill, breach of the duty of oversight claims (or Caremark claims, as they are sometimes called) have in recent years, as Vice Chancellor Sam Glasscock put in in his recent opinion in the SolarWinds case, “bloomed like dandelions after a warm spring rain.” Some commentators questioned whether oversight breach claims were in fact as difficult to sustain as is so often said. However, in his recent opinion, the Vice Chancellor emphasized the oversight breach claims remain “one of the most difficult claims” to sustain and granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the cybersecurity-related oversight breach claims asserted against the board of Solar Winds.  A copy of Vice Chancellor Glasscock’s September 6, 2022 opinion in the SolarWinds case can be found here.
Continue Reading Del. Court Dismisses Cybersecurity-Related Oversight Claim Against SolarWinds Board

In a series of opinions beginning with the Delaware Supreme Court’s 2019 decision in Marchand v. Barnhill, Delaware courts have sustained a number of so-called “Caremark” claims based on the defendant board members’ breach of their duty of oversight. The courts have denied motions to dismiss in cases where the boards failed to act despite “red flags” alerting them to problems. But what happens if the “red flag” that alerts the board to a problem is a litigation demand letter submitted by a prospective claimant seeking to have the board take up litigation because of problems identified in the letter? In an interesting and troubling May 24, 2022 decision, Vice Chancellor Travis Laster sustained a claim based on these kinds of allegations, accepting what he called a “novel theory” with “admitted trepidation.” Though Laster sought in his opinion to contain some the more “disquieting” implications of this ruling, there is now at least a theoretical basis on which future prospective claimants could argue that a board’s rejection of a litigation demand letter could itself give rise to a separate breach of fiduciary duty claim.
Continue Reading Del. Court Sustains Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim for Board’s Rejection of Demand Letter

In what is one of the largest ever shareholder derivative settlements, the parties to the Cardinal Health opioid-related shareholder derivative litigation have agreed to settle the suit for $124 million. The Cardinal Health settlement, which is subject to court approval, is the latest massive settlement of opioid-related derivative litigation. It also represents another example of a massive settlement of a breach of the duty of oversight claim. The settlement is to be funded entirely by Cardinal Health’s D&O insurers. A copy of the plaintiffs’ May 25, 2022 unopposed motion for preliminary approval of the settlement can be found here.
Continue Reading Cardinal Health Opioid-Related Derivative Suit Settled for $124 Million

The directors’ and officers’ liability environment is always changing, but 2021 was a particularly eventful year, with important consequences for the D&O insurance marketplace. The past year’s many developments also have significant implications for what may lie ahead in 2022 – and possibly for years to come.  I have set out below the Top Ten D&O Stories of 2021, with a focus on the future implications. Please note that on Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 11:00 AM EST, my colleague Marissa Streckfus and I will be conducting a free, hour-long webinar in which we will discuss The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2021. Registration for the webinar can be found here. I hope you will please join us for the webinar.
Continue Reading The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2021

The filing of data breach and other cybersecurity incident-related shareholder derivative lawsuits against corporate boards is nothing new; plaintiffs’ lawyers have been filing these kinds of claims now for several years. However, in recent months, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have shown an increasing inclination to file these claims based on allegations of breach of the duty of oversight. The latest example of this type of claim is the shareholder derivative suit filed this week against the board of T-Mobile USA. Although the plaintiff’s complaint does not expressly use the words “breach of the duty of oversight” or refer to “Caremark duties,” the complaint does refer to the board’s alleged “failure to monitor” and to the board’s alleged failure “to heed red flags” – the very kind of allegations that are at the heart of breach of the duty of oversight claims. A copy of the plaintiff’s complaint in the November 29, 2021 lawsuit can be found here.
Continue Reading Data Breach-Related Derivative Suit Filed Against T-Mobile USA Board

In the latest example of claimants seeking to assert the newly revitalized type of claim for breach of the duty of oversight against corporate boards, plaintiff shareholders have filed a derivative lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court against certain past and current directors of technology company SolarWinds, based on the massive cybersecurity incident involving the company’s software and systems discovered in December 2020. As discussed below, there are several interesting features of this lawsuit in light of recent developments involving claims for alleged breaches of the duty of oversight. A copy of the heavily redacted publicly available version of the plaintiffs’ complaint against the SolarWinds board can be found here.
Continue Reading Cybersecurity-Related Breach of the Duty of Oversight Claim Filed Against SolarWinds Board

In what is one of the largest derivative lawsuit settlements ever, and — according to the statement from one of the co-lead plaintiffs in the case — the largest settlement ever in Delaware of a Caremark/breach of the duty of oversight case, the parties to the Boeing 737 Max Crash shareholder derivative suit in Delaware Chancery Court have agreed to settle the case for a payment of $237.5 million, all of which is to be funded by D&O insurance. As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to adopt several safety and oversight protocols and other corporate governance measures. The settlement is subject to court approval. A copy of the November 5, 2021 statement of the co-lead plaintiff, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, about the settlement can be found here. A copy of the parties’ settlement stipulation can be found here.
Continue Reading Boeing Air Crash Derivative Lawsuit Settles for $237.5 Million