Corporate Defense and Disputes

Important developments in U.S. securities law, white collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement and other emerging issues impacting financial services institutions, publicly traded companies and private investment funds

Category Archives: Corporate Governance

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Second Circuit Holds That Tipper/Tippee Liability Can Arise from a Gift of Inside Information Even Without a Close Personal Relationship

The Second Circuit ruled today that a “meaningfully close personal relationship” is not required for insider-trading liability where a tipper discloses inside information as a gift or in exchange for some other type of nonpecuniary personal benefit.  The requisite personal benefit exists “whenever the information was disclosed ‘with the expectation that [the recipient] would trade … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancellor Urges Revision of Preclusion Principles in Derivative Actions

The Chancellor of Delaware’s Court of Chancery yesterday urged the Delaware Supreme Court to revise Delaware law on preclusion in shareholder derivative actions.  The court’s July 25, 2017 decision in In re Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Delaware Derivative Litigation recommended that the Supreme Court adopt a rule that a judgment in one derivative action cannot bind the … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Requires Increased Scrutiny of Securities Class Actions Involving Off-Exchange Transactions

The Second Circuit held today that putative securities class actions involving transactions in non-U.S.-listed securities require careful scrutiny to determine whether the class members’ claims can be litigated on a classwide basis. The court’s ruling in In re Petrobras Securities (No. 16-1914) will likely increase the difficulty of certifying securities class actions arising from transactions in … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds That Securities-Law Statutes of Repose Are Not Subject to Class-Action Tolling

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the pendency of a securities class action does not allow individual class members to opt out of the class and file separate actions under the Securities Act of 1933 more than three years after the relevant securities offering took place. The Court’s decision in California Public Employees’ … Continue Reading

Non-Use Agreement Need Not Precede Disclosure of Confidential Information

A Pennsylvania federal court held yesterday that an agreement not to use confidential inside information for trading purposes need not precede the receipt of that information in order to create liability under the misappropriation theory of insider trading. The ruling in SEC v. Cooperman (E.D. Pa.) appears to be the first decision to address the “novel … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Reaffirms Personal-Benefit Requirement for Insider Trading

The Supreme Court confirmed today that the “personal benefit” required to establish a claim for insider trading can consist of making a gift of material, nonpublic information to a family member or friend and that an exchange of “something of a pecuniary or similarly valuable nature” is not required. The decision in Salman v. United … Continue Reading

U.S. Court of Appeals to Consider Class-Certification Ruling in Petrobras Securities Litigation

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has allowed the defendants in the Petrobras securities litigation to pursue an immediate appeal from the District Court’s order certifying classes of investors who had purchased unlisted Petrobras securities in off-exchange transactions.  The appeal in In re Petrobras Securities Litigation could help resolve questions about whether … Continue Reading

Wine, Steak, and Massage Parlors Are Personal Benefits for Insider Trading

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held yesterday that friends’ gifts of wine, steak dinners, and other luxury items can constitute the types of personal benefit needed to establish a breach of duty in connection with a prosecution for insider trading. The court’s May 26, 2016 decision in United States v. Parigian also … Continue Reading

California Federal Court Holds That U.S. Securities Laws Do Not Apply to Unsponsored, Unlisted ADRs

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held on May 20, 2016 that the federal securities laws do not apply to U.S. transactions in unlisted, unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) for a foreign issuer’s shares. The decision in Stoyas v. Toshiba Corporation also held that principles of international comity and forum non … Continue Reading

N.Y. Court of Appeals Adopts Business Judgment Rule, with Conditions, for Going-Private Mergers

The New York Court of Appeals has followed Delaware in holding that the business-judgment rule applies to going-private mergers as long as certain shareholder-protective measures are met. The court’s May 5, 2016 decision in In the Matter of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. Shareholder Litigation, Case No. 54, adopts the standard set forth by the Delaware Supreme … Continue Reading

Petrobras Rulings on SLUSA Preemption and Brazilian-Law Damages

In re Petrobras Securities Litigation continues to produce interesting developments – this time on SLUSA preemption and Brazilian law.  On March 12, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (“SLUSA”) does not preempt claims asserted under foreign law and that Brazilian law … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Reinforces Liability Standard in Securities Cases Based on Statements of Opinion

On March 4, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinforced the stringency of the new standard for liability in securities cases arising from allegedly misleading statements of opinion. Construing the Supreme Court’s 2015 Omnicare decision, the Second Circuit held in Gen. Partners Glenn Tongue v. Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Inc. that a statement … Continue Reading

U.S. Court Certifies Classes in Petrobras Securities Litigation

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York yesterday certified two classes of investors who had purchased Petrobras securities on U.S. exchanges or in other U.S. transactions. The February 2, 2016 decision in In re Petrobras Securities Litigation held that potential questions about whether foreign courts would recognize a U.S. class-action judgment and … Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Rejects Another Disclosure-Only M&A Settlement and Warns of “Increasingly Vigilant” Scrutiny

The Delaware Court of Chancery last week dealt another blow to disclosure-only settlements of merger litigation and refused to approve a proposed class-action settlement arising from Zillow, Inc.’s acquisition of Trulia, Inc. The court’s decision held that the supplemental disclosures that formed the basis of the settlement were not “material or even helpful to Trulia’s … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Review Insider-Trading Decision on Personal Benefit

The Supreme Court agreed today to review the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision concerning the “personal benefit” required to establish a claim for insider trading.  The grant of certiorari in Salman v. United States (No. 15-628) could resolve a possible split between the Ninth Circuit and the Second Circuit on the type of … Continue Reading

Top 10 Whistleblowing And Retaliation Events Of 2015

In 2015, we saw high-profile whistleblower litigation around the country under a variety of statutes (such as SOX and Dodd-Frank) that yielded decisions expanding the scope of protected activity and even limiting defenses to causation. We also saw significant activity from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Whistleblower that caused employers to revisit … Continue Reading

Southern District of Florida Case Challenging Bylaw Requiring Minimum Stake to Sue Dismissed

As we have previously discussed, there has been a growing trend of corporations’ adopting various types of bylaws to define the bounds of shareholder litigation. These include forum-selection bylaws (see here) and fee-shifting bylaws (now prohibited in Delaware for stock corporations as discussed here). A novel approach, utilized by at least three Florida corporations, is … Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Joins Seventh Circuit in Rejecting Court Challenges to Pending SEC Administrative Enforcement Proceedings

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held today that federal District Courts do not have subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain challenges to ongoing SEC administrative enforcement proceedings. A party to a pending administrative proceeding must defend against that proceeding and then seek review from the SEC Commissioners and, eventually, the federal … Continue Reading

A Farewell to Alms? Peppercorn Settlements of M&A Litigation

An apparently frustrated Delaware Vice Chancellor recently approved yet another disclosure-only settlement of yet another challenge to a merger, but seemed intent on signaling that such proposed class-action settlements might not fare so well in the future.  Vice Chancellor Glasscock’s September 17, 2015 decision in In re Riverbed Technology, Inc. Stockholders Litigation (Del. Ch. Ct.) repeatedly … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Holds Tooley Direct vs. Derivative Rule Is No Bar to Parent Corporation’s Contract Claim

As previously reported, in NAF Holdings, LLC v. Li & Fung (Trading) Limited, 772 F.3d 740 (2d Cir. 2014), the Second Circuit certified to the Delaware Supreme Court an unusual question regarding whether the direct vs. derivative test for stockholder claims would bar a direct breach of contract claim by a parent corporation whose subsidiary … Continue Reading

Delaware Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Bylaws on Fee-Shifting

Last week, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 75, which amends the Delaware General Corporation Law to prohibit Delaware stock corporations from adopting bylaws that force shareholders to pay legal fees if they do not prevail in lawsuits asserting internal corporate claims against Delaware corporations.  The legislation also allows Delaware corporations to designate Delaware … Continue Reading

DOJ Breaks its Silence in 2015 FCPA Enforcement

Last week, the DOJ announced its first corporate enforcement action under the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (“FCPA”) for 2015. IAP World Services, Inc., a Florida-based defense and government contractor, agreed to pay $7.1 million in a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) for conspiring to bribe Kuwaiti officials in exchange for a contract to build a large-scale homeland … Continue Reading

Delaware House Passes Bill Prohibiting Bylaws on Fee-Shifting

Yesterday, the Delaware House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill prohibiting publicly traded corporations from adopting bylaws that force shareholders to pay legal fees if they do not prevail in lawsuits asserting internal corporate claims against Delaware corporations.  The bill would also allow Delaware corporations to designate Delaware – but not any other state – … Continue Reading

Delaware Senate Passes Bill Prohibiting Bylaws on Fee Shifting

Yesterday, the Delaware Senate passed legislation prohibiting publicly-traded corporations from adopting bylaws that force shareholders to pay legal fees if they bring internal corporate claims against the company in court and do not win. The legislation also allows Delaware corporations to designate Delaware – but not any other state – as the exclusive forum for … Continue Reading
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