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

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Joseph Hartunian

Joe Hartunian is an associate in the Litigation Department.

Joe earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an executive editor of the Michigan Journal of Law Reform. Joe previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Peter W. Hall of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Prior to law school, Joe served as a legislative aide for Senator Charles E. Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, focusing on issues related to opioid abuse, telecommunications and gun safety. Upon graduation, he returned to the committee as an advisor to Senator Amy Klobuchar on the nomination of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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CytoDyn Faces Continued Shareholder Pressure

The spate of shareholder actions against biotech companies relating to COVID-19 treatments shows no signs of stopping, and now, derivative lawsuits are following the initial wave of securities class actions.  For example, late last week, a shareholder of CytoDyn, Inc., brought a derivative action against certain officers and directors of the company.  CytoDyn is a … Continue Reading

All-Seeing Bylaws Help Block Diversity Suit

The rash of shareholder derivative actions alleging violations of fiduciary duties tied to companies’ diversity measures are continuing to take a beating in the Northern District of California.  We previously posted about the dismissal on forum selection clause grounds of a derivative action brought in that court by a shareholder of The Gap, Inc. alleging … Continue Reading

Another Diversity Suit Tossed on Forum Selection Grounds

This week, another shareholder derivative suit was dismissed based on a forum selection clause contained in the company’s bylaws. In November 2020, a shareholder filed a derivative action alleging that directors and officers of The Gap, Inc., an apparel company, had failed to create meaningful diversity on the Board of Directors on within the company’s … Continue Reading

Pinterest Diversity Suits Multiply

Late last month, a new batch of plaintiffs filed a stockholder derivative suit against Pinterest, Inc., in Delaware Chancery Court, making similar allegations to those made in a pair of cases filed in the Northern District of California in 2019. The plaintiffs allege that Pinterest executives ignored and failed to correct systemic race and gender … Continue Reading

Diversity Derivative Suit Dismissed

A shareholder derivative action which had alleged that Facebook’s lack of diversity caused a negative effect on its stock price was rejected by a California federal magistrate judge last week. The court held that the shareholder plaintiff had not pled demand futility with particularity, as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 23.1, because she had … Continue Reading

SEC Punts NASDAQ Diversity Decision

After receiving extensive outside pressure from a variety of sources, include Senate Republicans, the SEC announced last week that it is deferring its decision on whether to approve a Nasdaq proposal to require “diverse” members on companies’ boards. The SEC is also simultaneously awaiting the confirmation of its new Chairman, Gary Gensler, which is still … Continue Reading

Pinning Down Corporate Leadership

An interesting shareholder derivative suit was filed on November 30, 2020 in the Northern District of California against Pinterest, Inc. Pinterest, a visual discovery engine popular for collecting ideas for weddings and aggregating recipes, went public in April 2019. The complaint alleges that Pinterest executives “breached their fiduciary duties to the [c]ompany by perpetrating or … Continue Reading

Cakes Gone Bad: The Cheesecake Factory Faces Securities Scrutiny

COVID-related securities claims continue to rattle the marketplace. On December 7, a leading plaintiffs firm announced an investigation on behalf of shareholders of The Cheesecake Factory Inc., just days after the SEC announced it was settling charges against the company for making misleading disclosures about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business operations … Continue Reading

SolarWinds Government Data Breach Leads to Securities Action

The massive data breach of the United States Commerce and Treasury Departments that has roiled the federal government has resulted in federal securities litigation. On January 4, 2021, Plaintiff-Shareholder Timothy Bremer filed a class action complaint against SolarWinds and SolarWinds’ corporate executives in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas. SolarWinds … Continue Reading
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