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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Another Diversity Suit Stifled

Last week, yet another federal court dismissed a shareholder derivative suit that claimed a company had failed to diversify its corporate leadership team.  Shareholders had alleged that Opko Health Inc., a Miami-based medical company, failed to nominate or appoint minorities to the board and executive management team despite public statements celebrating the company’s diverse staff.… Continue Reading

L Brands Settles Derivative Suits

On July 30, 2021, L Brands, the parent company behind Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, settled a rash of derivatives actions which had alleged “toxic” workplace conditions and “a culture of misogyny” at the company.  We previously detailed the allegations in this space as part of our ongoing review of shareholder attempts to … 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

Second Circuit Upholds Insider Trading Conviction, Finding Sufficient Confidentiality Duty and Personal Benefit

The Second Circuit yesterday affirmed the insider trading conviction of the principal of a potential acquiror who, in breach of a nondisclosure agreement with a potential target company, had provided a tippee with nonpublic information about an impending acquisition of the target. The decision in United States v. Chow held that: The nondisclosure agreement (“NDA”) between … Continue Reading

So Nice They Did It Twice: SEC Continues to Examine ESG Disclosure Requirements

On Monday, the SEC asked for public comments on a new, standardized ESG disclosure framework that would require issuers to disclose certain climate and other ESG-related risks. The comment request—which encapsulates public and private company disclosures—includes 15 questions with the goal of providing a “consistent, comparable, and reliable” framework to allow investors to use ESG … Continue Reading

The “ABC’s” of ESG

In 2020, trillions of dollars flooded ESG funds, and many analysts are expecting this trend to continue in 2021. BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, plans to have $1.2 trillion in ESG assets in the next 10 years, and an estimated one-third of all U.S. assets under management are already sustainably invested.  Given the … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Reaffirms that Federal Securities Laws Do Not Apply to Predominantly Foreign Transactions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reaffirmed yesterday that the federal securities laws do not apply to “predominantly foreign” securities transactions even if those transactions might have taken place in the United States.  The ruling in Cavello Bay Reinsurance Ltd. v. Shubin Stein (No. 20-1371) reinforces the Second Circuit’s prior decisions concerning the … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Upholds Insider-Trading Conviction and Clarifies Scope of Requisite Fiduciary Relationship

The Second Circuit yesterday affirmed the insider-trading conviction of a doctor who, in breach of a confidentiality agreement, had traded on nonpublic information about a drug trial in which he had been participating.  The decision in United States v. Kosinski (2d Cir. Sept. 22, 2020) held that: A person can be convicted of insider trading under both … Continue Reading

Corporate Scienter Requires Link Between Employees with Knowledge and the Alleged Misstatements

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held yesterday that a securities-fraud plaintiff cannot establish corporate scienter without pleading facts showing that employees who allegedly knew of underlying corporate misconduct had some connection to the corporation’s purportedly false or misleading public statements. The decision in Jackson v. Abernathy should prevent securities plaintiffs from establishing “collective” … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Rules That Corporate Charters Can Require Litigation of Federal Securities Act Claims in Federal Court

The Delaware Supreme Court ruled today that Delaware corporations can adopt charter provisions requiring that actions under the federal Securities Act of 1933 be filed in a federal court. The decision in Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi gives Delaware corporations a way to avoid state-court or multi-forum litigation of Securities Act claims by channeling all such cases into … Continue Reading

California Federal Court Holds that U.S. Securities Laws Apply to Unsponsored, Unlisted ADRs

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held on January 28, 2020 that the federal securities laws 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 conveniens do … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Holds that a “Personal Benefit” Is Not Required for Insider Trading Under Criminal Securities Statute

The Second Circuit held earlier this week that the criminal statute proscribing securities fraud permits convictions for insider trading without proof that the provider of material, nonpublic information received a personal benefit in exchange for that information, even though proof of a personal benefit would be required under the general securities-law statute prohibiting insider trading. … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Rejects Presumption of Confidentiality for Books-and-Records Productions

The Delaware Supreme Court yesterday rejected a presumption of confidentiality for documents produced pursuant to books-and-records inspection requests under § 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law.  The decision in Tiger v. Boast Apparel, Inc. (Del. Aug. 7, 2019) holds that courts can impose confidentiality restrictions in appropriate cases, but that some justification of confidentiality is necessary – … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds that Persons Who Do Not “Make” Misstatements Can Nevertheless Be Liable for Other Securities-Fraud Violations

The Supreme Court held on March 27 that persons who do not “make” material misstatements or omissions, but who disseminate them to potential investors with fraudulent intent, can be held to have violated other provisions of the securities laws that do not depend on actually “making” the misstatements or omissions.  The Court’s decision in Lorenzo … Continue Reading

The Importance of Documenting Corporate Actions: Delaware Supreme Court Requires Production of Emails in Books-and-Records Request

The Delaware Supreme Court held yesterday that a corporation can be required to produce emails and other electronic documents where necessary to satisfy a shareholder’s legitimate request to inspect corporate books and records under § 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law.  The Supreme Court also held that, under the circumstances of the case, a court … Continue Reading

First Appellate Decision Holds that SEC Can Bring Extraterritorial Enforcement Action Based on Conduct or Effects in United States

The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held today that the Securities and Exchange Commission may bring an enforcement action based on allegedly foreign securities transactions involving non-U.S. residents if sufficient conduct occurred in the United States.… Continue Reading

Insider Trading for Dummies: Judge Rakoff Tries to Simplify the Law

A lot of ink has been spilled over the crime of insider trading, which – in the view of U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff – “is a straightforward concept that some courts have managed to complicate.”  In his recent decision in United States v. Pinto-Thomaz (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 6, 2018), Judge Rakoff attempts to simplify insider-trading law … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Again Upholds Tipper/Tippee Liability from Gift of Information Without Close Relationship

The Second Circuit confirmed this week that a “meaningfully close personal relationship” is not required for insider-trading liability where a tipper discloses inside information as a gift with the intent to benefit the tippee.  The June 25, 2018 decision on panel rehearing in United States v. Martoma (No. 14-3599) retreats from the panel’s original decision and no longer … Continue Reading

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
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