As we reported here, on May 5, 2023, the SEC issued an award of $279 million to a whistleblower. This is the largest award the SEC has issued to an individual whistleblower in the history of the SEC Office of the Whistleblower’s program.
A California federal court held that a California statute requiring California-based corporations to have a minimum number of directors from designated under-represented groups violates the federal Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The decision in Alliance for Fair Board Recruitment v. Weber (E.D. Cal. May 16, 2023) is one of the latest skirmishes in the culture wars raging around diversity and other ESG-related matters. The ruling addresses the same law that a California state court previously invalidated in a decision that is currently on appeal.
A California court invalidated a state law requiring that boards of directors of public companies based in California include members from under-represented groups, including persons of several races and ethnic groups and those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The April 1, 2022 decision in Crest v. Padilla, No. 20ST-CV-37513, by Judge Terry Green of the Los Angeles Superior Court, was issued in one of several cases attacking California laws designed to increase diversity on corporate boards of directors, a significant goal of the ESG movement.
Private companies with cutting-edge technology have become particularly attractive targets for special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). These private companies may choose to go public via SPAC for a number of reasons that include the ability to share projections with investors, better valuation prospects and deal execution certainty. Much like companies that go public by way of a traditional IPO, however, companies that go public via SPAC can also become subject to Section 10(b) securities class actions. The risk for this type of company may be particularly acute given its high growth prospects or the volatility that may accompany its securities. An example of a company that went public via SPAC that was quickly confronted with this type of action is Velodyne.