Category Archives: Corporate Governance

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Justice Friedman Allows Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim to Proceed Against Corporate Directors Under Delaware Law

In AP Services, LLP v. Lobell et. al, No. 651613/2012, 2015 NY Slip Op 31115(U) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. June 19, 2015) (argued Feb. 21, 2014), Justice Friedman, applying Delaware Law, denied a motion to dismiss plaintiff AP Services, LLP’s first cause of action alleging breach of fiduciary duty against the defendants, former directors of Paramount … Continue Reading

Pay to Play: Appellate Division Upholds Ruling that Payment is Required to Qualify for Champerty Safe Harbor Provision

In Justinian Capital SPC v. WestLB AG, etc. et al., 2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 04381 (1st Dep’t May 21, 2015), the Appellate Division affirmed the February 25, 2014 decision of the New York County Supreme Court, Commercial Division (Kornreich, J.), 43 Misc. 3d 598, holding that actual payment for the transfer of rights to a … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Reinforces Importance of Clear and Precise Bylaw Provisions and Specifically Drafted Notices of Annual Meetings

In Hill International, Inc. v. Opportunity Partners L.P., No. 305, 2015, 2015 WL 4035069 (Del. July 2, 2015), the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Chancery’s grant of injunctive relief as it recognized the plaintiff stockholder’s — as opposed to defendant corporation’s — interpretation of a bylaw as its plain meaning interpretation.  In so … Continue Reading

“Dead Hand Proxy Puts” Garner Increased Stockholder Scrutiny In Delaware

A ruling last fall by the Delaware Chancery Court has prompted a wave of 8 Del. C. § 220 books and records inspection demands on (and threatened litigation against) Delaware corporations that have entered into credit agreements containing so-called “dead hand proxy put” provisions.  A “dead hand proxy put” provision allows the corporation’s lenders to … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Holds that Creditor Plaintiffs in Derivative Suits May Satisfy Standing Requirement by Showing Corporation’s Insolvency at Time of Suit, Regardless of Later Solvency

In Quadrant Structured Products Co., Ltd. v. Vertin, C.A. No. 6990-VCL, 2015 WL 2062115 (Del. Ch. May 4, 2015), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that a creditor plaintiff needs only establish that a corporation was insolvent at the time the suit was filed in order to establish standing to sue derivatively on behalf of … Continue Reading

California and Delaware Courts Agree: Amendments to Corporate Bylaws Do Not Apply Retroactively to Impair Pursuit of Previously Accrued Claims

Two recent decisions, one from the Delaware Court of Chancery and one from the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, refused to apply bylaws that impaired a shareholder/member plaintiff’s ability to pursue his or her claims against the corporation where the the relevant bylaw was adopted after the plaintiff’s claims accrued.… Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Confirms Chancery Court’s Broad Authority to Impose Use Restrictions on Information Obtained From Section 220 Books and Records Inspections

In United Technologies Corp. v. Treppel, No. 127, 2014, 2014 Del. LEXIS (Del. Dec. 23, 2014), the Delaware Supreme Court held that the Delaware Court of Chancery is authorized regulate how stockholders use information obtained through books and records inspections under Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“Section 220”).  The defendant corporation, in … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds that Under Nevada Law, a Prior Stockholder’s Litigation of Demand Futility Precludes Another Stockholder From Litigating Demand Futility In a Subsequent Derivative Action

In Arduini v. Hart, 2014 WL 7156764 (9th Cir. Dec. 17, 2014), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considered whether the doctrine of issue preclusion prevents a stockholder from relitigating a prior adverse determination concerning demand futility in derivative action brought by a different stockholder.  Applying Nevada law, the Court held … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Applies Delaware Law to Deny Discovery in Shareholder Derivative Action

In Jones v. Martinez, 230 Cal. App. 4th 1248 (2014), the California Court of Appeal, Second Division, held that a plaintiff asserting a shareholder derivative action against directors of a Delaware corporation in a California state court may not obtain discovery before the plaintiff establishes legal standing to sue derivatively as required under Delaware law.  … Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Rejects Contemporaneous Ownership Requirement For Creditors Asserting Derivative Claims

In Quadrant Structured Products Co. v. Vertin, C.A. No. 6990-VCL, 2014 Del. Ch. LEXIS 193 (Del. Ch. Oct. 1, 2014), the Delaware Court of Chancery held that when creditors of insolvent firms assert derivative claims, they need not meet the contemporaneous ownership requirement applied to stockholder-plaintiffs.  Section 327 of the Delaware General Corporation Law requires … Continue Reading

Applying a Legal Bandaid to Defective Acts: Delaware Law Creates New Procedures to Ratify Defective Corporate Acts

On June 30, 2013, the State of Delaware amended the Delaware General Corporations Law (the “DGCL”) to include two new sections, Section 204 and Section 205 (together, the “Ratification Provisions”). Set to take effect on April 1, 2014, the Ratification Provisions provide Delaware companies with two alternative processes to remedy defective corporate acts that may … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Holds Delaware Fiduciary Duty Law Preempted By Federal Interest In Fiscal Stability

In Starr International Co. v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, No. 12-5022-cv, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 1770 (2d. Cir. Jan. 29, 2014), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of claims against the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“FRBNY”) for alleged breaches of its fiduciary duties, holding … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Holds That a Minority Stockholder Has No Common Law Right to a Conflict-Free Board Decision Regarding the Repurchase of Shares

In Blaustein v. Lord Baltimore Capital Corp., No. 272, 2013, 2014 Del. LEXIS 30 (Del. Jan. 21, 2014), the Delaware Supreme Court held that a closely-held corporation’s directors owe no fiduciary duty to decide, free from conflicts of interest, whether a corporation will repurchase a minority stockholder’s shares in the corporation.  Additionally, the Supreme Court … Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Holds Receiver is Required to Defend Lawsuits Brought After a Corporation is Wound-Up; Finds No Generally Applicable Statute of Limitation for Claims Against a Dissolved Corporation

In Anderson v Krafft-Murphy Co. Inc., 2013 Del. LEXIS 597 (Del. Nov. 26, 2013), the Delaware Supreme Court held that Sections 278 and 279 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, 8 Del. C. §§ 278-279, require a dissolved corporation to act through a court-appointed trustee or receiver to defend against third party lawsuits brought after the … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Holds That Challenges to Corporate Elections Under Corporations Code Section 709 May be Predicated Upon Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Conflict of Interest Allegations

In Morrical v. Rogers, No. A137011, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 811 (Cal. App. Oct. 10, 2013), the California Court of Appeal, First District, held that the summary procedures set forth in California Corporations Code § 709 may be used to contest corporate elections predicated upon complex and substantive allegations of corporate or directorial misconduct, such as … Continue Reading

Delaware Court of Chancery Upheld Enforceability of Bylaws with Forum Selection Clauses Unilaterally Adopted by Board of Directors

In Boilermakers Local 154 Retirement Fund v. Chevron Corp., C.A. No. 7220-CD, 2013 WL 3191981 (Del. Ch. June 25, 2013), the Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed facial challenges to the validity of corporate bylaws that restrict the forum where corporate governance litigation may be brought. The court rejected the argument that the bylaws were statutorily … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Establishes Procedural Framework for Obtaining Business Judgment Review for Going Private Transaction Sponsored By Majority Stockholders

In In re MFW Shareholder Litigation, C.A. No. 6566-CS, 2013 WL 2436341 (Del. Ch. May 29, 2013), the Delaware Court of Chancery analyzed one of the most important open questions of Delaware corporate law: whether it is possible for majority stockholders to structure a going private transaction to avoid “entire fairness” review by the Court … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Resolves Court of Appeal Split, Holding that Section 2010 of the California Corporations Code — California’s “Survival Statute” — Does Not Apply to Foreign Corporations

In Greb v. Diamond Int’l Corp., 2013 WL 628328 (Cal. Feb. 21, 2013), the California Supreme Court unequivocally and unanimously laid to rest the assertion that dissolved foreign corporations may be sued in California after the time of the statute of limitations provided by the laws under which the foreign corporations were incorporated. In so … Continue Reading

California Court of Appeal Recognizes That Wide Discretion Granted to a Board of Directors Under the Business Judgment Rule May Be Tempered By a Corporation’s Private Contractual Obligations to Its Shareholders/Members

In Scheenstra v. California Dairies, Inc., No. F062768, ___ Cal. Rptr. 3d ___, 2013 WL 363148 (Cal. App. 5th Dist. Jan. 30, 2013), the California Court of Appeal, Fifth District, affirmed the judgment of the California Superior Court, Tulare County, that the board of directors of defendant California Dairies, Inc. (“Cal Dairies”), a milk marketing … Continue Reading

Technical Change by Broadridge May Impact Retail Voting at Upcoming Annual Meetings

Most public companies use Broadridge for shareholder voting tasks related to their annual meetings. Due to a new interpretive position being taken by the SEC, Broadridge recently informed its clients of a technical change in its online, mobile and telephonic voting platforms that may adversely affect obtaining favorable shareholder votes, particularly from retail investors.… Continue Reading

SEC Adopts New Rules Calling For Greater Independence Standards For Compensation Committees And Their Advisers

In accordance with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Reform Act”) for adopting regulations required by section 952 of the Reform Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on June 20, 2012 issued a press release and published final rules (Release No. 33-9330) (the “Final Rules”) for compensation committee and … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Clarifies When Corporate Officers and Directors are Entitled to Mandatory Indemnification Under DGCL § 145

In Hermelin v. K-V Pharmaceutical Co., C.A. No. 6936-VCG, 2012 WL 395826 (Del. Ch. Feb. 7, 2012), the Delaware Court of Chancery considered whether the former chief executive officer (“CEO”) of a pharmaceutical company, against whom several regulatory and criminal actions had been brought, had been successful “on the merits or otherwise” such that he … Continue Reading

The March Towards Meaningful Reform for Small and Emerging Growth Companies Moves Forward – House Passes Measures to Open Private Capital Raising and Facilitate an On-Ramp of New IPOs

Building on months of momentum in Congress, on March 8, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act by a bi-partisan vote of 390-23. A similar bill, S. 1933, has been introduced in the Senate and may be voted on this month. The JOBS Act is intended to address … Continue Reading

California’s New Entities: Benefit Corporations and Flexible Purpose Corporations

By William Manierre As of January 1, 2012, two new subtypes of traditional business corporations may be organized under the California Corporations Code – benefit corporations (§§14600-14631) and flexible purpose corporations (§§2500-3503). Both free their directors from having to manage strictly for the economic benefit of shareholders, enabling them to address social objectives such as … Continue Reading