Delaware Update: Court of Chancery Declines to Bind a Non-signatory Parent Corporation to Forum Selection Clause

In Neurvana Med., LLC v. Balt USA, LLC, No. 2019-0034-KSJM, 2019 Del. Ch. LEXIS 995 (Ch. Sep. 18, 2019), the Court of Chancery declined to exercise personal jurisdiction over Balt International, S.A.S. (“Balt International”), a company headquartered in France and a non-signatory entity to a purchase agreement that included a forum selection clause, on the grounds that Balt International was not ‘closely related’ to a purchase agreement entered into by Balt International’s wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Balt USA, LLC (“Balt USA”). A key takeaway for practitioners is that the court sets a fairly high bar for plaintiffs to overcome when trying to enforce a forum selection clause against a non-signatory, and further provides a helpful guidepost for foreign organizations when conducting operations through a domestic subsidiary in the United States and the likelihood of a Delaware court exercising personal jurisdiction as a result thereof.     Continue Reading

Third Circuit Reversal a Pyrrhic Win for SEC in Ongoing Statute of Limitations Saga

In Securities & Exchange Comm. v. Gentile, No. 18-1242, 2019 WL 4686251 (3d Cir. Sept. 26, 2019), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit took up the question of whether Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) injunctions constitute penalties subject to a five-year statute of limitations. In vacating a district court decision holding that they do, the Third Circuit held in this case of first impression that injunctions properly tailored to prevent future harm are not penalties. However, the opinion did not reach a determination as to whether the specific relief at issue had been so tailored, remanding that decision to the lower court along with the admonition that relief extending beyond the preventative into the punitive may not issue as an injunction. While the Third Circuit’s decision shielded the SEC’s injunctive powers from wholesale subjection to a five-year statute of limitations, it charted what qualifies as appropriate injunctive relief and, ultimately, may operate to curtail unduly broad injunctions.        Continue Reading

Third Circuit Holds that SLUSA Does Not Preclude Class Action Opt-Outs from Pursuing Individual Actions

In North Sound Capital, LLC v. Merck & Co, Inc., No. 18-2317, 2019 WL 4309663, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 27518 (3d Cir. Sept. 12, 2019), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a New Jersey district court ruling, which held that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (“SLUSA”) precluded state law claims in lawsuits brought by investors who opted-out of class action lawsuits. In reversing, the Third Circuit determined that the opt-out plaintiffs could indeed bring their state law fraud claims against the same defendants as the class action lawsuits because their subsequently filed suits did not fall within the definition of a “covered class action” under SLUSA. The decision provides helpful guidance as to whether investors who choose to opt-out of class action lawsuits may be precluded under SLUSA from proceeding with individual lawsuits seeking similar relief. Continue Reading

Gauging Interest: SEC Votes to Approve Proposal to Expand “Test-the-Waters” Rules

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced on September 26, 2019 that it voted to adopt the application of “testing-the-waters” rules to all issuers who engage in raising capital in the public markets. This represents a significant expansion of that accommodation, as those rules were previously only available to certain issuers classified as emerging growth companies or “EGCs.” The new Rule 163B will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Continue Reading

SEC Looks to Modernize Disclosure Approach

On August 8, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced that it voted to propose rule amendments to modernize the description of business, legal proceedings, and risk factor disclosures that public companies are required to make pursuant to Regulation S-K under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Continue Reading

How FDA Considerations Impact Food and Beverage Acquisitions

This post was originally published on FoodDive.com.

When considering an acquisition of a food and beverage company, potential buyers of a company or its assets should pay particular attention to U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements and their implications on the target’s business.

Buyers should be cognizant of the regulatory issues at the beginning of the process so that their risk can be assessed in the context of the transaction, and in turn, be addressed by specific representations, covenants and indemnification provisions in the transaction documents. The following considerations should be top of mind throughout the course of due diligence and negotiations.  Continue Reading

New York Commercial Division Justices Provide Dueling Approaches to Discovery Stays in State Court Securities Litigation

In In re Everquote, Inc. Securities Litigation, 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 29242, No. 651177/2019, 2019 WL 3686065 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cnty. Aug. 7, 2019), Justice Andrew Borrok of the New York County Commercial Division stayed discovery pending a motion to dismiss a federal securities class action pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PSLRA”), diverging from the handful of state courts that have grappled with that statute’s application since the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund, 138 S.Ct. 1061 (2018) (“Cyan”). The PSLRA provides for an automatic discovery stay pending adjudication of motions to dismiss private securities actions, and has been interpreted to be a procedural mechanism meant to curb litigation abuses in securities cases. See 15 U.S.C. § 77z(b)(1). In his decision, Justice Borrok joined the ever-growing list of judges tasked with deciding whether such mechanisms apply to state court securities litigation in the wake of Cyan. Continue Reading

New Bill Seeks to Bring Clarity to Insider Trading Law

On May 7, 2019, Representative James Himes (D-Conn) introduced the “Insider Trading Prohibition Act” (H.R. 2534). The proposed legislation would amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C § 78a et seq. (the “Act”) by inserting a new section that defines the elements of criminal insider trading.

The bill’s objective is to eliminate the ambiguity of the offence as it is conceived under current law. It would also significantly expand the potential scope of criminal liability for insider trading in several ways: first, by eliminating the existing “personal benefit” requirement; second, by expanding the scienter requirement from willful to reckless use of “wrongfully obtained” matpreliminarerial non-public information; and third, by expanding the definition of “wrongfully obtained” information to include stolen, hacked, and fraudulently obtained information. Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Allows Caremark Claim to Proceed Against Directors of Ice Cream Manufacturer Following Listeria Outbreak

*October 16, 2019: Update On Caremark Claims Following the Delaware Supreme Court’s Decision in Marchand v. Barnhill

In In re Clovis Oncology, Inc., C.A. No. 2017-0222-JRS, 2019 Del. Ch. LEXIS 1293 (Del. Ch. Oct. 1, 2019), the Delaware Court of Chancery applied Marchand on a motion to dismiss and determined that the complaint adequately pled a Caremark claim against a biopharmaceutical company’s board of directors. The board allegedly ignored red flags indicating the company was not adhering to FDA-required protocols in its clinical trials for the only promising drug of three drugs it then had under development, causing the FDA to withhold approval. The resulting corporate “trauma” included a 70% market capitalization loss. Like the ice cream manufacturer in Marchand, the Chancery Court characterized the company as a “monoline company operat[ing] in a highly regulated industry,” where compliance with FDA-required protocols constitute an “intrinsically critical” business operation involving a “mission critical product.” Although it acknowledged that Caremark claims remain “among the hardest to plead and prove,” it noted that Caremark liability is more likely to attach when the alleged oversight failure concerns “compliance with positive law” as opposed to the “manag[ing] of business risk.” It portrayed Marchand as further “underscor[ing] the importance of the board’s oversight function when [a] company is operating in the midst of ‘mission critical’ regulatory compliance risk.” According to the Chancery Court, Marchand “makes clear” that, in such instances, “the board’s oversight function must be more rigorously exercised.”

Clovis provides a first glimpse at the Delaware Chancery Court’s reaction to the Delaware Supreme Court’s Marchand decision. Clovis confirms that, in complying with public health and safety regulations (including those governing clinical trials), a heightened level of oversight is expected, particularly when the oversight failure may result in trauma that is significant relative to the company’s overall operations. Continue Reading

Opportunity Zones Update NEW PROPOSED TREASURY REGULATIONS (Part III)

Qualified Opportunity Funds

The Opportunity Zone tax incentive program allows taxpayers that invest in a Qualified Opportunity Fund to (i) defer paying taxes on the capital gain from the sale or exchange of appreciated assets; (ii) receive a permanent exclusion from taxation of up to 15% on that deferred gain, and (iii) for taxpayers that hold their investment for at least 10 years, a permanent exclusion from taxation for any appreciation in excess of the deferred gain. Continue Reading

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