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John Stigi is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group and Co-Leader of the firm's Securities Enforcement and Litigation Team.

In Macquarie Infrastructure Corp. v. Moab Partners, No. 22-1165, 2024 WL 1588706 (U.S. Apr. 12, 2024) (“MIC”), the United States Supreme Court (Sotomayor, J.) held unanimously that “pure omissions” in a Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filing do not support liability under SEC Rule 10b-5(b). The Court ruled that the failure to make a required disclosure can give rise to a Rule 10b-5(b) claim only if the non-disclosure renders affirmative “statements made” misleading. Put differently, if a company elects to speak, it must tell the whole truth (or at least “information necessary to ensure that the [affirmative] statements made are clear and complete”); but a company’s silence on an issue is not securities fraud under Rule 10b-5(b), even if the company is otherwise duty-bound to disclose.Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds “Pure Omissions” Are Not Actionable Under Rule 10b-5(b)

In Ap-Fonden v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., C.A. No. 2022-1001-KSJM, 2024 WL 863290 (Del. Ch. Feb. 29, 2024), the Delaware Court of Chancery (McCormick, C.) declined to dismiss a claim alleging that the Board of Directors of defendant Activision Blizzard, Inc. (“Activision”) violated Section 251(b) of the Delaware General Corporation Law (the “DGCL”) by approving a draft merger agreement between Activision and Microsoft, Inc. (“Microsoft”) that was not sufficiently final. The Court held that to comply with Section 251(b), the version of a merger agreement the board must consider and approve need not be “execution ready” but must be “essentially complete.” Practitioners should pay close attention to the Court’s holdings here as it may vary from what some consider customary market practice.Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Puts Practitioners on Notice Regarding Voting Formalities Around Merger Agreements

In Palkon v. Maffei, C.A. No. 2023-0449-JTL, 2024 Del. Ch. LEXIS 48 (Del. Ch. Feb. 20, 2024) (Laster, V.C.) the Delaware Court of Chancery considered whether a controlling stockholder’s approval of transactions reincorporating two Delaware corporations in Nevada is subject to entire fairness review where there was a lack of procedural protections that would give the approval of the transactions the patina of arms-length bargaining. Because the stockholders’ derivative complaint contained allegations that (if true) established that the disputed transactions adversely affected investor protections, the Court of Chancery applied the inherently-factual “entire fairness” standard of review and denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss.Continue Reading Delaware Corporations Must Employ Procedural Safeguards When Approving a Reincorporation that Could Benefit a Controlling Stockholder to Avoid Entire Fairness Standard of Review

In Segway Inc. v. Hong Cai, 2023 Del. Ch. LEXIS 643 (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2023), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Will, V.C.) dismissed a claim for breach of fiduciary duty brought by Segway Inc. (the “Company”) against its former President and Vice President of Finance (the “Officer”). The Company framed its claim as a claim for breach of the duty of oversight, commonly known as a Caremark claim (from the landmark case In re Caremark Int’l Inc. Derivative Litigation, 698 A.2d 959 (Del. Ch. 1996)). Continue Reading The Delaware Court of Chancery Confirms that Duty of Oversight Claims Against Corporate Officers Are Subject to the Same High Pleading Standards Applicable to Duty of Oversight Claims Against Corporate Directors

In Briskin v. Shopify, Inc., No. 22-15815, 2023 WL 8225346 (9th Cir. Nov. 28, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Canada-based company Shopify, Inc. (“Shopify”), which provides a web-based payment processing platform to online merchants across the United States (and the world), is not subject to specific personal jurisdiction in California courts under California data privacy laws based solely upon Shopify’s collection, retention and use of customer data from California residents. In making this ruling, the Ninth Circuit became the first Circuit in the nation to address this type of personal jurisdiction question involving a global online payment platform.Continue Reading In a Case of First Impression, Ninth Circuit Addresses Personal Jurisdiction Issues Involving Non-Resident Corporation Providing a Web-Based Payment Processing Platform

In Roth v. Foris Ventures, LLC, Nos. 22-16632, 22-16633, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 30081 (9th Cir. Nov. 13, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit partially reversed the dismissal of a shareholder derivative suit seeking to recover disgorgement of short-swing profits under Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78p(b). The three-judge panel held that the district court erred in holding that the company’s board was required to approve the stock sale transactions for the specific purpose of exempting it from Section 16(b) liability pursuant to Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Rule 16b-3(d)(1). The Court’s decision provides a board of directors with more latitude to approve securities transactions by Section 16 reporting persons without risk of liability under the short-swing profits rule.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Provides Guidance on SEC Rule 16b-3 Short-Swing Profit Liability Exemption

In Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc., No. 2021-0202, — A.3d —-, 2023 WL 4364524 (Del. Ch. July 6, 2023) (McCormick, C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed the circumstances under which the Court will award a shareholder plaintiff attorneys’ fees in disclosure-based deal litigation. In particular, Anderson analyzed the history of disclosure-based deal litigation in Delaware and the Court’s evolving standard for awarding fees where shareholder action has caused a company to issue additional pre-merger disclosures “mooting” pending deal litigation. Prior to the decision in Anderson, the state of the law was unsettled. The first line of cases would award fees as long as the shareholder plaintiff secured additional disclosures that were “helpful” such that they provided “some benefit” to shareholders. The second line of cases, however, adopted a stricter standard requiring that the supplemental disclosures be “plainly material.” In an effort to combat the so-called “deal tax” associated with disclosure-based merger litigation, Anderson comes out in favor of the stricter standard. Going forward, the Court will only award disclosure-based mootness fees when the complaining shareholder obtains additional disclosures that are “plainly material” to the shareholders. Companies, boards and advisors engaging in M&A transactions should pay attention to this decision as it will weigh on the proper strategy for approaching a shareholder challenge to an M&A transaction. Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Clarifies Heightened Standard for Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees in Disclosure-Based Deal Litigation

In Lee v. Fisher, No. 21-15923, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 13521 (9th Cir. June 1, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, affirmed the dismissal of a shareholder derivative complaint alleging, among other things, violations of Section 14(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 78n(a), and SEC Rule 14a-9, 17 C.F.R. § 240.14a-9 (collectively, the “Proxy Claims”), enforcing a forum-selection clause in the defendant company’s bylaws designating the Delaware Court of Chancery as the exclusive jurisdiction for adjudicating any derivative claims involving the company. By affirming the dismissal, the Ninth Circuit called into question whether the Proxy Claims were properly classified as derivative claims, noting that the Exchange Act’s antiwaiver provision was not triggered when the shareholder plaintiff could pursue the Proxy Claims directly in federal court. The Ninth Circuit’s decision creates a circuit split with the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Seafarers Pension Plan ex rel. Boeing Co. v. Bradway, 23 F.4th 714 (7th Cir. 2022), raising the specter that the United States Supreme Court eventually will weigh in on the issue.Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Enforces Delaware Forum Selection Clause to Affirm Dismissal of Derivative Claim for Alleged Violation of Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

In Slack Technologies, LLC v. Pirani, No. 22-200, 2023 U.S. LEXIS 2301 (U.S. June 1, 2023), the Supreme Court of the United States (Gorsuch, J.) held that Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 77k, requires plaintiffs to show that they purchased securities registered under the registration statement they seek to challenge, a requirement the Supreme Court referred to as “tracing.” In Slack, the public offering occurred under circumstances that did not allow the plaintiff or other purchasers to trace any security to the challenged registration statement. As a result, the Court vacated the decision of a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that had relieved plaintiff of a tracing obligation. The Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion confirms that courts must strictly enforce Section 11’s tracing requirement even when doing so precludes all purchasers in an offering from accessing Section 11’s liability provisions.Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Holds That Section 11 Plaintiffs Must Purchase Securities Issued Under the Registration Statement They Seek to Challenge

This article was originally published in Law360 on April 14, 2023.

Providing legal advice to business entities raises important issues regarding the application of attorney-client privilege between the entity and its directors. Delaware’s approach to corporate privilege springs from the recognition that corporate directors and the corporation they control are deemed “joint clients” of legal advice received while the directors form part of the board.Continue Reading Protecting Privilege in Case of a Dispute with Former Director

In ZF Micro Solutions, Inc. v. TAT Capital Partners, Ltd., 2022 WL 4090879 (Cal. App. Aug. 8, 2022), the Fourth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal decided, as a matter of first impression, that a non-derivative breach of fiduciary duty cause of action seeking compensatory damages was legal rather than equitable, and therefore required a jury trial as a matter of law. The Court arrived at its conclusion by evaluating the right and relief requested. In so doing, the Court concluded that because the claim at hand exhibited all the characteristics of a cause of action at law, it was legal, rather than equitable, and should have been tried to a jury.Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Holds that a Corporation’s Direct Cause of Action for Breach of Fiduciary Duty is Legal Rather than Equitable, Requiring a Trial by Jury