In the aftermath of Equifax’s data breach, a federal court recently found that allegations of poor cybersecurity coupled with misleading statements supported a proper cause of action. In its decision, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia allowed a securities fraud class action case to continue against Equifax. The lawsuit claims the company issued false or misleading statements regarding the strength and quality of its cybersecurity measures. In their amended complaint, the plaintiffs cite Equifax’s claims of “strong data security and confidentiality standards” and “a highly sophisticated data information network that includes advanced security, protections and redundancies,” when, according to the plaintiffs’ allegations, Equifax’s cybersecurity practices “were grossly deficient and outdated” and “failed to implement even the most basic security measures.” The court found that data security is a core aspect of Equifax’s business and that investors are likely to review representations on data security when making their investment decisions.
Continue Reading Court Finds Cybersecurity-Related Claims Sufficient in Securities Class Action

Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, 8 Del. C. § 220, provides that any stockholder of a Delaware corporation “shall, upon written demand under oath stating the purpose thereof, have the right during the usual hours for business to inspect for any proper purpose, and to make copies and extracts from . . . the corporation’s stock ledger, a list of its stockholders, and its other books and records.”  Whether emails and other electronically stored information (“ESI”) created and maintained by the corporation constitute “other books and records” within the meaning of Section 220 has been a matter of some uncertainty.  Recent decisions from the Delaware Courts provide useful guidance to practitioners on this question.
Continue Reading Delaware Courts Address Production of Emails and Other Electronically Stored Information In Response to Section 220 Demands

In Drulias v. 1st Century Bancshares, Inc., No. H045049, 2018 WL 6735137 (Cal. App. Dec. 21, 2018), the California Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, affirmed an order staying a stockholder lawsuit brought in the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County, on forum non conveniens grounds based upon enforcement of an exclusive Delaware forum selection bylaw. This decision confirms that California courts will enforce forum selection bylaws designating Delaware as the exclusive venue for intra-corporate claims. 
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Enforces Delaware Forum Selection Bylaw

In Sciabacucchi v. Salzberg, C.A. No. 2017-0931-JTL, 2018 WL 6719718 (Del. Ch. Dec. 19, 2018), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Laster, V.C.) held that a forum-selection provision in a Delaware corporation’s charter or bylaws which purported to govern external investor claims not involving the internal affairs of the corporation are not authorized under Delaware law. Thus, the Court declared ineffective a provision in a certificate of incorporation requiring any claim brought against it under the Securities Act of 1933 (“1933 Act”) to be filed in federal court. This decision clarifies the limits on the scope of forum selection provisions enacted by Delaware corporations.
Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Declares Ineffective Exclusive Federal Forum Provision for 1933 Act Claims

In People v. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, No. 40, 2018 WL 2899299 (N.Y. June 12, 2018), the Court of Appeals for the State of New York ruled that the three-year statute of limitations of Section 214(2) of the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (“CPLR”) applies to civil enforcement actions brought under the Martin Act (General Business Law article 23-A) on the basis of a “fraudulent practice” as defined in General Business Law § 352(1). In doing so, the Court overruled both the New York Supreme Court and the Appellate Division and rejected the New York Attorney General’s (“NYAG”) attempt to apply a six-year statute of limitations under CPLR 213(8), which governs the limitations period for common law fraud. The Court’s decision narrows the window of opportunity to assert civil securities fraud claims under the Martin Act’s more forgiving standard. Prosecutors wishing to avail themselves of CPLR 213’s generous six-year statute of limitations will now be required to demonstrate their civil securities fraud claims meet all of the elements of common law fraud.
Continue Reading New York Court of Appeals Rules that Civil Securities Fraud Claims Brought Under Martin Act are Subject to Three-Year Statute of Limitations

A recent California case may force companies doing business with foreign entities to reconsider—and maybe rewrite—their contracts. In Rockefeller Tech. Invs. (Asia) VII v. Changzhou Sinotype Tech. Co., No. B272170, 2018 WL 2455092 (Cal. App. June 1, 2018), the California Court of Appeal held that parties may not contract around the formal service requirements of the Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents, commonly referred to as the Hague Service Convention. The decision could have profound implications for international business.
Continue Reading Contracts with Foreign Companies May Require a Rewrite

In Bushansky v. Soon-Shiong, 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 493 (Cal. App. May 25, 2018), the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, affirmed the dismissal of a shareholder derivative action brought in the Superior Court of California, San Diego County, on forum non conveniens grounds based upon an exclusive Delaware forum selection clause in the corporation’s certificate of incorporation. This decision interpreted for the first time a condition in a forum selection clause requiring that the Delaware courts have personal jurisdiction over all indispensable parties in order to trigger exclusive forum selection. The Court rejected plaintiff’s assertion that Delaware personal jurisdiction must exist at the time of the filing of the suit, and instead held that post-filing conduct by a defendant voluntarily accepting Delaware personal jurisdiction within a reasonable timeframe thereafter was sufficient. In so doing, the Court disagreed expressly with a decision from the Washington Court of Appeals. This decision reflects continued deference by the California courts to Delaware forum selection clauses in certificates of incorporation.
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Enforces Delaware Forum Selection Clause Contained in Certificate of Incorporation

In Weingarten v. Monster Worldwide, Inc., C.A. No. 12931-VCG, 2017 WL 752179 (Del. Ch. Feb. 27, 2017), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Glasscock, V.C.) clarified when a plaintiff has standing to vitiate inspection rights under Delaware General Corporation Law Section 220, 8  Del. C. § 220.  In a case of first impression, the Court decided that the language of Section 220(c) does not confer standing to a former stockholder bringing an action to exercise his or her inspection rights after the former stockholder’s shares were canceled in a merger.  To reach this conclusion, the Court relied upon the plain meaning of the statute, eschewing policy arguments from both parties.
Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Holds that Cancellation of Shares Through Merger Deprives Stockholder of Standing in Section 220 Action

In Gordon v. Verizon Communications, Inc., No. 653084/13, 2017 WL 442871 (N.Y. App. Div. Feb. 2, 2017), the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, First Judicial Department (the “First Department”), reversed an order denying plaintiffs’ motion for final approval of a proposed non-monetary settlement in a shareholder class action litigation related to Verizon Communication Inc.’s (“Verizon”) acquisition of Vodafone Group PLC’s (“Vodafone”) stake in Verizon Wireless (“VZW”).  With its decision, the New York Appellate Division breathed new life into beleaguered disclosure-only class action settlements, and modernized what it believed had become an outdated analytical framework for approving class action settlement agreements.  It also appeared to accord special weight to provisions in such agreements whereby corporations promise to obtain fairness opinions in connection with future transactions in determining the overall fairness of the agreements.  Thus, while non-monetary class action settlements are increasingly disfavored in other courts — most notably, in the Delaware Court of Chancery — New York courts remain receptive to their utility.
Continue Reading New York Appellate Division Revives Non-Monetary Class Action Settlement in M&A Class Action with Revised Standard of Review

In Nguyen v. Barrett, C.A. No. 11511-VCG, 2016 WL 5404095 (Del. Ch. Sept. 28, 2016) (Glasscock, V.C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed an amended complaint seeking damages for alleged disclosure violations in connection with a tender offer that had already closed.  The Chancery Court’s opinion demonstrates the challenges plaintiffs face when they pursue non-exculpated disclosure claims for damages post-closing.  It also shows that these challenges increase when the disclosure claims were previously pled but not pursued at the preliminary injunction stage — a time when the Chancery Court is still in a position to ensure stockholders are provided sufficient information to cast an informed vote.  The Court confirmed that the preferred practice is for plaintiffs to pursue disclosure claims at that earlier stage.
Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Dismisses Post-Closing Disclosure Claims for Damages, Cautioning That Such Claims Are Best Pursued Pre-Closing