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CALIFORNIA CORPORATE & SECURITIES LAW

How Does One Know When A Corporation Is Antagonistic?

When a shareholder files a derivative suit in state court, the defendants often will try to have the case removed to the federal district court. Federal courts, however, are courts of limited jurisdiction and not every plaintiff can make a “federal case” out of their complaint.  When federal court jurisdiction is based on diversity (28 U.S.C.…

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Court Rejects Challenge To Internal Affairs Doctrine

Marvell Technology Group, Ltd. is a publicly traded company that is incorporated in Bermuda.  Marvell’s U.S. operating subsidiary is based in California.  A year ago, an institutional stockholder filed a derivative suit against Marvell and several of its officers and directors.  The factual bases for the plaintiff’s suit were securities law violations but the plaintiff…

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Court Addresses “Fair Value” Determination In Statutory Buyout Proceeding

When when a shareholder sues for involuntary dissolution, the corporation, or the holders of 50% or more of the voting power of the corporation, may avoid the dissolution by purchasing for cash the plaintiff’s shares at their “fair value.”  Cal. Corp. Code § 2000.  The statute establishes several parameters for determining “fair value”.  Thus, “fair value” must…

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Shareholder Derivative Action Or Shareholder Derivative Suit?

A legal proceeding brought in a representative capacity is sometimes referred to as a “shareholder’s derivative action” and sometimes as a “shareholder’s derivative suit”.  Which is correct? It turns out that the General Corporation Law doesn’t use the term “derivative”.  Section 800 of the Corporations Code refers to an action “instituted or maintained in right…

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Agreement To Arbitrate “Any Disputes” Doesn’t Reach Derivative Claims

Corn v. Superior Court, 2016 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 6182 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 22, 2016) is a case about the meaning of one sentence in a settlement agreement consisting of just seven words – “The Parties agree to arbitrate any disputes”.  The precise question was whether these seven words barred the petitioner from instituting a derivative action.  The…

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10th Circuit Highlights Difference Between Delaware And Nevada Exculpatory Statutes

Because the power to manage a corporation’s affairs rests with the board of directors, it is normally up to the board to decide whether the corporation will pursue a claim.  A shareholder who believes that the corporation should sue must therefore make a demand on the board.  If the board decides against suing, then the…

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Court Finds Plaintiffs Are Not Privies

Yesterday’s post noted that the plaintiff in a derivative suit is bringing claims on behalf of the corporation.  Thus, when a derivative suit is dismissed, does that dismissal have any effect on other pending or subsequently filed derivative suits?  This is a topic that I first discussed a few years back in Delaware Court of Chancery “Overrules” Federal Court.  That post was critical of…

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Compromising and Settling of Derivative Suits In California

When a shareholder sues derivatively, the shareholder is seeking relief not for itself, but for the corporation.  Therefore, it should be expected that the shareholder is not free to compromise or dismiss the suit absent court oversight.  For example, Rule 23.1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides: A derivative action may be settled, voluntarily…

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Court of Appeal Says Same Counsel Can’t Represent Corporation And Individual Defendants in Derivative Suit

Derivative suits put the corporation in the odd position of simultaneously occupying the position of a defendant and plaintiff.  When the suit is initiated, the corporation is named as a nominal defendant.  If, however, the suit is allowed to proceed, then the corporation is the “real” plaintiff.   What does this mean for attorneys who seek…

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Why Is California’s Derivative Suit Statute Stuck In 1977?

California Corporations Code Section 800 governs derivative suits brought by both domestic and foreign corporations.  The statute provides a modicum of protection to defendants by establishing a procedure by which either the corporation or an individual defendant may move the court to require the plaintiff, as a condition to maintaining the action, to supply a…

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