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CALIFORNIA CORPORATE & SECURITIES LAW

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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The Most Important Principles of Delaware Corporate Law Can’t Be Found In the DGCL

I have often observed that you can read every section of the Delaware General Corporation Law and learn almost nothing about Delaware corporate law.  Here are three of the most fundamental principles of Delaware corporate law that you won’t find in the DGCL: The business judgment rule.  This venerable presumption is derived from, but not stated…

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Failure To Follow Up Demand Dooms Derivative Suit

Shareholders wanting to pursue a derivative suit all come to the same fork in the road.  One fork is to make a demand.  The other is to file a lawsuit and allege that demand would have been futile.  Most plaintiffs choose the latter because the act of making the demand terminates their ability to pursue…

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Professor Bainbridge Takes On S.B. 75 And The Delaware Bar

UCLA Law Professor Stephen Bainbridge recently posted an article calling Delaware’s recently enacted S.B. 75 a “self-inflicted wound”.   SB 75, which was signed into law late last month, limits the ability of Delaware stock corporations to adopt so-called “fee shifting” bylaw provisions. What I find particularly interesting is Professor Bainbridge’s thesis that the Delaware legislature…

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No Pay Bylaws Fall Short Of Ending Forced Subsidization

In this post published yesterday on The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Delaware lawyer A. Thompson Bayliss and Mark Mixon write that no pay provisions “could transform stockholder litigation without the effects that make ‘loser pays’ provisions unpalatable to many”.  According to the authors, a no pay provision requires that each side pay…

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Doing The Math On Delaware Derivative Settlements

Last Friday, Delaware lawyer Francis G.X. Pileggi wrote about Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster’s recent decision to award more than $72 million in attorneys fees in costs in connection with the settlement of a derivative action challenging the divestiture Vivendi S.A.’s controlling equity position in Activision Blizzard, Inc.  In Re Activision Blizzard, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, Cons. C.A. No.…

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Here’s One Way To Recover Attorneys’ Fees Without Adopting A Fee Shifting Bylaw

With the ongoing hullabaloo concerning the legislative demise of fee shifting bylaw provisions under Delaware law, little attention has been paid to California law.  More importantly, no one seems to have noticed that California law already provides a mechanism for the collection of attorneys’ fees and other costs by the prevailing corporation or defendant in a derivative suit…

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It’s Time To Put A Stop To Fee-Shifting (But Not In the Way You Might Think)

The problem with “fee-shifting bylaws” starts with the name.  A better name might be “anti fee-shifting bylaws” because they end the fee shifting that otherwise applies.  Without fee-shifting bylaws, plaintiffs’ attorneys are encouraged to bet with the stockholders’ money.  This is, of course, unfair to the stockholders.  Society also suffers because the current fee-shifting regime…

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9th Circuit Upholds Issue Preclusion In Subsequent Derivative Suit

Derivative suits rarely arrive alone.  When something goes awry, directors and officers can be expected to see multiple suits based on demand futility as well as wrongful demand refusal.  Often, suits will be filed at different times and in different fora.  It is important to remember, however, that the “real” plaintiff in these suits is…

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