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CALIFORNIA CORPORATE & SECURITIES LAW

Complaint To Administrative Agency Does Not Support Abuse of Process Claim But May Be A Nuisance

Bonnie Springs Ranch sits below towering and very picturesque Aztec Sandstone cliffs a few miles outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.  After terminating a contract to sell some adjacent land, Bonnie Springs alleged that that buyer abused process by filing a citizen’s complaint with the county commissioner for the ulterior purpose of coercion.  As a result of…

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Court Poised To Decide Whether Directors Are Agents

Not quite four years ago, I wrote about whether directors are agents.  The post was prompted by then Chancellor William B. Chandler III’s assertion: This is because the board’s power – which is that of an agent’s with regard to its principal – derives from the shareholders, who are the ultimate holders of power under…

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Could The SEC Ask Airlines To Produce Data On Delayed And Canceled Flights?

The following story is fiction.  It was imagined following the SEC’s recently settled action against KBR, Inc. Airlines were caught completely off guard yesterday by SEC letters asking that they produce five years of data on delayed and canceled flights to the nation’s capital. The SEC’s action was a continuation of the agency’s inquiry into…

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What, If Anything, Is The Attorney General’s Office Hiding?

In January, I decided to update an earlier post regarding the number of calls made to the California Attorney General’s hotline mandated by Labor Code Section 1102.7.  A few years earlier, I had published these data for the years from 2004 to 2010.  Much to my amazement, the Attorney General’s office declared the more recent…

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Is Anything Fishy With The SEC’s Whistleblower Inquiries?

Yesterday, Rachel Louise Ensign of The Wall Street Journal wrote that the SEC recently sent letters “to a number of companies asking for years of nondisclosure agreements, employment contracts and other documents”.  According to Ms. Ensign, the SEC is seeking information since the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act (i.e., 2010). Because the SEC sent letters and…

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SEC Seeks To “Overrule” Fifth Circuit Whistleblower Interpretation

In Asadi v. G.E. Energy United States, L.L.C., 720 F.3d 620 (5th Cir. 2013), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employee who reported a suspected Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation internally but not to the Securities and Exchange Commission did not qualify as a whistleblower under the whistleblower protection provisions of the…

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Can A Whistleblower Disclose What Has Already Been Reported?

In California, employees who blow the whistle are protected from retaliation by Labor Code § 1102.5(b) which provides: An employer, or any person acting on behalf of the employer, shall not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information, or because the employer believes that the employee disclosed or may disclose information, to a government or…

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Internal Affairs Doctrine May Not Control Alter Ego Liability

The internal affairs doctrine “is a conflict of laws principle which recognizes that only one State should have the authority to regulate a corporation’s internal affairs — matters peculiar to the relationships among or between the corporation and its current officers, directors, and shareholders — because otherwise a corporation could be faced with conflicting demands.”…

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Does An SEC Attorney Commit An Ethical Violation By Encouraging Whistleblowing Lawyers?

The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation included a comprehensive post by Lawrence A. West which tackles the question of whether attorneys can be award-seeking whistleblowers.  I want to approach the topic from the other direction.  May an SEC attorney actively solicit disclosure of client confidences from a member of the California State Bar? California…

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Accountant’s Defamatory Report To Audit Committee Held To Be Absolutely Privileged

Once upon a time, an independent accounting firm learned from a law enforcement source that its publicly traded client and two of its directors had committed illegal acts of a serious nature.  The accounting firm contacts the source who advises against further dissemination of the report.  Nonetheless, the accounting firm decides to report the matter…

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