Showing 7 posts in Caremark.
Court of Chancery Finds That Complaint Fails To Adequately Plead Caremark Claim In Context Of SolarWinds Cybersecurity Breach
Construction Industry Laborers Pension Fund v. Bingle, C.A. No. 2021-0940-SG (Del. Ch. Sept. 6, 2022)
Under the Delaware Supreme Court’s Caremark decision and its progeny – including its most recent articulation in Marchand v. Barnhill – corporate directors who in bad faith fail to impose systems for monitoring important risks or fail to act in response to known “red flags” conceivably face monetary liability for breaching the fiduciary duty of loyalty. This decision discusses that, where Caremark claims have survived a motion to dismiss under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, the alleged breaches generally have been in the context of violations of positive law or regulations. More ›
Chancery Dismisses Caremark Claim Against Energy Company Alleging Failure of Board Oversight Related to Fatal Pipeline Explosion
City of Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System v. Hamrock, C.A. No. 2021-0370-KSJM (Del. Ch. June 30, 2022)
Stockholder plaintiff filed a derivative suit on behalf of an energy company alleging that certain of the company’s former and current directors were liable for oversight failures leading to the fatal explosion of an over-pressurized gas pipeline. When the defendants moved to dismiss for failure to make a demand on the board, the plaintiff argued that demand was excused because a majority of the demand board faced a substantial likelihood of liability for oversight failures based on the following three theories of Caremark liability: (1) the board’s utter failure to implement a pipeline safety monitoring or reporting system; (2) the board’s failure to acknowledge “red flags” that put it on notice of the company’s numerous violations of pipeline safety laws; and (3) the board’s knowing encouragement of legal violations in the pursuit of corporate profit. The Court rejected all three of the plaintiff’s theories of Caremark liability and dismissed the action for failure to make a demand. The Court reasoned as follows: (1) according to the plaintiff’s own allegations, the company had set up a pipeline safety monitoring and reporting system which included a committee specifically tasked with pipeline safety that was active, therefore the plaintiff had not adequately pled “utter failure” to set up such a system; (2) any causal connection between the “red flags” identified by the plaintiff and the explosion were too tenuous to put the board on notice of the corporate trauma that occurred; and (3) plaintiff had not adequately pled that the board was “in the business” of encouraging violation of the law for profit because, according to plaintiff’s own allegations, the company actually discouraged legal violations through the formation of several committees tasked with regulatory compliance.
Previously published on Business Law Today
Fire Ret. Sys. of St. Louis v. Sorenson, et al., 2021 WL 4593777 (Del. Ch. Oct. 5, 2021).
The Delaware Court of Chancery dismissed pursuant to Rule 23.1 derivative claims arising from the hack of roughly 500 million users’ personal data following Marriott’s 2016 acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts – one of the largest hacks ever, an event that spawned lawsuits and governmental investigations. Among other things, the stockholder-plaintiff failed to allege with particularity facts showing that a majority of the board of directors consciously disregarded “red flags” showing alleged non-compliance data privacy norms. While “[w]ith hindsight knowledge of the extent of the data breach,” the board’s remediation plan was implemented “probably too slow.” Id. at *16. But, the court reasoned, “the difference between a flawed effort and a deliberate failure to act is one of extent and intent. A Caremark violation requires the plaintiff to demonstrate the latter.” Id. at *19. Accordingly, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint.
Fisher v. Sanborn, C.A. No. 2019-0631-AGB (Del. Ch. Mar. 30, 2021)
Under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, a plaintiff attempting to bring a derivative action on behalf of a corporation faces a heightened “particularized” pleading standard. This pleading challenge is compounded when a plaintiff attempts to bring a Caremark failure of oversight claim – “possibly the most difficult theory in corporate law.” Similarly, a plaintiff alleging false or misleading disclosures not made in connection with soliciting shareholder action faces the additional pleading challenge of demonstrating that those disclosures were knowing or deliberate. More ›
Plaintiff’s Failure to Plead Demand Futility Leads to Dismissal of Caremark Claims Against MoneyGram Directors
Richardson v. Clark, C.A. No. 2019-1015-SG (Del. Ch. Dec. 31, 2020)
Under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1, a derivative plaintiff’s must make a demand on the corporation’s board of directors unless the plaintiff can plead particular facts to establish that demand was excused. Although demand may be excused where a majority of the board faces a substantial likelihood of personal liability, merely alleging wrongdoing by the corporation’s directors will not suffice. More ›
In re Metlife Inc. Derivative Litigation, Consol. C.A. No. 2019-0452-SG (Del. Ch. Aug. 17, 2020)
Shareholders seeking relief for alleged harm to a Delaware corporation must comply with Delaware’s pre-suit demand requirement by either making a demand on the board of directors to take action respecting the potential claims, or initiating suit themselves and adequately pleading facts excusing pre-suit demand as futile. More ›
Delaware law sets a high bar to sufficiently plead a Caremark claim for failure of board oversight, especially when the plaintiff must satisfy the heightened pleading requirements for establishing demand futility under Court of Chancery Rule 23.1. To overcome those hurdles, a plaintiff must plead with particularity that the board of directors either (i) utterly failed to implement any reporting or information systems or controls to address the risk that ultimately manifested, or (ii) having implemented such safeguards, consciously failed to oversee their operation and thereby disabled themselves from being informed of the risk that ultimately manifested. For either Caremark prong, the plaintiff must sufficiently plead bad faith, essentially that the directors knew they were not discharging their fiduciary duties. More ›Share