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Court of Chancery Permits Option Backdating Case To Proceed

Conrad v. Blank, C.A. No. 2611-VCL (September 7, 2007).

In the latest of the Delaware option cases, the Court of Chancery permits the action to go forward when it appears that the Board considered the option backdating and did nothing about it. It is noteworthy from its decision that this apparent indifference to a wrong served to distinguish this case from others where the backdating appeared to be a simple mistake.  In the case of a simple mistake, the error would not be enough to expose the board to liability and that would excuse demand before the derivative suit was filed.

The Court also declined to apply the "continuing wrong" theory. Under that theory, a plaintiff who acquires her stock during the series of wrongful acts has the right to challenge all the actions including even those that occurred before she acquired her stock. Instead, here the court held that each backdated option was a separate wrong and the plaintiff could only sue for those that had occurred  after she bought her stock.

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