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Court of Chancery Rejects Options Suit

Posted In Fiduciary Duty

Desimone v. Barrows, et. al., C.A. No. 2210-VCS (June 7, 2007).

Since the Tyson decision, some have predicted that the Court of Chancery will be hard on option granting abuses. That has proved to be so, but not always. Here the Court discussed a suit that alleged improper option granting because the plaintiff really could not plead a case that the board of directors was knowingly breaking the rules.

Many of the options involved were granted to lower level employees when the board itself was not directly involved. In that case, the plaintiff could not show that the members of the board had enough culpability to fear personal liability. Under those circumstances, the plaintiff could not meet the rules for showing a demand on the board to bring suit would be fatal.

In the case of other options, while they may have been granted at favorable times before good news caused the market to rise or after bad news caused it to fall, the options were part of a prearranged plan with set grant dates. Hence, timing of the grants was not at issue. Again, under these circumstances board liability was too remote to excuse demand under Rule 22.1.



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