Fiduciary Duty

News & Analysis as of

Fiduciary Liability Insurance is Worth It

The warranty in the electronics business is gravy for the retailers who sell it. You’ll be surprised how many people pay $20 to get a warranty on a $100 Blu-Ray player. When Best Buy was going national, they advertised how...more

Inside the Courts: An Update From Skadden Securities Litigators - November 2015 / Volume 7 / Issue 4

We are pleased to present Inside the Courts (Volume 7, Issue 4), Skadden’s securities litigation newsletter. This quarter’s issue includes summaries and associated court opinions of selected cases principally decided between...more

“Socially Responsible” Investing Under ERISA: New DOL Guidance

Fiduciary concerns may have prevented plan committees from considering “economically targeted investments” (ETI) – such as investments that observe environmental, social or governance responsibility (ESG) standards – as...more

Common Law Business Partnership – Can You Have a Partner Despite a Contrary Agreement?

Believing that a non-binding term sheet and earlier written agreements precluded any unwritten partnership, Original Oil Production Services (OOPS) cut out its colleague Petroleum United Transfer Zenith (PUTZ) and secretly...more

Federal Court Determines that Employer Use of Employee Health Insurance Premium Payments Breach of ERISA Fiduciary Duties

On November 9, 2015, Minnesota Federal District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled that the president and CEO of Faribault Woolen Mills Company breached his fiduciary duties under ERISA by diverting Employee health insurance...more

Quadrant Structured Prods. Co. v. Vertin, C.A. No. 6990-VCL (Del. Ch. Oct. 20, 2015) (Laster, V.C.)

In this post-trial decision, the Court of Chancery held that a company’s repurchase of senior notes from an insider approximately six months after returning to solvency did not violate the express or implied terms of the...more

Exculpatory Clauses In Trust Documents Are “Somewhat” Enforceable In Texas

It is common for settlors to execute trust documents that contain exculpatory clauses. An exculpatory clause is one that forgives the trustee for some action or inaction. For example, a common exculpatory clause may state...more

Court Affirmed Finding Of No Fiduciary Duty Because No Joint Venture Existed

In Stutz Rd. Ltd. P’ship v. Weekley Homes, L.P., plaintiffs sued a defendant for breach of fiduciary duty based on duties owed pursuant to an alleged joint venture. No. 05-12-01752-CV, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 11440 (Tex....more

Chancery Rejects Facebook Stockholder Ratification Argument

In Espinoza v. Zuckerberg, a stockholder challenged the Facebook board of directors' unanimous approval of a compensation plan for the company's six non-employee directors. The board consisted of eight directors, with only...more

Department of Labor Clarifies ERISA Fiduciary Requirements With Respect to Economically Targeted Investments and Environmental,...

Last month, the Department of Labor (the “Department”) issued an Interpretive Bulletin 2015-011 (the “Bulletin”) clarifying the extent to which the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) permits fiduciaries...more

2009 Caiola Family Trust v. PWA, LLC, C.A. No. 8028-VCP (Del. Ch. Oct. 14, 2015) (Parsons, V.C.)

In this 91-page post-trial opinion addressing a dispute between members of a Delaware limited liability company formed to own and operate a residential apartment complex in Kansas, the Court of Chancery held that the...more

Communication is everything

I get along with people for the most part because I make the effort. It’s also a lot easier to function in the retirement plan business when you have more friends than enemies. Unfortunately, there has been a number of...more

Joining Forces: The Co-investment Climate in Private Equity

Pepper Hamilton commissioned Mergermarket to interview 50 PE executives from across the United States that have co-invested with an institutional investor within the previous three years (fund sizes managed by the...more

Can Contract Ambiguity Cause Liability for Unfair Trade Practices?

Most of the time, a contract breach—even if intentional—does not violate N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1. A contract breach, however, can turn into a 75-1.1 violation if the breach is accompanied by “substantial aggravating...more

Espinoza v. Zuckerberg, No. 9745-CB (Del. Ch. Oct. 28, 2015) (Bouchard, C.)

In a decision reinforcing the importance of observing corporate formalities, Chancellor Bouchard found that a controlling stockholder cannot ratify a board’s self-dealing with something as informal as an affidavit, a...more

Caspian Select Credit Master Fund Ltd. v. Gohl, C.A. No. 10244-VCN (Del. Ch. Sept. 28, 2015) (Noble, V.C.)

In this memorandum opinion, the Court of Chancery granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss direct and derivative claims against the company’s board and controlling stockholders for breaches of fiduciary duty...more

ELL SCOTUS Series # 4 – Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan

In the fourth installment of articles looking at the employment law cases being heard by the US Supreme Court this fall term, Montanile addresses issues near and dear to every employer’s heart – ERISA plans and the...more

DOL Issues New Guidance on Economically Targeted Investments

The guidance clarifies that environmental, social, and governance factors may be relevant to a plan fiduciary’s evaluation of an investment’s economic merits. The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently published an...more

I’m Guessing That The DOL Didn’t Have in Mind Negative Weighing OF ESG Factors

In this post, I noted a recent study by Professor Tracie Woidtke at the University of Tennessee concluding that social-issue shareholder-proposal activism appears to be negatively related to firm value. I therefore raised...more

Court Of Chancery Explains Jurisdiction For Veil-Piercing

This is an interesting decision for its discussion on what must be pled to obtain Chancery jurisdiction in a claim seeking to pierce the corporate veil. It is not enough to just allege the entity was used to defraud. Rather,...more

Court of Chancery Applies Business Judgment Standard Under New Supreme Court Precedent

This is an important decision that reverses a prior opinion in the same case. The Court did so because after it issued its prior opinion, the Delaware Supreme Court issued its Corwin decision holding that when a merger is...more

A Compilation of Enforcement and Non-Enforcement Actions

Non-Enforcement - SEC Decides Against Mounting an Appeal in Koch Ruling - The July 2015 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court in Koch v. SEC will apparently not be challenged by the SEC. The Court ruled in that...more

Pension Plan Investments: ERISA Fiduciaries May Consider Environmental, Social, and Governance Factors Related to Economic Value

Over the past two decades, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a number of advisory opinions and interpretive bulletins on “economically targeted investments” (ETIs). These investments are generally defined as...more

CFPB Releases Tips Urging States to Adapt Guides Designed for Financial Caregivers

On October 19, the CFPB released tips on how state bar associations and other legal organizations and professionals in all states can adapt the CFPB’s Managing Someone Else’s Money guides, which were released nationwide in...more

ERISA: Shutting Down Equitable Relief Claims — Disgorgement Claim Dismissed On Rule 12(c) Motion

You already know that in March 2015, the 6th Circuit issued an en banc decision rejecting disgorgement of profits claims. Rochow v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 780 F.3d 364, 372 (6th Cir. 2015)(en banc) (rejecting $3.8 million...more

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