1 For 3 Million Reverse Split Fraud Claim Survives Motion To Dismiss

by Allen Matkins

Nancy Wojtas at Cooley LLP alerted me to an interesting ruling case decided last week by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Gardner v. Major Auto. Cos., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118191 (E.D. N.Y. Aug. 21, 2012).

According to a complaint, Bruce Bendell was the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Financial Officer of Major Automotive Companies, Inc., a Nevada corporation with its principal place of business in New York (“Major Automotive”).  In December 2010, Major Automotive circulated a notice of special meeting of stockholders.  The purpose of the meeting was to vote on a 1-for-3,000,000 reverse stock split pursuant to which Mr. Bendell would become Major Automotive’s sole stockholder.

In considering the plaintiffs’ breach of fiduciary duty claim, Judge Frederic Block first ruled that Nevada law applied under New York’s choice of law rules.  He noted that the Nevada Supreme Court has not directly addressed a director’s fiduciary duty in a freeze-out merger case, but found that the situation was analogous to a cash-out merger. Quoting the Nevada Supreme Court’s Cohen v. Mirage Resorts, Inc., 117 Nev. 1 (2003), Judge Block found:

“A minority shareholder may assert a direct claim that a ‘merger was accomplished through the wrongful conduct of majority shareholders, directors, or officers of the corporation and attempt to hold those individuals liable for monetary damages under theories of breach of fiduciary duty or loyalty.’”

Reviewing the plaintiffs’ complaint, Judge Block ruled that the plaintiffs’ had alleged sufficient facts to state a claim, citing the alleged failure to establish a committee of disinterested directors, the failure to disclose that Mr. Bendell was either the sole or dominant member of the board of directors, and the failure to deliver current financial information that allegedly would have disclosed an improved financial situation.

Judge Block also found that the plaintiffs’ failure to exercise their rights under Nevada’s dissenters’ rights law did not bar them from suing.  NRS 92A.380(2) provides that “A stockholder who is entitled to dissent and obtain payment pursuant to NRS 92A.300 to 92A.500, inclusive, may not challenge the corporate action creating the entitlement unless the action is unlawful or fraudulent with respect to the stockholder or the domestic corporation.”  Judge Block, however, ruled (again citing Cohen) that fraud encompasses a wide variety of acts involving breach of fiduciary duty. 

As discussed in Chapter 9 of  my book, Bishop & Zucker on Nevada Corporations and Limited Liability Companies, Nevada, with certain exceptions, broadly immunizes directors and officers from liability for damages to the corporation, its stockholders and its creditors.  Pursuant to NRS 78.138(7), a director or officer will not be liable unless it is proven  that (i) the director’s or officer’s act or failure to act constituted a breach of his or her fiduciary duties as a director or officer; and (ii) the breach of those duties involved intentional misconduct, fraud or a knowing violation of law.

Private Fund Adviser Rule Clears Final Hurdle

As reported in this post, the Department of Corporations submitted its proposed amendments to Rule 260.204.9 to the Office of Administrative Law last month.  I’m told that the OAL has completed its review and the amended rule has been filed with the Secretary of State with a request of immediate effectiveness.  See Cal. Govt. Code § 11343.4.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Allen Matkins | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Allen Matkins

Allen Matkins on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.