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In Murray v. UBS Securities, LLC, 601 U. S. ____, 2024 WL 478566 (2024), the United States Supreme Court (Sotomayor, J.) held that whistleblowers do not need to prove their employer acted with “retaliatory intent” to be protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Instead, all whistleblower plaintiffs need to prove is that their protected activity was a “contributing factor” in the employer’s unfavorable personnel action. The decision establishes a lower burden of proof for whistleblowers alleging retaliation and, conversely, reaffirms a greater burden on employers who must demonstrate the absence of retaliation under the heightened “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard in order
Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Endorses Low Burden of Proof for Whistleblowers

In Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P. v. Ainslie, No. 162, 2023, 2024 WL 315193 (Del. Jan. 29, 2024), the Delaware Supreme Court held enforceable a “forfeiture for competition” provision in a limited partnership agreement, upholding “the freedom of contract” and enforcing “as a matter of fundamental public policy the voluntary agreements of sophisticated parties.” Given Delaware’s recent shift from its typically non-compete friendly stance, the Delaware Supreme Court’s ruling is beneficial for employers.
Continue Reading Delaware Supreme Court Enforces Forfeiture for Competition Provision in Partnership Agreement

The United States Department of the Treasury has announced that it is working to address what it perceives as money laundering risks associated with investment advisers. Specifically, the agency asserts that absent consistent and comprehensive anti-money laundering (“AML”) and countering the financing of terrorism (“CFT”) obligations, corrupt officials and other illicit actors may invest ill-gotten gains in the U.S. financial system through hedge funds and private equity firms. Treasury indicated its intention to issue a proposal in the first quarter of 2024 that would apply Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) AML/CFT requirements, including suspicious activity report obligations, to certain investment advisers.
Continue Reading Treasury Announces Renewed Push for Investment Adviser AML Rules

In Segway Inc. v. Hong Cai, 2023 Del. Ch. LEXIS 643 (Del. Ch. Dec. 14, 2023), the Delaware Court of Chancery (Will, V.C.) dismissed a claim for breach of fiduciary duty brought by Segway Inc. (the “Company”) against its former President and Vice President of Finance (the “Officer”). The Company framed its claim as a claim for breach of the duty of oversight, commonly known as a Caremark claim (from the landmark case In re Caremark Int’l Inc. Derivative Litigation, 698 A.2d 959 (Del. Ch. 1996)). 
Continue Reading The Delaware Court of Chancery Confirms that Duty of Oversight Claims Against Corporate Officers Are Subject to the Same High Pleading Standards Applicable to Duty of Oversight Claims Against Corporate Directors

In Briskin v. Shopify, Inc., No. 22-15815, 2023 WL 8225346 (9th Cir. Nov. 28, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Canada-based company Shopify, Inc. (“Shopify”), which provides a web-based payment processing platform to online merchants across the United States (and the world), is not subject to specific personal jurisdiction in California courts under California data privacy laws based solely upon Shopify’s collection, retention and use of customer data from California residents. In making this ruling, the Ninth Circuit became the first Circuit in the nation to address this type of personal jurisdiction
Continue Reading In a Case of First Impression, Ninth Circuit Addresses Personal Jurisdiction Issues Involving Non-Resident Corporation Providing a Web-Based Payment Processing Platform

In Roth v. Foris Ventures, LLC, Nos. 22-16632, 22-16633, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 30081 (9th Cir. Nov. 13, 2023), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit partially reversed the dismissal of a shareholder derivative suit seeking to recover disgorgement of short-swing profits under Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78p(b). The three-judge panel held that the district court erred in holding that the company’s board was required to approve the stock sale transactions for the specific purpose of exempting it from Section 16(b) liability pursuant to Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”)
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Provides Guidance on SEC Rule 16b-3 Short-Swing Profit Liability Exemption

Hospital mergers have been an increasing trend in the healthcare markets over the past decade, with many proponents of these mergers believing that the overall consolidation of hospital services provides better outcomes for patients at large, and opponents arguing that these mergers only result in increased costs to patients. Over the last couple of years, there has been a slight decrease in the number of hospital mergers, in part due to the whirlwind of changes in society and the economy (i.e., the public health epidemic, increased interest rates and an unstable M&A market), but in large part as a result of
Continue Reading Hospital Mergers: The Value and Pitfalls

On September 27, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced charges against six officers, directors, and major shareholders of public companies (“insiders”) for failing to timely report and file disclosures related to (i) their holdings in public company stock and (ii) transactions they undertook involving public company stock. Five public companies were also charged in connection with timely reporting failures by their insiders. Without admitting or denying the charges, the six insiders and five public companies agreed to cease and desist from violating the charged provisions and agreed to pay civil penalties ranging from $66,000 to $200,000.
Continue Reading SEC Announces Charges Against Insiders for Reporting Failures and Adopts Amendments to Schedule 13D and 13G Report Filing Timelines

Mergers and acquisitions activity is significantly influenced by economic conditions. Factors such as gross domestic product growth, interest rates and market volatility create an undeniable influence on deal volume. When economic circumstances are favorable, it can seem easy to close transactions. Conversely, when the economy faces headwinds, buyers are more cautious and often kick more tires before initiating closing wires.
Continue Reading Pillars of Due Diligence

If you had invested in a North American sports franchise between 1991- 2022, you would have earned at least a seven-fold return on your investment, bettering the return from the S&P 500 over that period of time by a two-to-one ratio. According to Sportico, in the past year alone, the average value of an NFL franchise has increased by 24 percent. The strong growth in the value of these franchises has proven to be particularly attractive to investors, especially in recent years. For example, the sale of the Denver Broncos in 2022 was for a 22% premium over a third
Continue Reading How High Can It Go? What Private Equity Needs to Know about How Professional Sports Leagues’ Rules Impact Sports Franchise Valuations

Acquisition agreements in M&A transactions frequently include provision for payment to be made at closing based on estimates of certain financial metrics that are later subject to a purchase price adjustment based on a final determination (referred to as a “true-up”) within a few months following closing. These metrics may include a target’s cash, debt, unpaid transaction expenses and working capital (excluding cash), and sometimes others. The definitions that correspond to these items, and what particular items are included or excluded from each, are often the product of significant negotiation, as the final purchase price can move materially up or
Continue Reading Expert or Arbitrator? Resolving Purchase Price Adjustment Disputes

On August 9, 2023, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) ordering the issuance of outbound investment restrictions. This E.O. comes after nearly a year of anticipation (as we have documented on several occasions over the past year). This is the start of the reverse Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process that has been mostly speculation (and blog articles) until yesterday. In conjunction, the Treasury Department issued a press release, fact sheet, and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking comments from the public on the proposed restrictions by September 28.
Continue Reading New Outbound Investment Restrictions Affect China, Semiconductors, Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Computing

On August 1, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) released a new Form I-9. An I-9 form is used to verify work authorization for new hires and a limited number of existing employees. The previous I-9 was issued in 2019 and expires on October 31, 2023. 
Continue Reading DHS Releases New Form I-9 and Video Verification Procedure: Guidance and Checklists for Busy Employers

On May 25, 2023, the Texas Legislature enacted the biggest structural change to the Texas court system in recent memory. House Bill 19 (“HB 19”)—signed by Governor Greg Abbott in June—creates a new “Business Court” system for the Lone Star State. HB 19’s passage comes after four previous legislative efforts to enact a business court system in Texas failed. Texas’s Business Courts will activate on September 1, 2024, and will handle complex commercial disputes with significant amounts in controversy. The purpose is to create an efficient, specialized court for complex, high-value commercial disputes needing timely resolutions—matters that could otherwise
Continue Reading Texas Revolution: State Legislature Creates New Business Court System to Handle Significant Commercial Disputes

In Anderson v. Magellan Health, Inc., No. 2021-0202, — A.3d —-, 2023 WL 4364524 (Del. Ch. July 6, 2023) (McCormick, C.), the Delaware Court of Chancery addressed the circumstances under which the Court will award a shareholder plaintiff attorneys’ fees in disclosure-based deal litigation. In particular, Anderson analyzed the history of disclosure-based deal litigation in Delaware and the Court’s evolving standard for awarding fees where shareholder action has caused a company to issue additional pre-merger disclosures “mooting” pending deal litigation. Prior to the decision in Anderson, the state of the law was unsettled. The first line of cases would award fees
Continue Reading Delaware Court of Chancery Clarifies Heightened Standard for Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees in Disclosure-Based Deal Litigation

The term “Acqui-hire” is commonly used to describe an M&A transaction where the buyer is predominantly interested in acquiring key employees of the target and not specifically the underlying business and/or assets. This type of transaction is particularly common in the technology and software industries, where key talent can often be more valuable than the underlying product or service, although it has become more prevalent in other industries as well. For the target employees and founders, such an acquisition may represent a “soft landing” in the event that they find that their organization won’t scale in the way that was previously
Continue Reading What You Need to Know about Acqui-Hires