On August 17, 2010, the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled in a case of first impression that under the New Jersey Business Corporation Act, N.J.S.A. 14A:5-28(4), shareholders are entitled to inspect not only minutes of shareholders meetings but also the minutes of meetings of the board of directors and of executive committees, provided the shareholders present sufficient credible evidence of a "proper purpose" for accessing the records. Cain v. Merck & Co., Dkt. No. A-2138-08T2, 2010 N.J. Super. LEXIS 170 (App. Div. Aug. 17, 2010). However, shareholders' examination must be limited to only those portions of the minutes that address their "proper purpose." Id. at *21-22. Shareholders are not permitted to examine minutes simply to explore "unsubstantiated allegations of general mismanagement." Id.
Plaintiffs, owners of eleven shares of common stock of defendant Schering-Plough Corporation ("Schering"), filed a shareholder-derivative complaint in federal court against Schering, its board of directors, and certain executive officers. The complaint alleged corporate mismanagement and wrongdoing in connection with the allegedly delayed disclosure of the results of a clinical trial known as the ENHANCE study.
Plaintiffs made a written demand to inspect certain books, minutes, and records of the company "germane to our interest as Shareholders to review the manner in which the Company is being managed," pursuant to N.J.S.A. 14A:5-29(4). Plaintiffs subsequently clarified their purpose in seeking the documents, alleging that Schering had engaged in wrongful conduct that harmed investors and others when it delayed "for twenty-one months the release of the results of the ENHANCE trial." Id. at *3-4.
Ultimately, plaintiffs commenced an action in New Jersey state court and obtained an order compelling Schering to provide "any non-privileged portions of the minutes of and any documents made part of the minute books for meetings of the Company's Board of Directors and Executive Committee." Id. at *4-5.
On appeal, Schering contended that N.J.S.A. 14A:5-28 did not apply to the minutes of a corporate board of directors or its executive committee, and even if it did, examinations should have been limited to documents relevant to the shareholders' proper purpose, which was regarding the ENHANCE trials. Id. at *5-6. Plaintiffs asserted that they were entitled to inspect Schering's books and records "to learn the depth and breadth of mismanagement" and that this was a "proper purpose." Id. at *17.
In a case of first impression, after reviewing the legislative history of the statute and based upon statutory construction principles, the Appellate Division broadly defined the meaning of the term "minutes" in N.J.S.A. 14A:5-28(4) to include not only shareholder meeting minutes but also board and executive committee meeting minutes. Id. at *16. However, the Appellate Division found the trial court's order overly broad. Id. at *17-23. After considering Delaware and older New Jersey case law, the Appellate Division reaffirmed "that unsupported allegations of mismanagement do not present a 'proper purpose' entitling a shareholder to examine corporate documents." Id. at * 21. A proper purpose does not include suspicion or curiosity. Id. at *18-19. "Any other rule would further a 'fishing expedition' with the attendant unnecessary costs and potential harm to the corporation." Id. at *21-22.
Christina Parlapiano and Adam Weiss authored an article, "NY Appellate Court Rules On Foreclosure De-Acceleration of Debt," published by Mortgage Daily.
Clifford Nichols wrote an article, "When Addressing Cybersecurity and Data Breach, Don't Forget eDiscovery," for New Jersey Law Journal. The article is about how companies should consider eDiscovery and litigation response issues when making policy or infrastructure changes to address cybersecurity and data breach risks.
Dan Wenner and Kenton Atta-Krah wrote an article, "A Cautionary Tale About 'Other Acts' And Insider Trading," for Law360. The article analyzes the significance of United States v. DeCinces, in which the Ninth Circuit addressed two interlocutory appeals from DeCinces' securities fraud and insider trading prosecution and reversed the district court's order granting a motion in limine to exclude evidence against DeCinces. The government's application of Rule 404(b) in this case could have serious implications for other defendants in insider trading prosecutions.
Jed Davis was quoted in an article, "5 Ways To Keep Cybersecurity Woes From Derailing A Deal," published in Law360.
Day Pitney Press Release
On January 5, Day Pitney hosted a speech by Robert L. Capers, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to the White Collar Crime Committee of the American Bar Association's Business Law Section (WCCC) at the firm's New York City office.
Dan Wenner was quoted in an article, "Lack Of Oversight Dogs DOJ Prosecution Deals, Report Says," in Law360. The article is about a new report that says the U.S. Department of Justice's reliance on deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) and nonprosecution agreements (NPAs) suffers from a harmful lack of judicial oversight. In the article, Wenner discusses the genesis of prosecutors' using DPAs and NPAs as a way to address conduct that they might be afraid to prosecute because of potential collateral consequences, like the failure of a major organization such as Arthur Andersen.
Stamford, Conn., August 24, 2015 - Day Pitney is pleased to announce that 68 attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2016 Best Lawyers in America. Best Lawyers ranks lawyers through peer-review surveys, and has been published annually since 1983.