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Corporation & Enterprise Law Case Summaries

[07/24] Kass v. City of New York
Reversing the district court's denial of the defendant police officer's motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissing the remainder of the appeal in a case alleging false arrest and imprisonment because there was evidence the officers had probable cause for the arrest and they are entitled to qualified immunity under New York law.

[06/29] DuQuesne Light Holdings, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Affirming the Tax Court's application of the Ilfield doctrine in holding that the double deduction for losses incurred by the subsidiary of a company was improper and disallowing $199 million of those losses.

[06/13] Norman v. Elkin
In a communications company's partnership dispute, arising out of the transfer of partnership assets without compensation, the district court's judgment is: 1) affirmed on alternative grounds the decision to enter summary judgment in defendant's favor on the claim of fraud; and 2) vacated as to judgment in defendant's favor on plaintiff's remaining claims where the District Court erred in concluding that tolling of the statute of limitations is categorically inappropriate when a plaintiff has inquiry notice before initiating a books and records action in the Delaware courts.

[06/07] Seaview Trading, LLC v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
In a petition challenging a notice of Final Partnership Administrative Adjustment, the Tax Court?s dismissal, for lack of jurisdiction, is affirmed where: 1) because plaintiff contended that his business entity was a small partnership not subject to the audit procedures under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), entities that are disregarded for federal tax purposes may nevertheless constitute pass-thru partners under 26 U.S.C. section 6231(a)(9), such that the small-partnership exception under section 6231 does not apply and the partnership is therefore subject to the TEFRA audit procedures; 2) resolution of this question iss inextricably intertwined with the contention that plaintiff had standing to file a petition for readjustment of partnership items on behalf of his purported small partnership; and 3) as to standing, because a party other than plaintiff's entity's tax matters partner filed a petition for readjustment of partnership items after the partnership had timely done the same, the Tax Court lacked jurisdiction under 26 U.S.C. section 6226.

[04/25] F5 Capital v. Pappas
In a a shareholder derivative action on behalf of a company, alleging that individual members of the company's board and affiliated entities improperly exploited their control of the corporation in entering into three separate self-dealing transactions, the district court's dismissal of the complaint, concluding that the dilution claim was properly derivative under Delaware law and that plaintiff failed to plead demand futility under Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 23.1(b)(3)(B), as to any of the claims, is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff's dilution claim was properly derivative, not direct; 2) the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the non-class, derivative claims; and 3) plaintiff did not allege facts sufficient to excuse it from making a pre-suit demand.

[04/12] Applied Medical Corporation v. Thomas
In a corporate governance action, arising from plaintiff corporation's suit over the exercise of its right to repurchase shares of its stock, given to defendant under a stock incentive plan for outside directors on its board, the trial court's grant of summary judgment to defendant is: 1) reversed because plaintiff's conversion claim could be based on either ownership or the right to possession at the time of conversion; and 2) affirmed because plaintiff's fraud claims were not timely under either the discovery rule or relation back doctrine, and thus barred by the statute of limitations.

[04/06] Stein v. AXIS Ins. Co.
In an action against two insurance companies, brought by a plaintiff-insured who was denied coverage under a D&O policy because he was convicted of securities fraud, the trial court's judgment sustaining defendants' demurrer and dismissing the complaint is: 1) affirmed in part where the AXIS demurrer was properly sustained because AXIS was a stranger to the HCC policy and owed no duties connected with it; but 2) reversed in part where the HCC demurrer was improperly sustained because when a policy expressly provides coverage for litigation expenses on appeal, an exclusion requiring repayment to the insurer upon a 'final determination' of the insured's culpability applies only after the insured's direct appeals have been exhausted.

[03/28] Charney v. Standard General
In a suit brought by the former CEO of American Apparel whose employment was terminated following an investigation into allegations that he engaged in various types of misconduct, alleging several causes of action rooted in plaintiff's claim that the press release announcing his termination contained false and defamatory information about him, the trial court's grant of defendant's order granting an anti-SLAPP motion, Code Civ. Proc. section 425.16, is affirmed where plainitiff did not satisfy his burden of showing there was a minimal chance his claims would succeed at trial.

[03/24] Tract No. 7260 Assn. v. Parker
In an action brought by a member of a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation to inspect the corporation's membership list, and other books and records, the trial court's denial of the plaintiff's petition for writ of mandate to compel inspection, on grounds that the member sought the inspection for an improper purpose, unrelated to his interest as a member of the corporation, and findings that the corporation did not timely challenge the request for the membership list as required by statute, and therefore ordered the list disclosed, is affirmed in part and reversed in part where: 1) substantial evidence supports the trial court?s finding that the member sought the information for an improper purpose; and 2) the corporation's challenge to disclosing the membership list was not barred by statute.

[03/20] Sheley v. Harrop
In a dispute involving the control of a pest control company started by decedent, asserting causes of action to recover damages for conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty based on actions taken by defendant (decedent's wife) in cooperation with the decedent, the trial court granted of defendant's anti-SLAPP motion as to plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is: 1) modified by granting defendants' motion to strike the specific claims founded on allegations of protected activity in each remaining cause of action in the cross-complaint; and 2) otherwise affirmed as modified.

[02/16] People v. Black
In the People's appeal pursuant to Penal Code section 1238(a)(1), challenging the trial court's order to set aside certain counts of charges against defendant for using false statements in the offer or sale of a security, Corp. Code sections 25401, 25540(b), after defendant persuaded an acquaintance to invest in a real estate development opportunity in Idaho in return for a promissory note, the terms of which were amended and extended several times but never realized, the trial court's order is affirmed where the promissory notes offered for the investment in the real estate development scheme were not securities within the meaning of the Corporate Securities Law.

[02/02] Western Surety Co. v. La Cumbre Office
In an action for breach of an indemnity agreement, the trial court's grant of summary judgment requiring defendant to pay plaintiff approximately $6.07 million pursuant to the indemnity agreement is affirmed where although the signatory did not have actual authority to execute the indemnity agreement on defendant's behalf, in these circumstances, the person's signature binds defendant pursuant to former Corporations Code section 17157(d) (now section 17703.01(d)), provided that the other party to the agreement does not have actual knowledge of the person's lack of authority to execute the agreement on behalf of defendant.

[01/18] Trikona Advisers Limited v. Chugh
In a complaint alleging breach of fiduciary duty by defendant, a former partner and fifty percent owner of plaintiff corporation, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants is affirmed over plaintiff's meritless arguments that: 1) the district court incorrectly applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel; and 2) Chapter 15 of the United States Bankruptcy Code prevents the district court from giving preclusive effect to the Cayman court's factual findings.

[01/18] Trikona Advisers Limited v. Chugh
In a complaint alleging breach of fiduciary duty by defendant, a former partner and fifty percent owner of plaintiff corporation, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants is affirmed over plaintiff's meritless arguments that: 1) the district court incorrectly applied the doctrine of collateral estoppel; and 2) Chapter 15 of the United States Bankruptcy Code prevents the district court from giving preclusive effect to the Cayman court's factual findings.

[01/12] Swart Enterprises v. Franchise Tax Bd.
In a case dealing with the issue of whether California's franchise tax applies to an out-of-state corporation whose sole connection with California is a 0.2 percent ownership interest in a manager-managed California limited liability company (LLC) investment fund, the trial court's judgment is affirmed where passively holding a 0.2 percent ownership interest, with no right of control over the business affairs of the LLC, does not constitute 'doing business' in California within the meaning of Rev. & Tax. Code section 23101.

[11/28] Bradley v. ARIAD Pharms., Inc.
In an investor suit against the company and four corporate officers, following a drop in the share price of the company, alleging securities fraud in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act), 15 U.S.C. sections 78j(b) and 78t(a), as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. section 240.10b-5, the district court's judgment is: 1) affirmed as to the dismissal of the securities fraud counts, except with respect to one particular alleged misstatement for which we find the allegations set forth in the complaint sufficient to state a claim; and 2) affirmed as to the disposition of the plaintiffs' claims under Sections 11 and 15, albeit on different grounds than those articulated by the district court.

[11/22] Goles v. Sawhney
In an appeal from an order specifying the buyout value of plaintiffs' 36.7% minority shareholder interest in Katana Software, Inc. pursuant to Corporations Code section 2000(c), is reversed where: 1) the order is an alternative decree which is appealable pursuant to section 2000(c), under Cotton v. Expo Power Systems, Inc. (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 1371, 1380; and 2) the trial court undervalued their shares when it 'confirmed' three disparate court-ordered appraisals and averaged the appraisals to determine the fair value of the company.

[11/15] US ex rel. Bunk v. Government Logistics N.V.
In a complex matter which began more than fifteen years ago as a bid-rigging scheme conjured up by shipping businesses to defraud the United States, the District Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant is vacated where the court erred by: 1) deciding that the successor corporation liability claims against defendant should be dismissed because they had been inadequately pleaded; and 2) ruling that there was insufficient evidence to justify a trial.

[11/03] ZF Micro Devices v. TAT Capital Partners
In the third chapter of Silicon Valley litigation spanning more than 14 years involving a microchip company and its successor, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, the judgment entered on plaintiff's cross-complaint against defendant is reversed where the court erred in submitting defendant's statute of limitations defense to the jury, as the cross-complaint was timely filed.

[10/25] Wolf Metals Inc. v. Rand Pacific Sales Inc.
In a judgment enforcement action, arising out of a default judgment for plaintiff in a contracts dispute over defendant's failure to pay for sheet metal, the trial court's entry of amended default judgment is reversed in part and affirmed in part where: 1) Donald Koh was improperly added as a judgment debtor on an alter ego theory under Motores de Mexicali v. Superior Court, 51 Cal.2d 172 (1958); but 2) South Gate Steel was properly added as a judgment debtor on a corporate successor theory.

[10/14] Nat'l Inst. of Famil and Life Advocates v. Harris
In a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by three religiously-affiliated non-profit corporations to prevent the enforcement of the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act, the district court's denial of the motion is affirmed where: 1) plaintiff's are not entitled to a preliminary injunction based on their free exercise claims; 2) the Act is a neutral lawof general applicability, which survived rational basis review; and 3) plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment claims.

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