Justia Professional Malpractice & Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Corporate Compliance
Goulding v. Weiss
Nutmeg LLC, formerly managed by Goulding, served as an investment advisor and sole general partner of more than a dozen investment funds, each a limited partnership under Illinois or Minnesota law. Goulding’s management of the Funds ended in 2009, when the SEC brought an enforcement action against him, Nutmeg, and others under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, alleging that Nutmeg misappropriated client assets and failed to maintain proper records. The district court found that the SEC made the showing necessary to warrant the issuance of a restraining order prohibiting Goulding from managing the Funds and granted the SEC’s unopposed motion to appoint attorney Weiss as receiver for Nutmeg. Unsatisfied with Weiss’s performance, Goulding and limited partners from certain funds managed by Nutmeg filed an individual and derivative action on behalf of the Funds, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and legal malpractice. The court dismissed the federal securities law claim, claims against Nutmeg, all legal malpractice claims against Weiss and her firm, and two breach of fiduciary duty claims. The Seventh Circuit Affirmed, holding that even when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, no reasonable jury could find that either Weiss or her firm willfully and deliberately violated any fiduciary duties. View "Goulding v. Weiss" on Justia Law
In Re: The Matter Of The Grand Jury
In 1973, Doe organized his medical practice as a “professional association,” a type of corporation doctors are permitted to form under New Jersey law. Since its creation, Doe has operated his practice through that entity. As of 2011, the entity employed six people. The government alleges that Doe entered into an illicit agreement with OTE, a blood laboratory, whereby it paid him monetary bribes for referring patients to it for blood testing. A grand jury subpoena was served on the entity’s custodian of records, directing it to turn over documents, including records of patients referred to OTE, lease and consulting agreements, checks received by it for reasons other than patient treatment, correspondence regarding its use of OTE, correspondence with specified individuals and entities, and basic corporate records. The district court denied Doe’s motion to quash. Doe persistently refused to let the entity comply; the court found it in civil contempt. Meanwhile, the entity fired its employees and hired independent contractors, tasked with “[m]aint[aining] accurate and complete medical records, kept in accordance with HIPAA and Patient Privacy standards,” and assisting with billing practices. The Third Circuit affirmed, agreeing that Supreme Court precedent indicated that corporations may not assert a Fifth Amendment privilege, and that the subpoena was not overbroad in violation of the Fourth Amendment. View "In Re: The Matter Of The Grand Jury" on Justia Law
Gefre v. Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP
Shareholders of a closely held corporation brought a derivative suit against a shareholder-director and the corporation's former attorneys for fiduciary fraud, fraudulent conveyance, legal malpractice, and civil conspiracy. After an evidentiary hearing, the superior court ruled all the claims were time-barred. Upon review of the matter, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's dismissal of most claims, but reversed its dismissal of two and remanded those claims for further proceedings. View "Gefre v. Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP" on Justia Law
Starr Int’l Co. v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Starr, AIG's former principal shareholder, filed suit against the FRBNY for breach of fiduciary duty in its rescue of AIG during the fall 2008 financial crisis. The district court dismissed Starr's claims and Starr appealed. The suit challenged the extraordinary measures taken by FRBNY to rescue AIG from bankruptcy at the height of the direst financial crisis in modern times. In light of the direct conflict these measures created between the private duties imposed by Delaware fiduciary duty law and the public duties imposed by FRBNY's governing statutes and regulations, the court held that, in this suit, state fiduciary duty law was preempted by federal common law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Starr Int'l Co. v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York" on Justia Law
Spring Street Partners v. Lam, et al.
Spring Street, seeking to recover against Bayou and its owner Douglas Lam on defaulted promissory notes, claimed that certain transfers that defendants made were fraudulent: (1) Bayou's transfer of "hard assets" to LT Seafood when LT Seafood took over Bayou's retail operations at the 415 East Hamilton location; (2) Douglas Lam's transfer of his 49% interest in LT Seafood to DKL & DTL; and (3) DKL & DTL's subsequent transfer of this 49% interest to Vinh Ngo. The court concluded that Spring Street could pierce DKL & DTL's corporate veil on the basis of fraud and impose individual liability on the LLC members. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's summary judgment in favor of Spring Street with regard to these claims. However, the court concluded that Ten Lam and Ngo have raised a genuine dispute of fact as to both which "hard assets" Bayou transferred to LT Seafood and the value of those assets on the date of the transfer. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment in regards to Spring Street's fraudulent transfer claim against Lam and Ngo for the amount of $150,000 and remanded for further proceedings. View "Spring Street Partners v. Lam, et al." on Justia Law
Bank of America, N.A. v. Knight
Bank of America lost approximately $34 million when the Knight companies went bankrupt. BOA sued, claiming that Knight’s directors and managers looted the firm and that its accountants failed to detect the embezzlement. The district court dismissed. The accountants invoked the protection of Illinois law, 225 ILCS 450/30.1, which provides that an accountant is liable only to its clients unless the accountant itself committed fraud (not alleged in this case) or “was aware that a primary intent of the client was for the professional services to benefit or influence the particular person bringing the action” The court found that BOA did not plausibly allege that the accountants knew that Knight’s “primary intent” was to benefit the Bank in alleging that the accountants knew that Knight would furnish copies of the financial statements to lenders. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting BOA’s choice not to pursue its claims in the bankruptcy process. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Knight" on Justia Law
Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd.
Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his complaint against the Guthrie Defendants. Plaintiff's principal issue on appeal required the court to consider whether the unauthorized disclosure of confidential medical information by a medical corporation's employee gives a plaintiff a right of action for breach of fiduciary duty under New York law that runs directly against the corporation, even when the corporation's employee acted outside the scope of her employment and is not plaintiff's treating physician. Plaintiff's appeal presented a question that has not been resolved by the New York Court of Appeals. Accordingly, the court deferred decision and certified the question to the New York Court of Appeals. The court disposed of plaintiff's remaining claims on appeal in a separate summary order filed simultaneously with this opinion. View "Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd." on Justia Law
Paron Capital Mgmt., LLC, et al. v. Crombie
This action involved claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary against an individual defendant, a former investment professional accused of having committed a massive fraud related to a quantitatively-based trading program that he allegedly developed to trade futures contracts. Plaintiffs, as a result of their association with defendant and Paron, the firm they founded with defendant, claimed that they have been stigmatized and thus face dismal prospects of finding employment in the financial services industry. The court found that defendant committed fraud and breached his fiduciary duties to plaintiff and Paron by making false statements of fact about his program, his investment track record, and his personal financial situation. As a result, plaintiffs were entitled to extensive damages against defendant based on their lost future earnings and other costs associated with the formation and operation of Paron. The court also awarded plaintiffs limited injunctive relief requiring defendant to destroy or return copies of Paron's trading program and to stop marketing any versions of that trading program. View "Paron Capital Mgmt., LLC, et al. v. Crombie" on Justia Law
ASB Allegiance Real Estate Fund, et al. v. Scion Breckenridge Managing Member, LLC, et al.
Entities affiliated with ASB sued to reform the capital-event waterfall provisions in a series of agreements governing real estate joint ventures managed by affiliates of The Scion Group. The erroneously drafter provisions called for Scion to receive incentive compensation know as a "promote" even if the joint ventures lost money. Scion sought to enforce the agreements as written, and its affiliates advanced counterclaims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of contract. The court found that plaintiffs have proven their entitlement to reformation by clear and convincing evidence and entered a judgment in their favor of defendants' counterclaims. View "ASB Allegiance Real Estate Fund, et al. v. Scion Breckenridge Managing Member, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
In re Celera Corp. Shareholder Litigation
This putative class action was before the court on an application for the approval of settlement of the class's claims for, among other things, breaches of fiduciary duty in connection with a merger of two publicly traded Delaware corporations. The target's largest stockholder, which acquired the vast majority of its shares after the challenged transaction was announced, objected to the proposed settlement. In addition, defendants' and plaintiffs' counsel disagreed about the appropriate level of attorneys' fees that should be awarded. The court certified the class under Rules 23(a), (b)(1), and (b)(2) with NOERS as class representative; denied BVF's request to certify the class on only an opt out basis; approved the settlement as fair and reasonable; and awarded attorneys' fees to plaintiffs' counsel in the amount of $1,350,000, inclusive of expenses. View "In re Celera Corp. Shareholder Litigation" on Justia Law