Articles Posted in Business Disputes


Shareholder derivative lawsuits are legal actions brought by individual shareholders on behalf of a corporation against its officers, directors, or other insiders. These lawsuits typically allege misconduct, mismanagement, or breaches of fiduciary duties by those in control of the corporation. Defending against a shareholder derivative lawsuit can be complex and challenging, but with the right strategies and considerations, it is possible to protect the interests of both the corporation and its shareholders. In this blog post, we’ll explore the key steps and considerations involved in defending against a shareholder derivative lawsuit.

1. Understand the Basics of Shareholder Derivative Lawsuits

Before diving into defense strategies, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what a shareholder derivative lawsuit entails. These lawsuits are filed on behalf of the corporation, not individual shareholders, and seek to hold company insiders accountable for alleged wrongdoing. Understanding the legal framework is the first step in formulating an effective defense.

2. Evaluate the Merits of the Lawsuit

The first line of defense in any shareholder derivative lawsuit is a thorough evaluation of the merits of the claims. Engage experienced legal counsel to assess the allegations and evidence. Determine whether the allegations have a factual basis and whether they meet the legal requirements for pursuing a derivative action. If the claims lack merit, you may have grounds to seek dismissal. Continue reading ›

Any contract you’ve signed with a company (including the “Terms of Service” most of us don’t read before clicking the box next to “I agree that I have read and agree to the terms”) has included a clause about where you and that company can resolve legal disputes. In some cases, it’s in a certain state, or even a specific county, but increasingly courts have been forcing their customers, vendors, and employees into arbitration.

Arbitration was originally designed as a way for companies to settle legal disputes with other companies outside of court so they wouldn’t flood the court system. But several years ago companies started including arbitration clauses in their contracts with individuals, often without those individuals realizing they were signing away their rights to a fair trial.

As the issue of companies getting out of control when it comes to their arbitration clauses has become more widespread, judges and legislators have started taking measures to curb companies’ use of arbitration agreements with individuals – especially when it comes to their customers and employees.

So far, Pennsylvania is the only state to pass a law requiring all corporations doing business in the state to consent to being sued in Pennsylvania court by anyone, for conduct the corporation engaged in anywhere. Continue reading ›

Donald J. Trump is already facing dozens of criminal charges for allegedly falsifying business records and misusing campaign funds in an alleged attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. Yet Trump is back in court suing his former attorney, Michael Cohen, for $500 million.

The lawsuit accuses Cohen of talking publicly about things that should have remained confidential between him and his former client. The lawsuit also accuses Cohen of telling lies about Mr. Trump in the media and in Cohen’s two books, Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump, and Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the U.S. Department of Justice Against His Critics.

The first book was published prior to the 2020 presidential election, whereas the second was released in 2022. Among other things, the books accuse Trump of being a racist and of lying about just about everything. Continue reading ›

We all know attorneys are not allowed to represent both sides in a lawsuit, but what if the law firm currently representing one side used to represent the other side? Wouldn’t that be considered a conflict of interest? It’s especially likely to pose a problem if the issue involved in the lawsuit is the same issue the law firm previously handled for the other side.

If the law firm had recently represented the company they’re currently suing, it’s obvious how that could cause problems. But what if the prior legal work in question was performed more than a decade ago? Would that be long enough to erase the conflict of interest?

All that is in question as Walgreens seeks to disqualify a law firm currently filing a lawsuit against it on behalf of major health insurance providers.

Walgreens claims the law firm, Crowell & Moring, has breached its fiduciary duty to the giant retail company by representing major health insurers suing Walgreens over drug prices. The law firm sought to have the claims dismissed, but U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said Walgreens had provided enough evidence to keep their claim alive, at least for now. Continue reading ›

A Call from a Friend Led Him to a Multi-Million-Dollar Case

A lot of people tend to assume lawyers have enormous salaries, but a lot of lawyers, especially those working at small firms, make only a modest income. So, the millions of dollars that might be on their way to attorney David Wasinger as part of a settlement agreement he negotiated and a case he won is anything but business as usual for him.

Wasinger is the only partner of a small law firm in St. Louis, Missouri. He works with just four other lawyers and his firm handles mostly business disputes. He had never represented a whistleblower until he got a call from an old business acquaintance in early 2012.

A whistleblower is someone who works in an organization that is allegedly committing fraud against the government, and they decide to alert the authorities. Because whistleblowers are risking their jobs and their reputation, they usually receive 15-25% of the settlement or court-ordered award that comes out of the lawsuit as an incentive to alert the government to fraud.

A share of that money goes to the lawyers representing the whistleblower, which is why whistleblower cases are highly competitive. Wasinger’s position is unique in that he didn’t compete to represent this client – the client reached out to him because they already had a relationship. When you’re blowing the whistle on fraud worth billions of dollars, you need someone you can trust.

The first lawsuit Wasinger brought to court accused Bank of America’s Countrywide unit of engaging in widespread fraud. In January of 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan announced it would be asking for as much as $2.1 billion in penalties from the bank after a jury found it to be guilty of fraud. Continue reading ›

When someone files a lawsuit alleging physical or emotional abuse, they can often find the legal process to be retraumatizing. They are forced to relive the incident(s) that hurt them over and over again, first when hiring a lawyer, then in deposition, then again in court. It’s not an easy process, and it’s a big reason that many victims never pursue legal action. It’s also a big reason many of those who do file never pursue it all the way to court.

Moss Gropen is one such victim who alleges he was abused and neglected by Palomar Medical Center. According to the lawsuit, Gropen went to the hospital for a scheduled procedure to remove fluid from the area surrounding his lungs. Instead, he claims he was admitted to the emergency room where doctors inserted a chest tube, then put him in a windowless room and left him alone with substandard nutrition. Gropen alleges he suffered from uncontrollable sobbing and anxiety, which resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from which he says he continues to suffer.

Gropen is suing the hospital along with several of its doctors and employees for causing his PTSD. When he appeared at the offices of the hospital’s lawyers in July to provide his deposition, his wife came with him to provide emotional support during what was bound to be a challenging time for Gropen.

The lawyers immediately objected to the presence of Gropen’s wife at the deposition because she is a witness in the lawsuit. Having Gropen’s wife present while he provides his deposition could lead to the two of them colluding on their testimony. Gropen refused to provide testimony without his wife present and ended up leaving the office without providing testimony. Continue reading ›

In the case of Pickering v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., 265 Ill. App. 3d 806, the plaintiff sought punitive damages against the defendant for the defendant’s failure to warn consumers of the dangers associated with asbestos exposure. Punitive damages are damages awarded in addition to compensatory damages and are intended to punish the defendant for their wrongful conduct and to deter similar conduct in the future.

In this case, the plaintiff sought to discover the net worth of the defendant as part of their efforts to establish punitive damages. The defendant objected to the request for net worth discovery, arguing that it was irrelevant to the issue of punitive damages and that it was overly burdensome and intrusive.

The court held that net worth discovery was relevant to the issue of punitive damages and that the defendant had a duty to disclose its net worth. The court noted that punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and that the amount of punitive damages awarded should be proportionate to the defendant’s ability to pay. The court also noted that net worth discovery is a common practice in cases involving punitive damages. Continue reading ›

“The focus of the crime fraud exception is on the intent of the client (citation omitted), not the legitimacy of the services provided by the attorney. An attorney may be completely innocent of wrongdoing, yet the privilege will give way if the client sought the attorney’s assistance for illegal ends.” People v. Radojcic, 2013 IL 114197, ¶ 49.

A lawyer’s participation in intentional breaches of fiduciary duty triggers the crime-fraud exception even though a fiduciary breach is no necessarily a crime or act of common law fraud. Intentional fiduciary breaches are regularly called constructive fraud however and give rise to the crime fraud exception. See Mueller Indus., Inc. v. Berkman, 399 Ill.App.3d 456, 469-73 (2d Dist. 2010) abrogated by People v. Radojcic, 2013 IL 114197 on other grounds (“In concluding that an intentional breach of fiduciary duty may serve as the fraud necessary to establish the crime-fraud exception, we take note of Steelvest, Inc. v. Scansteel Service Center, Inc., 807 S.W.2d 476 (Ky.1991). … The Kentucky Supreme Court held that the breach of fiduciary duty was ‘on an equal par with fraud and deceit.”’) Lawyers who aid and abet fiduciary breaches and other torts are subject to suit. As Thornwood, Inc. v. Jenner & Block, 344 Ill. App. 3d 15, 28–29 (1st Dist. 2003), as modified on denial of reh’g (Nov. 10, 2003) recognized, a lawyer may not “escap[e] liability for knowingly and substantially assisting a client in the commission of a tort.” Continue reading ›

Yes, it is possible to sue a lawyer in a shareholder derivative action in certain jurisdictions including Illinois. A shareholder derivative action is a lawsuit brought by a shareholder on behalf of a corporation against a third party. The lawsuit is typically brought when the corporation has been harmed by the actions of a third party, but the corporation’s management has failed to take action.

In a shareholder derivative action, the shareholder acts as a representative of the corporation and brings the lawsuit on the corporation’s behalf. If the shareholder is successful in the lawsuit, any damages or remedies awarded go to the corporation, not to the individual shareholder.

In some cases, the corporation’s harm may be caused by the actions of the corporation’s own lawyers. For example, if a lawyer provides negligent or inadequate legal advice to the corporation, causing the corporation to suffer damages, the corporation’s shareholders may be able to bring a shareholder derivative action against the lawyer on behalf of the corporation.

In order to bring a successful shareholder derivative action against a lawyer, the shareholders must be able to show that the lawyer breached their duty of care to the corporation and that this breach caused harm to the corporation. The shareholders must also show that they have exhausted all other available remedies, such as asking the corporation’s management to take action against the lawyer.

In conclusion, it is possible to sue a lawyer in a shareholder derivative action if the lawyer’s actions have harmed the corporation. However, such lawsuits can be complex and challenging, and it is important to seek the advice of a qualified attorney before pursuing this type of legal action. Continue reading ›

The family of Marvin Gaye rocked the music world in 2015 when they sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for copying elements of Gaye’s hit, “Got to Give It Up,” in their own hit, “Blurred Lines.” Up until the jury sided with Gaye’s family, most musicians had assumed the musical elements in question were public domain.

That lawsuit seems to have opened up the floodgates, given the number of copyright lawsuits that have been filed in the music industry in the past eight years. Not all the lawsuits have ended in the plaintiffs’ favor, but enough have to give musicians pause when writing a new song.

The latest copyright lawsuit to make headlines in the music industry involves another Gaye song, “Let’s Get It On.” Instead of Gaye’s family, this copyright lawsuit has been filed by the family of Ed Townsend, who was the primary songwriter and owned 2/3 of the royalties on the song.

The case hinges on two chord progressions that are similar, but not identical. Even a musical expert testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs admitted the two chords have slight differences, but he maintained that they are interchangeable.

An attorney for the plaintiffs showed the jury a video of Sheeran performing a mashup of the two songs in question. The attorney claimed that Sheeran’s ability to move seamlessly from one song to the other proves that Sheeran stole the chord progression from the 1973 hit. Continue reading ›

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