Justia Corporate Compliance Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Internet Law
Seidl v. Am. Century Co., Inc
American Century, a mutual fund, offers investment portfolios, including Ultra Fund. Ultra Fund invested in PartyGaming, a Gibraltar company that facilitated internet gambling. In 2005, PartyGaming made an initial public offering of its stock, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange. In its prospectus, PartyGaming noted that the legality of online gaming was uncertain in several countries, including the U.S.; 87 percent of its revenue came from U.S. customers. PartyGaming acknowledged that “action by US authorities … prohibiting or restricting PartyGaming from offering online gaming in the US . . . could result in investors losing all or a very substantial part of their investment.” Ultra Fund purchased shares in PartyGaming totaling over $81 million. In 2006, following increased government enforcement against illegal internet gambling, the stock price dropped. Ultra Fund divested itself of PartyGaming, losing $16 million. Seidl, a shareholder, claimed negligence, waste, and breach of fiduciary duty against American Century. The company refused her demand to bring an action. Seidl brought a shareholder’s derivative action. The Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants, concluding that Seidl could not bring suit where the company had declined to do so in a valid exercise of business judgment. The litigation committee adopted a reasonable methodology in conducting its investigation and reaching its conclusion. View "Seidl v. Am. Century Co., Inc" on Justia Law
Phillips v. Hove, et al.
This post-trial opinion determined the voting membership of GnB, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. The parties disputed whether Firehouse Gallery, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, was a voting member of GnB. The parties also disputed whether GnB possessed an exclusive license to use the first-tier, generic domain name candles.com; held an option to purchase candles.com; and owned other assorted domain names relating to the candles business. The court held that Firehouse and plaintiff, who controlled GnB, each held a 50% voting membership interest; GnB owned the exclusive license and option to purchase candles.com and the other domain names; and plaintiff and defendant, the current principal of Firehouse, each breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty to GnB and must account for the profits and personal benefits they received. The court held that defendant was not otherwise liable to GnB or plaintiff. Because all of the litigants engaged in misconduct that could support fee-shifting, the doctrine of unclean hands applied with particular salience. Accordingly, the court held that all parties would bear their own fees and costs. View "Phillips v. Hove, et al." on Justia Law
TrafficSchool.com, Inc., et al. v. Edriver Inc., et al.
Plaintiffs claimed that defendants, owners and managers of a for-profit website called DMV.org, violated federal and state unfair competition and false advertising laws by actively fostering the belief that DMV.org was an official state DMV website, or was affiliated or endorsed by a state DMV. The district court held that defendants violated section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), but rejected plaintiffs' claim under California's unfair competition statute. The district court issued an injunction ordering DMV.org to present every site visitor with a splash screen bearing a disclaimer and denied monetary relief and an award of attorney's fees to plaintiffs. Both sides appealed. The court held that plaintiffs had established sufficient injury for Article III standing and that plaintiffs had met both prongs of the test in Jack Russell Terrier Network of Northern California v. American Kennel Club, Inc. for Lanham Act standing. The court held that the district court committed no error in holding that defendants violated the Lanham Act but remanded for the district court to reconsider the duration of the splash screen in light of any intervening changes in the website's content and marketing practices, as well as the dissipation of the deception resulting from past practices. The court held that the district court did not err in denying damages. The court held that because the district court erred in finding that defendants'c conduct was not exceptional and that plaintiffs had unclean hands, its denial of attorney's fees was an abuse of discretion. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to consider the award of attorney's fees anew. The court held that the district court's findings that defendants were jointly and severally liable were not clearly erroneous. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to hold DMV.org in contempt for technical breaches of the injunction. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part, remanding with instructions. View "TrafficSchool.com, Inc., et al. v. Edriver Inc., et al." on Justia Law