Dow Reaffirms Delaware’s Business Judgment Rule

by David A. Katz, for The Harvard Law School Forum at Harvard Law School, Febraury 17, 2010.

The Delaware Chancery Court recently issued a resounding affirmation of the business judgment rule in the case In re the Dow Chemical Company Derivative Litigation. Directors can take comfort in this timely reminder that, despite challenging economic circumstances and an environment of heightened scrutiny of boards and individual directors, the protections of the business judgment rule remain robust in Delaware.

The Dow Chemical Case

Dow was a shareholder derivative suit filed nearly a year ago amid turmoil over Dow’s planned acquisition of another chemical company, Rohm & Haas, for aggregate consideration of approximately $18.8 billion. The Dow stockholders alleged that the directors and officers of Dow had breached their fiduciary duties in at least three different respects: first, in approving the Rohm & Haas transaction without a financing contingency; second, in misrepresenting the connection between the Rohm & Haas transaction and another pending transaction, a joint venture with a Kuwaiti company for which a memorandum of understanding had been entered into six months previously; and third, in failing to detect and prevent various corporate misdeeds during the course of both transactions, including bribery, misrepresentation, insider trading and wasteful compensation…(continue reading)

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