As regular readers know, I’ve spent the last two weeks trying a case with Francis Malofiy. [If you googled in looking for him, skip to the bottom of this post.] Last Friday, after 15 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client on all six questions — relating to the nature of the agreement, damages, whether our client breached his obligations, whether defendants would get a set-off, and when the statute of limitations began to run — and awarded him $4.17 million in damages. The vote was 10–2, which is good enough under Pennsylvania law. The judge kindly let the attorneys talk with the jurors (assuming they wanted to talk, of course), so I went back to figure out what happened with those two holdouts.

Post-verdict discussions with jurors often reveal a handful of surprising and insightful comments that sometimes make me re-think how I tried the case. Jurors tend to take their duties very seriously, and so lawyers can usually jump right into detailed questions about the facts and what they thought about various issues. We were fortunate to have a number of invigorated and candid jurors who were happy to talk to us about the case.

In our case — in which our client alleged that he was frozen out of his ownership interest in an industrial business after spending two years building the business’ physical plant — there were a lot of issues, from the disclosure requirements for SBA Loans to the right type of saw for a particular cutting machine, but one issue loomed large: the lack of a written agreement. We had documents (including one signed by all the parties) supporting our claims, they had documents (signed by them, but not our client; we alleged they were created after the lawsuit was filed) supporting their claims, but there was no single document that purported to be the agreement among the parties. It was mostly our client’s word against the defendants’ word, with each side portraying radically different circumstances surrounding the agreement, chiefly differences over the work our client did in those two years.


Continue Reading Doing Business On A Handshake

I’ve sued several multinational banks for breaches of fiduciary duty and breaches of contract, and have always been amazed their lack of any accountability or responsibility. It’s not just a handful of instances of banks selling a company’s loan to their competitor and bank lawyers lying to federal regulators. They live in a different

[UPDATE: In related news, a federal judge in San Francisco recently ignored a forum selection bylaw that tried to force derivative suits to be filed in the Delaware Chancery Court. “A bylaw unilaterally adopted by directors…stands on a different footing [from contractual forum agreements],” Judge Seeborg wrote. “Particularly where, as here, the bylaw

I already made one post out of The Social Network (i.e., Why Mark Zuckerberg Won’t Sue For Defamation Over The Facebook Movie), which is one more than I expected, but apparently there’s another legal issue in there.

Gawker and Business Insider published a scoop yesterday on the "dirty tricks" that Mark Zuckerberg used to

[Update, May 2012: Leo E. Strine, Jr., Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, referenced this post in his thoughtful new law review article, Our Continuing Struggle With the Idea That For-Profit Corporations Seek Profit, 47 Wake Forest L. Rev. 135 (2012).]

[UpdatesFrancis Pileggi has his take (courtesy

Via the Am Law Daily, the Wall Street Journal had an article about an effort by Bank of America’s lawyers — at Wachtell, Davis Polk, and Cleary Gottlieb — to keep Judge Jed Rakoff from presiding over a shareholder class action against them:

Bank of America Corp. tried to keep cases pending against it

The New York Times reports:

Private equity deal-makers, those kings of corporate buyouts, made billions for themselves when times were good. But some of their biggest investors, public pension funds, are still waiting for the hefty rewards they were promised.

The nation’s 10 largest public pension funds have paid private equity firms more than

Kevin LaCroix at The D&O Diary reports,

On March 24, 2010, Cornerstone Research released its annual study of securities class action lawsuit settlements. The most recent study, which is entitled "Securities Class Action Settlements: 2009 Review and Analysis" and is written by Ellen M. Ryan and Laura E. Simmons, can be found here. Cornerstone’s

[Updated to clarify a distinction between securities suits and investment company act suits.]

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Jones v. Harris. Briefly, the Oakmark complex of mutual funds "hired" Harris Associates as investment advisers, paying Harris 1% (per year) of the first $2 billion of the fund’s assets, 0.9%