June 08, 2006
Footnote 112
Posted by Gordon Smith

Darian and RR focus our attention on footnote 112:

[W]e do not reach or otherwise address the issue of whether the fiduciary duty to act in good faith is a duty that, like the duties of care and loyalty, can serve as an independent basis for imposing liability upon corporate officers and directors. That issue is not before us on this appeal.

I agree with RR that this is odd, and that we could have used an answer. This footnote is in deep tension with the text of the opinion. As I noted below, the Court took pains to distinguish the duty of good faith from the other traditional duties. Also, in January, I explained at length why the plaintiffs misunderstood the role of bad faith in rebutting the business judgment rule. In the opinion today, the Court made the same essential points, though more briefly. The bottom line: bad faith can be used for "rebutting the business judgment rule presumptions" and for "evaluating the availability of charter-authorized exculpation from monetary damage liability after liability has been established." (p. 40) But we don't know if it can be an independent basis for liability?

In addition, the Court describes actions that must be "proscribed" using the duty of good faith: "To protect the interests of the corporation and its shareholders, fiduciary conduct ... which does not involve disloyalty (as traditionally defined) but is qualitatively more culpable than gross negligence, should be proscribed." Does the duty serve as a "proscription" if it cannot be summoned as an independent basis for liability?

Finally, the Court notes that "highly significant consequences" flow from distinguishing the duty of care and the duty of good faith. The two consequences it discusses are exculpation under Section 102(b)(7) and indemnification under Section 145. Strange that the Court does not mention in this part of the opinion the possibility that the duty of care might be the basis of liability (at least, theoretically) while the duty of good faith might not.

All of this suggests to me that footnote 112 was an afterthought designed to secure a vote for the opinion in pursuit of unanimity. But as for why one or more of the justices perceived this to be necessary is not at all clear to me.

Disney, Forum: Disney | Bookmark

TrackBacks (0)

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Links to weblogs that reference Footnote 112:

Recent Comments
Popular Threads
Search The Glom
The Glom on Twitter
Archives by Topic
Archives by Date
January 2019
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    
Miscellaneous Links