Articles Posted in Corporate Compliance

by
Plaintiff Jeffrey Weinman was the Chapter 7 Trustee for Adam Aircraft Industries (“AAI”). Defendant Joseph Walker was an officer of AAI and served as its president and as a member of its Board of Directors. Throughout his employment, Walker had neither a written employment contract nor a severance agreement with AAI. In February 2007, the Board decided it wanted to replace Walker as both president and as a board member. Since AAI did not want Walker’s termination to disrupt its ongoing negotiations for debt financing, AAI suggested that Walker could voluntarily “resign” in lieu of termination and could also continue to support the company publicly. Subsequently, Walker agreed, and the parties executed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) outlining the terms of Walker’s separation, and they also embodied these terms in two Separation Agreements and Releases. About a year after terminating Walker, AAI declared bankruptcy. It then sued in bankruptcy court to avoid further transfers to Walker, to recover some transfers previously made to Walker, and to disallow Walker’s claim on AAI’s bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court denied AAI’s claims. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (“BAP”) affirmed this ruling in its entirety. AAI appealed part of the ruling, arguing that its obligations and transfers to Walker were avoidable under the Code on two alternative bases. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the BAP's decision. View "Weinman v. Walker" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s dismissal of a securities class action against ZAGG, Inc. and its former CEO and Chairman, Robert Pedersen, alleging violations of the antifraud provisions of the securities laws. The plaintiffs alleged Pedersen failed to disclose in several of ZAGG’s SEC filings the fact that he had pledged nearly half of his ZAGG shares (or approximately 9 percent of the company), as collateral in a margin account. The district court dismissed the complaint for a failure to plead particularized facts giving rise to a strong inference that Pedersen acted with an intent to defraud as required by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA). The Tenth Circuit found that the PSLRA subjected plaintiffs to a heightened pleading requirement of alleging intent to defraud with particularized facts that give rise to an inference that is at least as cogent as any competing, nonculpable explanations for a defendant’s conduct. After review, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that the plaintiffs did not meet that standard here. View "Swabb v. ZAGG, Inc." on Justia Law

by
In an effort to save Quartz Mountain Aerospace, some of its investors and directors took out large loans from First State Bank of Altus for the benefit of the company. The Bank failed, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) took over as receiver and filed suit to collect on the loans. The Borrowers raised affirmative defenses to the FDIC’s claims and brought counterclaims, alleging that the Bank’s CEO had assured them that they would not be personally liable on any of the loans. The district court granted summary judgment for the FDIC because the CEO’s alleged promises were not properly memorialized in the Bank’s records. The Borrowers appealed on two grounds: (1) that the district court should not have granted summary judgment before allowing them to conduct discovery, and (2) that the district court should have set aside the summary judgment because they presented newly discovered evidence of securities fraud by the Bank. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court on both of the Borrowers' claims. View "FDIC v. Arciero, et al" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner Lisa McBride was an accountant who worked as Respondent Peak Wellness Center’s business manager for about nine years. Peak terminated her in 2009, citing job performance and morale issues. Petitioner claimed she was terminated in retaliation for bringing various accounting improprieties to the attention of Peak’s Board of Directors. Petitioner brought several federal and state-law claims against Peak: (1) whistleblower retaliation under the federal False Claims Act (FCA); (2) violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); (3) breach of employment contract; (4) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (5) defamation; and (6) a federal sex discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. After discovery, Peak moved for summary judgment on all claims, and the district court granted the motion. Petitioner appealed, arguing that significant issues of material fact remained unresolved and that her claims should have proceeded to trial. She also appealed district court’s denial of an evidentiary motion. Finding no error in the district court’s decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed its grant of summary judgment in favor of Peak. View "McBride v. Peak Wellness Center Inc." on Justia Law