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Judge refused to dismiss Dole privatization case

California readers may be interested in a recent development in a case involving Deutsche Bank AG, Dole Chief Executive Officer David Murdock and members of the board of directors of Dole Food Inc. On Feb 5, a Delaware Chancery Judge decided against dismissing a case challenging Dole's 2013 privatization. Murdock, the board members and Deutsche Bank had sought to avoid facing trial. The judge's decision is noteworthy, since Delaware courts have a reputation of deferring to boards of directors in corporate disputes.

The judge's ruling stated that legitimate questions had been raised by investors. According to the ruling, investors had raised doubts regarding board members' independence from Murdock after finding evidence that the fruit company CEO had taken punitive action against and threatened directors who did not adhere to his wishes in the past. Investors allege that Deutsche Bank helped Murdock structure the transaction in such a way that it was detrimental for shareholders.

When a business relationship changes or dissolves, the result may be litigation in some cases. An attorney with a background in corporate disputes may negotiate with the other parties to settle the matter out of court. If the case is not settled through negotiation, an attorney could file a motion to have the case dismissed. However, if the judge were to decide against dismissal, the case might proceed to trial.

If a business dispute does go to trial, an attorney may provide legal counsel and representation throughout the proceedings. If the judge or jury comes back with an unfavorable decision, the attorney may file a motion for appeal.

Source: Bloomberg Business, "Dole CEO Faces Trial Over Privatization: Business of Law", Ellen Rosen, Feb. 8, 2015

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