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D&O litigation digest: Insurers sue PG&E over Calif. fire losses

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D&O litigation digest: Insurers sue PG&E over Calif. fire losses

The number of securities-related lawsuits filed in the U.S. has risen rapidly in recent years, particularly after M&A transactions and other significant corporate developments are announced.

S&P Global Market Intelligence is now keeping track of such cases filed against companies in our covered industries. The following information is compiled on a best-efforts basis twice monthly.

Biotechnology

Certain directors of TG Therapeutics Inc. failed to disclose that a blood cancer trial had not met its overall response rate goal and that potential commercialization would be delayed, according to a verified stockholder derivative complaint by Thessalus Capital LLC. The suit alleges that because the company was involved in cleaning the data collected in the study, it knew that the study had failed to meet its goal of a 15% increase in overall response rate and that, as a result, the company would not be able to seek accelerated approval.

A shareholder derivative action alleges that certain Opko Health Inc. officers and directors made materially false and misleading statements regarding the company's business, operational and compliance policies. Specifically, the action alleges that Opko and Chairman and CEO Phillip Frost were participants in a pump-and-dump scheme designed, in part, to artificially inflate the price of various stocks, allowing Frost, among others, to reap millions of dollars in unlawful profits.

Broadcasting

A verified stockholder derivative complaint alleges that certain directors and officers of Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. breached their fiduciary duties in connection with their conduct during an attempted merger with Tribune Media Co.

The complaint alleges that in an effort to meet FCC requirements that Sinclair divest certain television stations to win approval for the deal, the defendants presided over a scheme involving transactions with buyers intertwined with the company and its controlling shareholders, the Smith brothers.

The complaint follows an earlier action that made similar allegations.

Casinos and gaming

Wynn Resorts Ltd. accused Genting Malaysia Berhad's Las Vegas casino of being designed too similarly to Wynn's Las Vegas and Encore sites across the street, Bloomberg News reported. Genting's Resorts World Las Vegas has yet to open, though the construction site already looks "substantially and confusingly similar," as the site contains the trademarked "concave facade and horizontal banding above and between the lines of glass panes," the documents said.

Construction and engineering

A verified stockholder derivative complaint alleges that certain Dycom Industries Inc. officers and directors breached their duties of loyalty and good faith by causing the company to issue false and misleading statements concerning its business results and prospects of the company. Specifically, the defendants failed to disclose that its large projects were dependent on permitting and tactical considerations and that Dycom was facing uncertainties related to permitting issues, among other things.

Electric utilities

South Carolina Public Service Authority, commonly known as Santee Cooper, filed several cross-claims against South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. for breach of contract and gross negligence tied to the July 2017 abandonment of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant expansion.

Allstate Corp., State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and United Services Automobile Association filed lawsuits against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. over the billions of dollars in claims they anticipate facing following the deadliest wildfire in California history, The Sacramento Bee reported. The insurers assert that they suffered damages as a result of the PG&E Corp. subsidiary's failure to properly maintain transmission lines and other infrastructure to prevent fire.

Investment banks

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is facing a class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of failing to disclose in regulatory filings about its involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal. The complaint said Goldman Sachs' Forms 10-K from 2013 to 2015 only contained "merely generic, boilerplate representations with respect to the company's risk of regulatory enforcement 'relating to corrupt and illegal payments and money laundering.'"

Leisure products producers

MGA Entertainment Inc. filed a complaint in the Los Angeles federal court against Louis Vuitton Malletier SA, a unit of luxury goods maker LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, for hampering the sale of its "Pooey Puitton" toy purse, Reuters reported. MGA said in the filing that the slime-filled toy purse is a parody product intended to mock the wealth and celebrity associated with Louis Vuitton.

Precious metals

Three nonprofit firms filed complaints with the British Columbia Securities Commission against Pan American Silver Corp. and Tahoe Resources Inc. for allegedly concealing risks related to the latter's flagship Escobal silver mine in Guatemala, Financial Post reported. The complainants argued that the miners are overly optimistic in their timeline for reopening the troubled mine, while failing to disclose all conflicts with the community surrounding the operation.

Telecommunications

A verified stockholder derivative complaint accuses certain current and former CenturyLink Inc. officers and directors of breaching their fiduciary duties by causing and/or knowingly allowing the company to engage in an illegal scheme that involved misquoting prices and improperly billing customers for services they did not request. The complaint points to a Bloomberg News article in which a former employee said she allegedly lost her job after raising concerns about fraudulent billing practices. According to the lawsuit, the "systemic overbilling was condoned and encouraged" by CenturyLink's leadership.