How do Legal Standards Matter? An Empirical Study of Special Litigation Committees. | Weatherhead

How do Legal Standards Matter? An Empirical Study of Special Litigation Committees.

How do Legal Standards Matter? An Empirical Study of Special Litigation Committees.

Authors

Published

Journal of Corporate Finance, vol. 60, February 2020

Abstract

We examine how legal standards affect outcomes in shareholder lawsuits where the defendants create Special Litigation Committees (SLCs). We compile a hand-collected sample of SLC associated lawsuits spanning a 26-year period from Jan 1, 1990 through Dec 31, 2015. We produce extensive descriptive statistics on the utilization, role and effect of SLCs. We find evidence that law matters for SLC outcomes: case dismissals are the lowest in Delaware jurisdiction where the courts apply stricter standards of judicial review. But in states with the weakest legal standards for SLC judicial review, SLC cases are more likely to be dismissed. Defense lawyers appear to exploit these differences to obtain dismissals at a higher rate, potentially impacting shareholder value. Our results have implications for the legal standard of review for SLC cases.