Three Is Not A Trend: Another Caremark Claim Survives A Motion To Dismiss, But Does Not Reflect A Change In The Law
The Delaware Court of Chancery recently denied another motion to dismiss a Caremark claim in Hughes v. Hu. Under In re Caremark International Inc. Derivative Litigation, directors have a duty to exercise oversight and monitor a corporation’s operational viability, legal compliance, and financial performance and reporting. Hughes is now the second decision, after In re Clovis Oncology, Inc. Derivative Litigation, to allow a Caremark claim to proceed beyond the pleadings stage since the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the Court of Chancery’s dismissal of a Caremark claim in Marchand v. Barnhill. It would be a mistake, however, to read Hughes as an extension of those decisions and only in that context. Indeed, Hughes understandably does not even cite Clovis. The better reading is that Hughes, like the Court of Chancery’s 2013 decisions in Rich v. Yu Kwai Chong and In re China Agritech, Inc. Shareholder Derivative Litigation, reflects the particular accounting and oversight difficulties witnessed in certain Chinese businesses that have gained access to the United States capital markets through a reverse merger. In short, the actions of the audit committee in Hughes are in no way analogous to how the vast majority of audit committees and their advisors operate to ensure a board fulfills its Caremark duties by exercising appropriate oversight. Nevertheless, Hughes reiterates the reasons why it is important for boards and committees to continue adhering to those best practices. In addition, Hughes addresses the importance of maintaining proper records and indicates how those records may be useful in responding to stockholder demands for books and records pursuant to 8 Del. C. § 220.