March 11, 2014

Exclusive Forum Bylaws: An Illinois Court Weighs In

Brad Davey & Chris Kelly of Potter Anderson gives us this news:

In this transcript ruling, an Illinois state court dismissed an action brought by purported stockholders of Beam Inc. challenging Beam’s proposed acquisition by Suntory Holdings Limited. The Illinois court ruled that the action was barred by a bylaw adopted by Beam’s board of directors selecting Delaware as the exclusive forum for resolution of certain disputes involving the internal affairs of the corporation. The Illinois court relied heavily on the Delaware Court of Chancery’s decision in Boilermakers Local 154 Retirement Fund v. Chevron Corp., wherein then-Chancellor Strine upheld similar exclusive forum bylaws adopted by the boards of Chevron and FedEx. The Illinois court factually distinguished Galaviz v. Berg, a California federal court case that refused to honor an exclusive forum bylaw adopted by Oracle, but also stated that the Boilermakers decision is “simply more persuasive analytically.”

Courts in New York and Louisiana have also dismissed stockholder actions in reliance on exclusive-bylaws in favor of Delaware.