Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Damn Activist Judges

From napanews.com (read all the way to the last line because skipping to it will make it less funny):

If a shareholder lawsuit against the Mondavi Corporation isn't settled in the next two weeks, it will likely be decided by a judge at a Dec. 20 hearing, just two days before Mondavi shareholders are due to vote on a proposed buyout by beverage giant Constellation Brands.

Connecticut-based Bamboo Partners' class-action lawsuit against the Robert Mondavi Corporation and its board of directors shot forward Monday, with lawyers ordered to work at a frenzied pace gathering information and deposing witnesses to meet the Dec. 20 hearing deadline.

Bamboo Partners also clarified its case, filing a revised claim against the Mondavi Corporation that detailed what they say is a breach of the board of directors' duties to shareholders. They're asking a judge to order the $1.36 billion sale to Constellation stopped unless the Mondavi Corporation takes steps to ensure shareholders are treated fairly under the articles of incorporation and obtain the highest possible price per share.

"Essentially we're saying the deal should not close until it's made equal," said Jeff Westerman, a Bamboo Partners attorney based in Los Angeles.

The suit was filed after Mondavi received a $1.3 billion buyout offer from New York-based Constellation, but before the company ultimately accepted an offer sweetened to $1.36 billion. Bamboo Partners was selected at a Nov. 9 hearing to be the lead representative of shareholders. Attorneys for the Alaska Electrical Pension Fund, who filed a similar case against Mondavi, have appealed the designation of Bamboo Partners as lead plaintiff to the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

Lawyers representing the Mondavi Corporation and Constellation attended a Monday afternoon hearing where the two sides laid out their cases in front of Napa County Judge W. Scott Snowden. The judge took advantage of the absence of a court reporter to quote extensively from Bob Dylan songs.

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