by James DeChene
The Delaware Chancery on Wednesday found Dole Food Co. Inc. CEO David Murdock and General Counsel C. Michael Carter liable to investors to the tune of $148 million for fraud intended to drive the company’s price down ahead of Murdock’s 2013 go-private deal.
In his opinion, Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster wrote that although the Dole board’s merger committee made a Herculean effort to overcome Murdock and Carter’s efforts to keep investors in the dark, it was deprived of information about the company’s ability to negotiate on a fully informed basis and potentially say no to the Merger.
Going so far as to accuse Murdock of being a “liar” and a “fraudster”, Laster stopped short of making accusations of any criminal wrongdoing. The case will be appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court, which will deliver the final verdict in the case.
James DeChene is the Chamber's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.