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.