William J. Foley

Senior Associate

New York


Read full biography at www.orrick.com
William Foley is a Senior Associate in the New York Office and a member of the Securities Litigation, Investigations and Enforcement practice group.His practice focuses on the representation of financial institutions, investment advisors and other public and privately-held companies in corporate and securities litigation, and other complex business litigation matters. In particular, he has wide-ranging experience representing clients in stock-drop class actions, shareholder derivative actions, M&A and hostile takeover disputes, and complex contractual and business tort cases before federal and state courts and the Delaware Court of Chancery.

Mr. Foley also devotes a significant portion of his practice to providing pro bono services, primarily in civil rights and immigration matters.

He has written and contributed to articles appearing in the New York Law Journal, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, Financial Law Fraud Report, Bloomberg BNA, and Westlaw Journal. He was previously an associate with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.

Posts by: William Foley

Recent SEC Enforcement Actions and Public Commentary Demonstrate the Commission’s Continued Focus on Internal Control Failures

We have previously written about how, over the past few years, the SEC and other regulatory agencies have devoted substantial resources to investigations regarding allegations that public companies have inadequate internal controls and/or a system for reporting those controls.  See herehere and here.  That effort shows no signs of waning.  As recently as March 23, 2016, the SEC announced a settlement with a multi-national company due in part to the internal controls failures at two foreign subsidiaries.  On March 10, 2016, the SEC announced a settlement of claims against Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation in connection with alleged internal control failures.  And, on February 17, 2016, the SEC announced a settlement of claims against a biopesticide company, Marrone Bio Innovations, based on the company having reported misstated financial results caused in part by internal control failures.[1]

READ MORE

Supreme Court Affirms Class Certification and Judgment Predicated upon “Representative Evidence”

On March 22, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a decision permitting class plaintiffs to rely on “representative” or “sample” evidence to satisfy the prerequisites to class certification and certain elements of their claims.  See Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, No. 14-1146, 2016 WL 1092414 (Mar. 22, 2016).  This is one of the relatively few recent class action decisions by the Court that could be construed as something other than a victory for class defendants.  As Justice Thomas stated in dissent, the decision arguably is inconsistent with the Court’s pro-defendant decisions in Wal-Mart and Comcast.  We have previously discussed the Supreme Court’s recent class action jurisprudence, including the Wal-Mart and Comcast decisions.

READ MORE

Former Hedge Fund Manager’s Civil Rights Suit Against New York U.S. Attorney Permitted to Proceed into Discovery

Shortly into his tenure as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara announced a crackdown on insider trading, indicating that it would be his office’s “top criminal priority” and that investigations would utilize novel and “covert methods” to achieve convictions, including using wiretaps and informants.  According to Bharara, “every legitimate tool should be at our disposal.”  Over the next several years, federal prosecutors in Manhattan initiated nearly 100 insider trading cases against some of Wall Street’s leading names, and secured more than 80 convictions, many through guilty pleas.  For his work, Time magazine featured Bharara on its February 13, 2012 cover under the headline: “This Man is Busting Wall Street.”

READ MORE

Chancery Court Continues to Close the Door on Disclosure-Only Settlements and Fees (But Opens a Window for “Mootness Dismissals”)

Building

As previously discussed here, in 2015, the Delaware Court of Chancery issued a number of decisions calling for enhanced scrutiny of “disclosure-only” M&A settlements that involve no monetary benefits to a shareholder class.  For example, the recent decision in In re Riverbed Technology, Inc. Stockholders Litigation expressly eliminated the “reasonable expectation” that a merger case can be settled by exchanging insignificant supplemental disclosures (and nothing more) for a broad release of claims.  In In re Trulia, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, the Chancery Court demonstrated that its “increase[ed] vigilance” in this area is genuine, rejecting a disclosure-only M&A settlement and finding that the supplemental disclosures did not warrant the broad release of claims.

READ MORE

Exchanges Prevail in Flash Boys-Inspired Suits

The practice of high frequency trading has been a hot-button issue of late, thanks in part to Michael Lewis’ 2014 book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, which examines the rise of this phenomenon throughout U.S. markets.  Several class action lawsuits have alleged that various private and public stock and derivatives exchanges entered into agreements and received undisclosed fees to favor high frequency traders (“HFTs”), conferring timing advantages that damaged other market participants.  Two courts have recently addressed the merits of claims for damages against such exchanges and both ruled that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for relief.

READ MORE

In re Riverbed: The Beginning of the End for Disclosure-Only Settlements in M&A Cases?

Gavel and Hundred-Dollar Bill

The past decade has seen an incredible rise in M&A litigation.  According to Cornerstone, in 2014, a whopping 93% of announced mergers valued over $100 million were subject to litigation, up from 44% in 2007.  As Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo Strine explained several years ago, “the reality is that every merger involving Delaware public companies draws shareholder litigation within days of its announcement.”  These lawyer-driven class action suits, which typically allege breaches of fiduciary duty by directors and insufficient disclosures, overwhelmingly end in settlement, with corporate defendants agreeing to provide additional disclosures in exchange for a broad release, and plaintiffs’ counsel walking away with attorneys’ fees for the theoretical “benefit” they conferred upon the class.

READ MORE

SEC Expands its Focus in the Municipal Bond Market, Bringing First-Ever Charges Against an Underwriter for Pricing Violations Related to Primary Offerings

Coming on the heels of the SEC’s first wave of settlements with underwriters as part of its Municipalities Continuing Disclosure Cooperation (“MCDC”) initiative, the agency has brought yet another precedent-setting enforcement action against an underwriter in the municipal bond market.  On August 13, 2015, the SEC brought a settled enforcement action against the brokerage firm Edward Jones, in which the firm agreed to pay more than $20 million to settle charges that it overcharged customers in connection with the sale of municipal bonds in the primary market.  Edward Jones settled without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.

READ MORE

Chamber of Commerce Airs Grievances Related To Internal Controls Inspections

In recent months, issues related to internal control systems and reporting have taken on an increased profile and significance.  For example, as previously noted by the authors here and here, the SEC has sought to prioritize compliance with internal controls by initiating a growing number of investigations into companies based on allegations of inadequate internal controls.

READ MORE

FINRA Offers 11.7 Million Reasons To Maintain Adequate Supervisory Controls

Stack of Money

As noted previously in this blog, the SEC and other regulatory agencies continue to display an increased interest in the issue of internal and supervisory controls.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) has continued this trend, recently bringing charges against a number of member firms related to allegedly inadequate supervisory controls.

READ MORE

Delaware Chancery Awards Investors $171 Million

On April 20, 2015, the Delaware Court of Chancery issued a decision awarding $171 million in damages to the common unitholders of a limited partnership against its general partner in connection with a “dropdown” transaction.  The decision is the latest in a series of decisions by the Chancery Court concerning the conduct of directors and advisers in conflict of interest and/or sale of the company transactions.  See also In re Rural/Metro Corp. S’holders Litig., No. 6350-VCL (Del. Ch. Oct. 10, 2014); Chen v. Howard-Anderson, No. 5878-VCL (Del Ch. April 8, 2014); In re Orchard Enter., Inc. S’holder Litig., No. 7840-VCL (Del. Ch. Feb. 28, 2014).  The decision yet again highlights areas that should be of concern to boards and their advisers in such transactions.

READ MORE