Frank v. Robert F. Booth Trust, No. 10-3285 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
When Sears, Roebuck & Co. merged with Kmart in 2005, the company formed as the parent (Sears) inherited directors from both. Crowley also serves on the boards of AutoNation and AutoZone; Reese is also on the board of Jones Apparel. In a derivative action, Sears shareholders claimed that the consolidated business competes with those other firms and that the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 19 (section 8), forbids the interlocking directorships. Delaware usually allows investors to sue derivatively only if, after a demand for action, the board cannot make a disinterested decision. The investors filed suit without first making a demand. The district court refused to dismiss, accepting an assertion that a demand would have been futile and agreeing that section 8 can be enforced through derivative litigation, even though cooperation with a competitor should benefit the investors. The Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that the suit "serves no goal other than to move money from the corporate treasury to the attorneys' coffers," while depriving Sears of directors, freely elected and of benefit to the company. Usually serving on multiple boards demonstrates breadth of experience, which promotes competent and profitable management. The Antitrust Division and the FTC do not see a problem.