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11 - Commentary on Francis v. United Jersey Bank

from Part IV - Fiduciary Duties in Corporate Governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2023

Anne M. Choike
Affiliation:
Michigan State University
Usha R. Rodrigues
Affiliation:
University of Georgia School of Law
Kelli Alces Williams
Affiliation:
Florida State University
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Summary

Mrs. Pritchard became the director of a family-owned reinsurance firm, Pritchard & Baird Intermediaries Corp (P & B), following the death of her husband. Mrs. Pritchard’s two sons were executives of the company, which eventually went bankrupt. The plaintiff, trustee of the P & B’s bankruptcy estate, filed this suit against the deceased Mrs. Pritchard’s estate claiming she was negligently liable as director for the over $10 million her sons improperly removed from the firm. The feminist rewrite agrees with the original opinion that Mrs. Pritchard was negligent in her role of corporate oversight, but it deviates by arguing Mrs. Pritchard was not negligent for failure to notice the financial issues because she should not have been expected to understand the intricacies of the business of which she served mostly as the figurehead and emotional glue. The rewritten opinion points out the implicit bias built within the New Jersey directors’ duty statute, which refers to “prudent men.” The commentary argues Mrs. Pritchard chose not to extend great care because she was not compensated or given much actual power within P & B. The commentary also critiques the rewritten opinion’s dismissiveness of Mrs. Pritchard’s corporate knowhow as not feminist enough.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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