HALE v. CHU (August 9, 2010)
Plaintiffs Hale and others filed a derivative action against China Online, Victor Chu, and others. They alleged that the defendants breached certain fiduciary duties owed to China Online and its shareholders. Chu removed, asserting that diversity exists if China Online is ignored -- and China Online should be ignored because it was fraudulently joined. Plaintiffs moved to remand and Chu moved to dismiss. Judge Kendall (N.D. Ill.) denied the former and granted the latter. The court relied on the fact that the company’s dissolution terminated plaintiffs' status as shareholders and their ability to bring a derivative action. Alternatively, the court stated that it would dismiss for plaintiffs' failure to make the requisite demand or show futility. Plaintiffs appeal.
In their opinion, Judges Bauer, Flaum, and Tinder affirmed. On appeal, the plaintiffs conceded that they had no right to bring a derivative action in the name of China Online. For the first time, they asked the Court to treat the complaint as a direct claim brought by China Online against the same defendants. The Court refused to so. An issue not raised before the district court is waived on appeal. The Court noted that the plaintiffs failed to raise the argument even after the district court invited supplemental briefs on the issue of derivative actions and dissolved corporations.