Byline: Derek Hawkins
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: Robert Lowinger, et al. v. Douglas R. Oberhelman, et al.
Case No.: 18-1863
Officials: WOOD, Chief Judge, and MANION and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Breach of Fiduciary Duty
In the fall of 2011 Caterpillar Inc. began making serious inquiries about the possible acquisition of a Chinese mining company, ERA Mining Machinery Ltd., and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Zhengzhou Siwei Mechanical & Electrical Equipment Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (We refer to the two companies as "Siwei" for simplicity.) Caterpillar completed that acquisition in June 2012. Only after the closing did Caterpillar gain access to Siwei's physical inventory. What it found was unsettling. An inspection of the inventory revealed that Siwei had overstated its profits and improperly recognized revenue. As a result, Caterpillar took a $580 million goodwill impairment charge just months after the acquisition was completed. Plaintiffs Robert Lowinger and Issek Fuchs, both Caterpillar shareholders, now bring this shareholder derivative suit alleging that several former Caterpillar officers breached their fiduciary duties by failing to conduct an adequate investigation of the Siwei acquisition. (We call them...