Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2021
Commitments and Contingencies  
Commitments and Contingencies

(10) Commitments and Contingencies

General Litigation

The Company has contingent liabilities related to legal and tax proceedings and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business. Although it is reasonably possible the Company may incur losses upon conclusion of such matters, an estimate of any loss or range of loss cannot be made. In the opinion of management, it is expected that amounts, if any, which may be required to satisfy such contingencies will not be material in relation to the accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements.

Hollywood Firefighters’ Pension Fund, et al. v. GCI Liberty, Inc., et al. On October 9, 2020, a putative class action complaint was filed by two purported GCI Liberty stockholders in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware under the caption Hollywood Firefighters’ Pension Fund, et al. v. GCI Liberty, Inc., et al., Case No. 2020-0880. A new version of the complaint was filed on October 11, 2020. The complaint named as defendants GCI Liberty, as well as the members of the GCI Liberty board of directors. The complaint alleged, among other things, that Mr. Gregory B. Maffei, a director and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Broadband and, prior to the Combination, GCI Liberty, and Mr. John C. Malone, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Liberty Broadband and, prior to the Combination, GCI Liberty, in their purported capacities as controlling stockholders and directors of GCI Liberty, and the other directors of GCI Liberty, breached their fiduciary duties by approving the Combination. The complaint also alleged that various prior and current relationships among members of the GCI Liberty special committee, Mr. Malone and Mr. Maffei rendered the members of the GCI Liberty special committee not independent.

The complaint sought certification of a class action, declarations that Messrs. Maffei and Malone and the other directors of GCI Liberty breached their fiduciary duties and the recovery of damages and other relief.

On December 23, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint, which, among other things, included a new count of breach of fiduciary duty against Mr. Maffei and Mr. Gregg Engles, the other former member of the GCI Liberty

special committee, and new allegations that the price of GCI Liberty was depressed as a result of statements and omissions by Mr. Maffei in November of 2019.  During the first quarter of 2021, the parties were conducting discovery with the trial scheduled for November 2021.  We believed the lawsuit was without merit.  

During March 2021 and in advance of the expenditure of significant time and costs to conduct the depositions proposed to have been taken in this action, the parties began negotiations for a potential settlement of this action. On May 5, 2021, the plaintiffs (on behalf of themselves and other members of a proposed settlement class) and defendants entered into an agreement in principle to settle the litigation pursuant to which the parties agreed that the plaintiffs will dismiss their claims with prejudice, with customary releases, in return for a settlement payment of $110 million, which has been accrued as a current liability in the condensed consolidated balance sheet and recorded as a litigation settlement expense within operating income in the condensed consolidated statements of operations. During the third quarter of 2021, the Company made a payment of $110 million to an escrow account in accordance with the settlement agreement, which has been recorded as restricted cash in other current assets in the condensed consolidated balance sheet. On June 17, 2021, the parties filed a Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement, Compromise, and Release.  On June 30, 2021, the Court preliminarily certified, solely for purposes of effectuating the proposed settlement, the action as a non-opt out class action on behalf of a settlement class consisting of all holders of GCI Liberty Series A common stock as of December 18, 2020.  The Court set a settlement hearing for October 5, 2021, to determine whether to permanently certify the class, whether the proposed settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate to the settlement class, and whether to enter a judgment dismissing the action with prejudice, among other things.  On October 18, 2021, subsequent to that hearing, the Court issued a final order permanently certifying the Class and approving the settlement.  The Court also awarded Plaintiffs’ Counsel $22 million in attorneys’ fees, which shall be paid out of the settlement fund.  Plaintiffs have also requested that the Court issue an additional fee award of $22 million, not to be paid out of the settlement fund, in connection with a certain claim that was mooted earlier in the case.  Defendants have opposed that motion, and the Court has not yet ruled on the amount of any additional fee award.

In addition, during the three months ended September 30, 2021, the Company agreed to final settlement amounts with all five of its insurance carriers for insurance recoveries of $24.5 million, which is recorded net of the litigation settlement expense on the condensed consolidated statement of operations.