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Delaware judge dismisses Berkshire shareholder suit

WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware judge has dismissed a shareholder lawsuit alleging that billionaire Warren Buffett and directors of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. failed to take proper action in response stock trades by former Berkshire executive David Sokol before the company’s $9 billion acquisition of chemical manufacturer Lubrizol.

The judge ruled Monday that the shareholders failed to demonstrate before filing their lawsuit, as required by Delaware law, that the Berkshire board was not capable or willing to take legal action itself.

But the judge dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs might be able file a complaint later if circumstances warrant.

The derivative lawsuit sought damages on behalf of Berkshire from Sokol and the company’s directors, and surrender by Sokol of some $3 million in profit he realized in the Lubrizol takeover.