With media demand for her expertise already soaring thanks to the Twitter-Elon Musk saga, Tulane Law Professor Ann Lipton is now a most-wanted expert to explain the recent fight between Ben & Jerry’s and its corporate parent, Unilever, over ice cream sales in Israeli settlements.
Appearing in The Wall Street Journal, Haaretz and The New York Times, among other outlets, Lipton has tried to explain to viewers and readers just how unusual it is for a company’s board to sue its owner, even in her own blog.
“Unprecedented doesn’t begin to describe it,” Lipton told The Wall Street Journal.
The latest corporate skirmish involves a decision by ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, which is wholly owned by Unilever, to stop selling its products in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and parts of East Jerusalem, saying the sales were “inconsistent with its brand values.”
Parent company Unilever responded by selling the brand’s Israeli business, and Ben & Jerry’s board – made up of seven independent board members and two representing Unilever – sued. The case was heard by a judge Monday who will decide whether Ben & Jerry's deserved a temporary injunction barring the new local licensee from selling new or rebranded products.
According to WSJ, “the independent board members said in the court filing that the sale was made without their approval and deprived them of their rights to preserve the social mission of the company and safeguard the brand name.”
Lipton has become one of the most prominent expert voices in the ongoing saga between Tesla CEO and mercurial entrepreneur Elon Musk and the social media giant, Twitter. She spent the summer as a leading expert quoted or on-air in such outlets as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNBC, CNN, and NPR.
Lipton, the Michael Fleischman Associate Professor in Business Law & Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean for Faculty Research at Tulane Law, is an experienced securities and corporate litigator who has handled class actions involving some of the world’s largest companies before she joined the Tulane Law faculty in 2015. Her area of expertise is corporate governance and the relationship between corporations and investors.
At Tulane, she is the founder and organizer of the annual Tulane Securities and Corporate Law Roundtable, now in its seventh year. The roundtable, coordinated with the larger Tulane Corporate Law Institute held each spring, draws about a dozen of the country’s top corporate and securities scholars to campus for a daylong discussion of emerging scholarship examining corporate governance and the securities markets.
Lipton is one of two former U.S. Supreme Court clerks at Tulane Law School; she clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. She also clerked for 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edward Becker before handling securities and corporate litigation at the trial and appellate levels at law firms in New York City. She also worked briefly for the Securities and Exchange Commission.