John D. Guynn

Staff Attorney

  • Roanoke College
    B.A., English/Written Communications 1995
  • Widener University School of Law
    J.D. 2001, Phi Delta Phi
  • Pennsylvania

John Derek Guynn, a staff attorney of the Firm, is a former Insurance Defense Attorney and Public Defender as well as solo practitioner. 

Derek has extensive trial and litigation experience in the Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania, as well as in mass tort, class action, and multi-district litigation.

Ongoing Cases
  • Kessler Topaz is co-lead counsel for an individual investor and Chester County Employees’ Retirement Fund on behalf of a class of Common Unitholders of Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. arising out of ETE’s creation of Series A Convertible Preferred Units.

    ETE is the general partner of several oil-and-gas pipeline limited partnerships, and it has common limited partnership units that trade on the NYSE. The lawsuit challenges ETE’s February 2016 determination to make a discriminatory distribution of the Convertible Preferred Units to members of ETE’s management and other insiders, including the partnership’s chairman Kelcy Warren, as well as to selected other limited partners, including friends and family members of ETE’s management. The Convertible Preferred Units, issued when ETE was publicly considering a distribution cut in the event that its then-contemplated merger with The Williams Companies was consummated and the market price reflected investors’ uncertainty regarding the merger, insulate the recipients of those units from the effects of such a cut, guaranteeing them a minimum per-quarter cash distribution. The Convertible Preferred Units also accrue additional monetary value each quarter that, in May 2018, will be converted into additional ETE common units, at a price that was a discount to the already historically low market price for ETE common units in February 2016. The net effect operates as a massive transfer of wealth from the common unitholders to the selected few ETE insiders and others who received the Convertible Preferred Units, regardless of a distribution cut. Ultimately, ETE was able to terminate the merger with Williams, and the common unit price has nearly tripled since then, further enhancing the Convertible Preferred Units’ value. Our lawsuit contends, generally, that the distribution of the Convertible Preferred Units to these selected insiders and others violated ETE’s limited partnership agreement – which governs the relationship among ETE, its management, and its investors holding common units – and we seek to invalidate them before conversion in May 2018. Trial is scheduled for February 2018.

Representative Outcomes
  • On August 27, 2015, Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster issued his much-anticipated post-trial verdict in litigation by former stockholders of Dole Food Company against Dole’s chairman and controlling stockholder David Murdock.

    In a 106-page ruling, Vice Chancellor Laster found that Murdock and his longtime lieutenant, Dole’s former president and general counsel C. Michael Carter, unfairly manipulated Dole’s financial projections and misled the market as part of Murdock’s efforts to take the company private in a deal that closed in November 2013. Among other things, the Court concluded that Murdock and Carter “primed the market for the freeze-out by driving down Dole’s stock price” and provided the company’s outside directors with “knowingly false” information and intended to “mislead the board for Mr. Murdock’s benefit.”

    Vice Chancellor Laster found that the $13.50 per share going-private deal underpaid stockholders, and awarded class damages of $2.74 per share, totaling $148 million. That award represents the largest post-trial class recovery in the merger context. The largest post-trial derivative recovery in a merger case remains Kessler Topaz’s landmark 2011 $2 billion verdict in In re Southern Peru.


Charles C. Wise Poet, Roanoke College, 1994, 1995