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VAN GEMERT v. BOEING CO.

September 26, 1966

William R. VAN GEMERT, Albert A. Henning, Edward E. Houchins, Nathan Pearlman, Elias A. Chariott, for and in behalf of themselves and for all other holders of The Boeing Company 4 1/2% convertible subordinated debentures due July 1, 1980 who are similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
The BOEING COMPANY (formerly Boeing Airplane Company), et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RYAN

RYAN, Chief Judge.

 This proceeding initiated by the defendant The Boeing Company (formerly Boeing Airplane Company) seeking the entry of an order determining that this action is to be maintained as a class action under Rule 23(b)(1) and (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, effective July 1, 1966.

 The matter comes on for hearing on the return of an order directing "that all present and former holders of The Boeing Company (formerly Boeing Airplane Company) 4 1/2% convertible subordinated debentures, due July 1, 1980 and called for redemption on April 8, 1966, whose debentures were not surrendered for conversion on or before March 29, 1966, show cause, (a) why an order should not be entered determining that this action is to be maintained as a class action under Rule 23(b)(1) and (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for and on behalf of the aforesaid class, (b) why said debentureholders should not be permitted to appear and intervene in this action and present claims, if any, or (c) why said debentureholders should not be included in the class for and on whose behalf the action is maintained and in the final judgment in said action whether favorable to said class or not."

 Due notice of the issuance of the order to show cause dated July 21, 1966 was given, as directed by said order to the attorneys of record in the several actions then pending filed on behalf of holders of the said Boeing Company convertible subordinated debentures, to wit, Harold M. White, et al. v. The Boeing Company, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Civil Action No. 66 C 977; Gertrude McNaught, et al. v. The Boeing Company, pending, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Civil Action No. 66 C 979; Dr. Jack Diener v. The Boeing Company, pending in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 1290-'66; Douglas W. MacMillan v. The Boeing Company, pending in Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, No. 886233; Dennis J. Finn v. The Boeing Company pending in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in and for Dade County, common law No. 66 L 2396. *fn1"

 Notice of the order to show cause and of its return date was given also to all present and former debentureholders whose address "may be known to the defendants" and by publication twice a week for two successive weeks commencing not later than the week of July 25, 1966 in the national editions of The New York Times and of The Wall Street Journal.

 We first direct our attention to the factual background of these actions. Many of the basic facts giving rise to this litigation are of historical record. Thus, it appears as undisputed that:

 In 1958 the Boeing Company issued and sold 4 1/2% Convertible Subordinated Debentures due July 1, 1980, in the principal amount of $30,597,600. The debentures were offered to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 15, 1958; each shareholder was given the right to subscribe in the ratio of $100 principal amount of debentures for each 23 shares of capital stock held on the record date. Certain underwriters identified in a prospectus dated July 15, 1958, undertook to purchase any debentures which were unsubscribed at the expiration of the subscription offer on July 29, 1958.

 The debentures were unsecured obligations bearing interest from July 29, 1958, at 4 1/2%, payable semi-annually on January 1 and July 1. They were issued in both coupon and fully registered form and the coupon debentures could, at the option of the holder, be registered as to principal only.

 The debentures were issued under an indenture dated July 1, 1958, between Boeing and The Chase Manhattan Bank, Trustee. On June 25, 1958, Boeing filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission and a copy of the indenture was included as an exhibit to such registration statement. The Securities and Exchange Commission on July 15, 1958, ordered that the registration statement become effective.

 In addition to a general incorporation of the indenture terms, the debentures also called the debentureholders' attention to the expiration of the conversion rights ten days prior to the redemption date and specifically incorporated by reference the indenture provisions relating to the notice of redemption. The debentures provided:

 
"The holder of this Debenture is entitled, at his option, at any time on or before July 1, 1980, or in case this Debenture shall be called for redemption prior to such date, then to and including but not after the tenth day prior to the redemption date, to convert this. Debenture * * * at the principal amount hereof * * * into shares of Capital Stock of the Company, at the conversion rate of two shares of Capital Stock for each $100 principal amount of Debentures * * *. The Debentures are subject to redemption * * * at any time or times, at the option of the Company, on not less than 30 nor more than 90 days' prior notice, as provided in the Indenture (at specified redemption prices) * * *."

 The redemption price of the debentures at the date of the call was $103.25 for each $100 face value debenture.

 The indenture provided in Section 5.02 for notice of redemption as follows:

 
"SECTION 5.02 Notice of Redemption; Partial Redemptions. In case the Company shall desire to exercise the right to redeem all or any part of the Debentures, as the case maybe, pursuant to Section 5.01, it shall publish prior to the date fixed for redemption a notice of such redemption at least twice in an Authorized Newspaper, the first such publication to be not less than 30 days and not more than 90 days before the date fixed for redemption. Such publication shall be in successive weeks but on any day of the week. It shall not be necessary for more than one such publication to be made in the same newspaper. A copy of such notice shall be mailed by the Company at least 30 days prior to such redemption date to the holders of the registered Debentures without coupons and the holders of the coupon Debentures registered as to the principal so to be redeemed at their last addresses as they shall appear upon the ...

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