Yucaipa Cos.’ Ron Burkle lost a bid to invalidate Barnes & Noble Inc.’s poison pill anti-takeover defense in his effort to gain more shares and install candidates on the bookseller’s board.

Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine Jr. decided in an 87-page opinion Thursday that the company’s policy was a justifiable defense mechanism.

Yucaipa sued New York-based Barnes & Noble, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, in May, saying Chairman Leonard Riggio and other directors engineered a “self-dealing scheme designed to entrench the Riggio family” and stop Burkle from gaining control of board seats. Yucaipa this week filed a proxy contest to replace three Barnes & Noble board members who are up for re-election next month, including Riggio.

Burkle is one of the candidates, along with Stephen Bollenbach, chairman of Los Angeles-based KB Home, and Michael S. McQuary, chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Wheego Electric Cars Inc.

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