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  • New York District Court Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Securities Class Action Against Investment Company, Finding Plaintiffs Sufficiently Alleged Misleading Statements And Omissions In The Company’s Offering Documents
     
    05/17/2022

    On May 4, 2022, Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging, among other things, violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against an investment company (the “Company”), its related entities, and its president and co-founder.  Michael Tecku et al. v. YieldStreet Inc. et al., No. 1:20-cv-07327 (S.D.N.Y May 4, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company “misrepresented material facts about the stability and attractiveness of their investment products in its offering documents” by making misleading statements or omissions in private placement memoranda (“PPMs”) and series notes supplements (“SNSs”).  The Court held that, accepting plaintiffs’ allegations as true, plaintiffs sufficiently alleged securities fraud violations for certain alleged misstatements and omissions.
  • California Appellate Court Affirms Decision To Dismiss Putative Securities Class Action Against Hair Implantation Company Because Of Federal Forum Provision
     
    05/17/2022

    On April 28, 2022, the First Appellate District Court of Appeals for the State of California affirmed the dismissal of putative securities class action against a hair transplant technology company (the “Company”) alleging violations of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “1933 Act”).  Wong v. Restoration Robotics, Inc., A161489 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 28, 2022).  Plaintiff initiated the action in California state court, alleging that the offering documents for the Company’s 2017 initial public offering (“IPO”) contained materially false and misleading statements in violation of the 1933 Act.  The trial court dismissed the complaint on the basis of a federal forum provision (“FFP”) in the Company’s certificate of incorporation.  The Court affirmed, holding that the FFP was enforceable and that the trial court would only have jurisdiction if the Company consented to a different forum, which it had not.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActJurisdiction
  • Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action Against Hotel Chain
     
    05/04/2022

    On April 21, 2022 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously affirmed a district Court’s dismissal of a putative class action against a major hotel chain (the “Company”) for violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5.  In re Marriott Int’l, Inc., No. 21-1802 (4th Cir. Apr. 21, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that the Company failed to disclose data vulnerabilities of a rival hotel company that it acquired in 2016, which rendered the Company’s subsequent public statements regarding its cybersecurity systems and the importance of protecting customer data false or misleading.  Agreeing with the district court that none of the Company’s statements were false or misleading when made, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal.
    CATEGORY : Falsity
  • New York Supreme Court’s Commercial Division Dismisses Securities Act Case
     
    05/04/2022

    On April 20, 2022, Justice Andrew Borrok, a justice of the New York Supreme Court, Commercial Division, dismissed a putative class action against an identity management platform (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters for violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”).  Ret. Bd. of Allegheny Cty. v. Ping Identity Holding Corp., 74 Misc. 3d 1232(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made false and misleading statements and omissions with respect to alleged sales slowdown prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Justice Borrok dismissed the complaint for failure to allege falsity.  As discussed in a prior post, in December 2021, the Administrative Judge for the civil branch of the New York Supreme Court, New York County, issued an administrative order that required that all federal Securities Act cases currently pending or which may be commenced in the future in New York County be assigned to Justice Borrok. This is the first Securities Act case to be dismissed on the merits by Justice Borrok since the administrative order took effect.
    CATEGORY : Securities Act
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses With Prejudice Securities Act Claims For Failure To Allege Actionable Misstatement Or Omission
     
    05/04/2022

    On April 25, 2022, U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman dismissed a putative securities class action alleging that a fintech company (the “Company”) misrepresented its internal control weaknesses and financial results in its prospectus and registration statement (collectively, the “Offering Materials”) in connection with its 2018 initial public offering (the “IPO”) of ADSs in violation of Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933.  Yaroni v. Pintec Technology Holdings Limited et al., No. 20-cv-08062 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 25, 2022).  The Court held that the complaint failed to allege that defendants made misstatements and also that the claims based on certain statements were time-barred.  The Court dismissed the action with prejudice because “the problems with [p]laintiffs’ claims are substantive.”
  • Central District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Software Developer For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity Or Scienter
     
    04/27/2022

    On April 18, 2022, the United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed without prejudice a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a computer game development company and certain of its executives.  Cheng v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., No. 21-cv-6240, slip op. (C.D. Cal. Apr. 18, 2022), ECF No. 75.  Plaintiffs alleged the company made statements that were misleading because they failed to disclose certain government investigations and the prevalence of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination at the company.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to identify any actionable misrepresentations or to adequately raise an inference of scienter but granted plaintiffs leave to replead.
  • Eastern District Of New York Grants Motion To Dismiss Exchange Act Claims Against Airline Company Holding Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Plead Material Misstatements Or Omissions Or Scienter
     
    04/19/2022

    On April 12, 2022, Judge Rachel P. Kovner of the Eastern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, as well as Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act against an airline company (the “Company”) and certain of its officers and directors.  In re GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A. Securities Litigation, No. 1:20-cv-04243-RPK-TAM (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 12, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made materially misleading statements and omissions regarding the Company’s financial strength in an earnings report issued in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite allegedly knowing that its auditor would be issuing a report emphasizing a going concern and raising material weaknesses concerning the Company’s internal controls.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs failed to adequately plead material misstatements or omissions as well as scienter.
  • Southern District Of New York Pares Claims In Putative Class Action Against Telecommunications Company
     
    04/05/2022

    On March 25, 2022, Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil of the Southern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a telecommunications company and certain of its executives.  Solomon v. Sprint Corp., 1:19-cv-05272 (MKV) (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 25, 2022).  Plaintiffs primarily alleged that the company made misrepresentations regarding its reporting of new phone subscriptions and its participation in a government-subsidized discounted phone program.  The Court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged misrepresentations and scienter with respect to statements regarding new subscriptions but held that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege scienter with respect to statements regarding the discounted phone program and concluded that certain other challenged statements were mere puffery.
  • Western District Of Texas Largely Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Information Technology Company
     
    04/05/2022

    On March 30, 2022, Judge Robert Pitman of the Western District of Texas denied the majority of a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an information technology company, certain of its executives, and private equity firms that owned the company’s securities.  In re SolarWinds Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 1:21-CV-138-RP (W.D. Tex. Mar. 30, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that company statements regarding its cybersecurity policies and practices were revealed to be false and misleading upon the disclosure of a security breach.  The Court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged falsity, scienter, and loss causation, except as to the company’s CEO, the allegations as to whom the Court granted plaintiffs leave to replead.
  • Eastern District Of Pennsylvania Declines To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Pharmaceutical Company
     
    04/05/2022

    On March 25, 2022, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania largely denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a pharmaceutical company and certain of its executives.  Halman Aldubi Provident & Pension Funds Ltd. v. Teva Pharm. Indus. Ltd., No. 20-cv-4660-KSM (E.D. Pa. Mar. 25, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations with respect to the reasons one of its drugs was commercially successful.  The Court held that except for allegations against the company’s CFO, plaintiff adequately alleged misrepresentations, scienter, and loss causation.
  • Northern District Of Illinois Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Cosmetics Retailer For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter
     
    04/05/2022

    On March 30, 2022, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed, without prejudice, a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a cosmetics retailer and certain of its executives. Chandler v. Ulta Beauty, Inc., No. 18-CV-1577, 2022 WL 952441, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 30, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made various statements that were misleading because they failed to disclose the company’s alleged practice of reselling used returned products.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to identify any actionable misrepresentations and failed to adequately allege scienter, but granted plaintiffs leave to replead.
  • Southern District Of New York Grants Motion To Dismiss Exchange Act Claims Against Pharmaceutical Company For Alleged Omissions About Drug’s Safety
     
    04/05/2022

    On March 21, 2022, Judge Lewis J. Liman of the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss a claim under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, as well as Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act against a pharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives.  Rice v. Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc., No. 1:21-cv-00036 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 21, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants omitted material information concerning the safety of the Company’s liver disease drug that resulted in a stock drop once alleged corrective disclosures were made.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ first amended complaint (the “FAC”), holding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege material omissions, scienter, or loss causation, but granted plaintiffs leave to replead.
  • Ninth Circuit Affirms Decision Dismissing Investor Class Action Against Social Media Company Because The Company’s Statements Were Not False Or Materially Misleading
     
    04/05/2022

    On March 23, 2022, Judge Kenneth K. Lee of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the Northern District of California’s dismissal of claims brought under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against a social media company (the “Company”) and certain of its executive officers.  Weston Family Partnership LLLP et al. v. Twitter Inc. et al., No. 20-17465 (9th Cir. Mar. 23, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company failed to disclose the scope of software issues that led to a loss in advertising revenue, which ultimately caused the Company’s share price to drop.  The Court affirmed the district court’s order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs failed to state a claim because the Company’s statements were not false or materially misleading.  The Court stated that “[s]ecurities laws . . . do not require real-time business updates or complete disclosure of all material information whenever a company speaks on a particular topic.  To the contrary, a company can speak selectively about its business so long as its statements do not paint a misleading picture.  [The Company]’s statements about its advertising program were not false or misleading because they were qualified and factually true.  The Company had no duty to disclose any more than it did under federal securities law.”
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Global Commercial Electronic Vehicle Company For Failure To Plead Scienter And Loss Causation
     
    03/23/2022

    On March 15, 2022, Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action against a global company that focuses on facilitating the adoption of commercial electronic vehicles (“EV”) through its China-based division (the “Company”) and certain of its directors and officers for violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re Ideanomics Sec. Litig., No. 20 CIV. 4944 (GBD), 2022 WL 784812 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 15, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company’s executives made numerous misstatements about the China-based sales hub (the “Center”) in earnings calls, YouTube interviews, and the press.  The Court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend, holding that although the complaint plausibly alleged misstatements, it failed to allege scienter or loss causation.
  • Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Suit Against Pharmaceutical Company After Failed Clinical Trial
     
    03/23/2022

    On March 11, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of claims under Sections 10(b), 20(a), and 20A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) against a pharmaceutical company (the “Company”).  Arkansas Pub. Emps. Ret. Sys. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., No. 20-3716-CV (2d Cir. Mar. 11, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made material misrepresentations and omissions in describing a clinical trial it conducted on a drug that treated specific types of cancer.  Following a dismissal of plaintiff’s initial complaint without prejudice, a decision previously covered here, the district court subsequently dismissed plaintiffs’ amended complaint with prejudice.  The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiffs failed to allege (i) material misrepresentations or omissions or (ii) facts giving rise to a strong inference of scienter.
  • Southern District Of Ohio Declines To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Energy Company Regarding Alleged Bribery Scheme
     
    03/15/2022

    On March 7, 2022, Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio largely denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) against an energy company, certain of its executives and directors, and certain underwriters of its bond offerings.  In re FirstEnergy Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 2:20-cv-3785 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 7, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company engaged in an anti-competitive scheme that included bribing state officials in exchange for a government bailout of its nuclear power facilities.  The lawsuit relates to the Ohio House Bill 6 scandal, in connection with which Ohio’s former Speaker of the House and others have been arrested on racketeering charges, political strategists and lobbyists have pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy; the company fired certain executives for violating company policies and its code of conduct, and the company entered into a deferred prosecution agreement under which it paid a $230 million penalty and acknowledged having “conspired with public officials and other individuals and entities to pay millions of dollars to and for the benefit of public officials in exchange for specific official action” for the company’s benefit.  The Court held that plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged the various elements of their claims and declined to dismiss any defendant from the case, although the Court dismissed certain claims with respect to certain individual defendants.
  • District Of Colorado Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Chicken Producer For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations
     
    03/15/2022

    On March 8, 2022, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado dismissed with prejudice a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a chicken producer and certain of its executives.  United Food & Com. Workers Int’l Union Local 464A v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., No. 20-CV-01966-RM-MEH, 2022 WL 684169 (D. Colo. Mar. 8, 2022).  The crux of plaintiff’s allegations was that the company made various statements touting its performance and attributing those positive results to factors such as its market position, product portfolio, customer base, and management team; when in fact those results were supposedly inflated by an alleged bid-rigging scheme that was revealed through an indictment by the Department of Justice, in connection with which the company later entered a plea agreement and agreed to pay a criminal fine.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to allege an actionable misrepresentation with respect to any of the challenged statements.
  • Southern District Of New York Pares Claims In Putative Class Action Against Energy Company
     
    03/15/2022

    On March 7, 2022, Judge P. Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a coal mining company and certain of its executives.  In re Peabody Energy Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 20-cv-8024 (PKC), slip op. (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2022), ECF No. 50.  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations concerning its safety practices, a fire that took place at one of its mines, and its ability to subsequently reopen that mine and resume operations.  The Court held that the complaint adequately alleged misrepresentations and scienter with respect to the mine fire but dismissed the remaining challenged statements as non-actionable puffery, protected forward-looking statements, or statements of opinion.
  • Southern District Of New York Denies In Part Motion To Dismiss Securities Act Claims Against Technology Company For Allegedly Misleading Statements About Sales Cycle
     
    03/08/2022

    On February 25, 2022, Judge Gregory H. Woods of the Southern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss claims under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“the Securities Act”) against a technology company (“the Company”) and certain of its officers and directors.  In re Tufin Software Techs. Ltd. Sec. Litig., No. 1:20-cv-05646 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that the registration statement the Company filed in connection with its IPO “included materially misleading misstatements related to, among other things, the length of its sales cycle” and “its training practices.”  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss as to certain of the alleged statements, but denied defendants’ motion to dismiss as to others, finding that plaintiff sufficiently alleged that statements regarding the length of the Company’s sales cycle were “materially misleading to investors.”
  • Eleventh Circuit Overturns Dismissal Of Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme Class Action Suit
     
    03/01/2022

    On February 18, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit unanimously reversed a district court’s dismissal of a putative securities class action against online promoters of a new cryptocurrency coin (the “Promoters”) for violations of Section 12 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”).  Wildes v. BitConnect Int’l PLC, No. 20-11675 (11th Cir. Feb. 18, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the cryptocurrency investment platform (the “Company”) that issued the new cryptocurrency was in fact a Ponzi scheme masquerading as an investment program, and that, as a result of the Company’s scheme, investors suffered more than $2 billion in losses.  In moving to dismiss, the Promoters argued that using online media and videos to make their sales pitches to the public at large—rather than to specific individuals—could not amount to solicitation under the Securities Act.  The district court agreed with the Promoters, dismissing the action with prejudice in November 2019.  On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed, holding that “[a] seller cannot dodge liability through his choice of communications—especially when the [Securities] Act covers ‘any means’ of ‘communication.’”
    CATEGORY : Securities Act
  • District Of Connecticut, On Remand, Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Consumer Financial Services Company
     
    02/24/2022

    On February 11, 2022, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) against a consumer financial services company that issues private-label credit cards and certain of its executives.  In re Synchrony Fin. Sec. Litig., No. 3:18-CV-1818 (VAB), 2022 WL 427499 (D. Conn. Feb. 11, 2022).  As discussed in our prior post the Court had previously dismissed the action in its entirety, including with respect to claims under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”).  The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the dismissal of the Securities Act claims and certain of the Exchange Act claims but remanded for further proceedings regarding one challenged statement—that the company misrepresented the alleged “pushback” it had received from retail partners with respect to its underwriting standards.  Id. at *2.  On remand, the district court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged falsity, scienter, and loss causation with respect to the remaining challenged statement.
  • Northern District Of California Pares Claims In Putative Class Action Against Videoconferencing Company
     
    02/24/2022

    On February 16, 2022, Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a videoconferencing company and certain of its executives.  In re Zoom Sec. Litig., No. 20-cv-02353-JD (N.D. Cal. Feb. 16, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations concerning the level of encryption on its primary videoconferencing product.  The Court held that plaintiff sufficiently alleged falsity, scienter, and loss causation as to the CEO’s challenged statements regarding encryption, but it dismissed claims as to certain other alleged misstatements, and all claims against one executive, for failure to sufficiently allege scienter, while granting leave to amend.
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Securities Short Selling Claims Against Broker-Dealers, Allowing Spoofing Claims To Proceed
     
    02/17/2022

    On February 9, 2022, Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the Southern District of New York denied in part and granted in part a motion to dismiss a securities fraud action asserting claims related to alleged spoofing and short selling under Sections 10(b) and 9(a)(2) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, against broker-dealers, their Canadian affiliates, and unidentified U.S. and Canadian entities, including market makers, subsidiaries, affiliates, sister companies, and customers of the named defendants (collectively, “defendants”).  Harrington Global Opportunity Fund v. CIBC World Markets Corp., 21-CV-761 (LGS) (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 9, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants engaged in spoofing and short selling that caused a healthcare company’s stock, which plaintiff owned, to drop almost 90% over a nine-month period.  The Court denied dismissal of plaintiff’s spoofing claims against certain defendants and granted dismissal of plaintiff’s short selling claims against other defendants.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActScienter
  • Northern District Of California Grants In Part And Denies In Part Class Certification Of Proposed Class Of Purchasers Of Multinational Technology Company’s Securities
     
    02/17/2022

    On February 4, 2022, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part a motion for class certification in a putative class action against a multinational consumer electronics, software, and online services company (the “Company”) and two of its executives alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).  In re Apple Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 4:19-cv-2033-TGR (N.D. Cal. Feb. 4, 2022).  Plaintiff, who sought to represent purchasers of the Company’s publicly traded securities, alleged that in late 2018, the Company made misrepresentations about the state of its business in China, the Company’s most important growth market at the time, which caused the Company’s stock price to fall.  After granting in part and denying in part a motion to dismiss the amended complaint in a decision covered here, the Court granted class certification except as to the inclusion of option holders in the class, finding that the option holders’ damages could not be calculated on a classwide basis with the remaining stockholders.
  • Northern District Of California Denies Motion To Dismiss Exchange Act Claims Against Electric Vehicle Battery Development Company, Holding Plaintiff Adequately Pleaded Misleading Statements, Scienter, And Loss Causation
     
    01/25/2022

    On January 14, 2022, Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5, against a lithium battery development company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives (collectively, “defendants”).  In re Quantumscape Securities Class Action Litigation, No. 3:21-cv-00058-WHO (N.D. Cal. Jan. 14, 2022).  The Company’s “solid-state” battery is an aspiring competitor to conventional lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that the Complaint was adequately plead with the exception of one of the challenged statements that it dismissed.
  • Seventh Circuit Rules Aerospace Company Cannot Use Bylaws To Avoid Federal Securities Claims
     
    01/19/2022

    On January 7, 2022, a split panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of claims under Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) against the current and former officers and directors (the “Defendants”) of a major aerospace company (the “Company”).  Seafarers Pension Plan v. Bradway, No. 20-2244, 2022 WL 70841 (7th Cir. Jan. 7, 2022).  Relying on a bylaw that gave the Company the right to insist that any derivative actions be filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, Defendants obtained a forum non conveniens dismissal in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that the Company’s bylaw could not be applied to Section 14(a) claims, which are subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction.
  • Central District Of California Denies Certification Of Proposed Class Of Unsponsored ADR Purchasers For Lack Of Typicality
     
    01/19/2022

    On January 7, 2022, Judge Dean D. Pregerson of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in a putative class action against a Japanese manufacturer of electronic and energy products and services (the “Company”) alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).  Stoyas v. Toshiba Corp., No. 2:15-CV-04194 DDP-JC (C.D. Cal. Jan. 7, 2022).  Plaintiffs, purchasers of the Company’s unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”), alleged the Company concealed its deliberate use of improper accounting over a period of at least six years to inflate its pre-tax profits by more than $2.6 billion and conceal at least $1.3 billion in impairment losses at its U.S. nuclear business.  In a previous decision in the matter covered here, the Ninth Circuit held that a purchaser of unsponsored ADRs may maintain a cause of action under the Exchange Act so long as the purchaser incurred “irrevocable liability” within the United States to take and pay for a security.  After declining to dismiss an amended complaint in a decision covered here, the Court denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, finding that plaintiffs failed to satisfy the typicality requirement for class certification under Rule 23(a) because, unlike the members of the proposed class, plaintiffs acquired the Company’s securities in Japan.
  • Southern District Of Ohio Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Public Utility Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations
     
    01/11/2022

    On December 20, 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissed a putative class action against a public utility company and certain of its executives under the Securities Exchange Act.  Nickerson v. Am. Elec. Power Co., No. 2:20-cv-4243 (S.D. Ohio Dec. 20, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made various statements regarding prospective energy legislation in Ohio which were misleading because they omitted that the company was actively involved in an alleged lobbying scheme to create that legislation.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege any actionable misrepresentations.
  • Northern District Of California Declines To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Biotechnology Company Because Challenged Statements, Even If “Literally True,” Could Have Misled A Reasonable Investor
     
    01/11/2022

    On December 22, 2021, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California declined to dismiss most of the claims asserted in a putative class action against a biotechnology company, certain of its executives, and the company’s former majority investor under the Securities Exchange Act.  In re Vaxart, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 20-cv-05949-VC (N.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 regarding its efforts to develop a vaccine, and further alleged that the investor engaged in a scheme to inflate the company’s stock price in order to exit its position at a profit.  The Court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged misrepresentations and scienter as against the company and its executives named as individual defendants but dismissed the claims against the investor.
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Social Media Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Scienter, Loss Causation
     
    01/11/2022

    On December 20, 2021, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a putative class action against a social media company and certain of its executives under the Securities Exchange Act.  In re Facebook, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 5:18-CV-01725-EJD, 2021 WL 6000058 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 20, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations relating to a data breach and with respect to users’ control of their data.  The Court previously dismissed plaintiffs’ prior two complaints but granted leave to replead.  Addressing plaintiffs’ third amended complaint, the Court held that plaintiffs still failed to adequately allege scienter for the data breach allegations and loss causation for the allegations about control of user data, and therefore dismissed the action without leave to replead.
    CATEGORIES : Loss CausationScienter
  • All New York County Federal Securities Act Cases Assigned To Justice Andrew Borrok
     
    01/11/2022

    On December 30, 2021, the Administrative Judge for the civil branch of the New York Supreme Court, New York County, issued an administrative order concerning actions filed in New York County pursuant to the federal Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”).  The order requires that all such actions that are currently pending or which may be commenced in the future in New York County shall be assigned to Justice Andrew Borrok, a justice of the Commercial Division.
    CATEGORY : Securities Act
  • First Circuit Revives Putative Class Action Against Software Company
     
    01/11/2022

    On December 22, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims against a software company and certain of its current and former executives under the Securities Exchange Act.  Constr. Indus. and Laborers Jt. Pension Tr. v. Carbonite, Inc., —F.4th—, 2021 WL 6062622 (1st Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company misleadingly touted the capabilities of a new cloud-based data backup product, even though defendants knew that the product did not work.  The district court dismissed the action for failure to adequately allege scienter, but the First Circuit reversed, holding that plaintiffs adequately alleged scienter and that the challenged statements were actionable.
  • Southern District Of New York Rules That Defendant Failed To Rebut Basic  Presumption Of Reliance And Grants Motion For Class Certification For Third Time
     
    12/21/2021

    On December 8, 2021, Judge Paul A. Crotty of the United States District Court for Southern District of New York granted a motion for class certification in a securities fraud class action against a global financial institution (the “Company”) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 10-3461 (PAC) (Dec. 8, 2021).  This is the third time the District Court has granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in this case, following several decisions by the Second Circuit and the Supreme Court.
  • Northern District Of California Grants Motion To Dismiss With Prejudice Securities Act Claims Against Technology Company, Holding Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Plead Misleading Disclosures In Company’s Registration Statement Related To Merger
     
    12/21/2021

    On December 14, 2021, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California granted a motion to dismiss claims brought under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“the Securities Act”) against a technology company (“the Company”), its controlling shareholder, and several of the Company’s and the controlling shareholder’s officers and directors.  Costanzo v. DXC Tech. Co., N.D. Cal., No. 19-cv-05794 (Dec. 14, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged defendants made false and misleading statements, in the Company’s prospectus and registration statement (the “Registration Statement”), regarding expected budget cuts in light of an alleged internal goal at the Company to cut more than double the disclosed amount.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ Third Amended Complaint (“TAC”) without leave to amend, holding that plaintiffs’ addition of allegations of purported statements by confidential witnesses were insufficient to overcome the deficiencies in their pleadings.
    CATEGORIES : PSLRASecurities Act
  • Second Circuit Vacates And Remands Dismissal Of Exchange Act Claims Against Food Manufacturer, Holding The District Court Erred In Its Interpretation Of Exchange Act Claim Requirements
     
    12/21/2021

    On December 17, 2021, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded for reconsideration the dismissal by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York of a putative securities class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5(b) promulgated thereunder, against a health food product manufacturing company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives, for alleged misstatements regarding the Company’s sales and internal controls.  In re: The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 20-1517 (2d Cir. Dec. 17, 2021).  The late District Judge Arthur Spatt granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, with prejudice, the Second Amended Complaint (the “SAC”), holding that plaintiffs failed to allege a fraudulent scheme or business practice in violation of the terms of Rule 10b-5(a)-(c), and further failed to sufficiently plead scienter.  Plaintiffs appealed the district court’s dismissal with respect to their Rule 10b-5(b) claims.  The Second Circuit vacated the dismissal, holding that the district court erred in finding that plaintiffs’ Rule 10b-5(b) claim relied on plaintiffs’ pleading a fraudulent business scheme or plan.
  • Central District Of California Dismisses With Prejudice Putative Class Action Against Canadian Cannabis Manufacturer
     
    12/21/2021

    On December 8, 2021, Judge Philip S. Gutierrez of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed, with prejudice, a suit against a Canadian cannabis manufacturer (the “Company”), alleging that the Company failed to disclose material information about its facilities in Colombia and its transactions with other companies in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re Pharmacielo Ltd. Sec. Litig., No. 20-2182-PSG (C.D. Cal. Dec. 8, 2021).  Plaintiffs—whose complaint was once dismissed—amended their complaint to bolster their allegations based on an assortment of Company statements regarding its facilities and expansion plans that plaintiffs alleged were designed to artificially inflate the Company’s stock price.  The Court dismissed the amended complaint for failure to plead falsity or materiality and did so with prejudice because any amendments would be futile based on their “failed attempt to remedy” the deficiencies of the prior complaint.
  • Central District Of California Denies In Substantial Part Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Suit Against Electric Vehicle Manufacturer
     
    12/21/2021

    On December 2, 2021, Judge Cormac J. Carney of the United Stated District Court for the Central District of California denied, in substantial part, a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action against an electric truck manufacturer (the “Company”) for allegedly misleading investors by overhyping its production capabilities and its prospects for winning a multibillion-dollar contract to revamp the U.S. Postal Service’s (“USPS”) delivery fleet in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Farrar v. Workhorse Grp., Inc., No. 2:21-cv-02072 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 2, 2021).   Plaintiff alleged the Company made false and misleading statements in 2020 and early 2021 about the viability of the Company’s bid for the USPS contract and the Company’s “backlog” of customer orders.  Plaintiff also alleged the Company made misrepresentations regarding its use of Payroll Protection Program (“PPP”) funds provided by the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Court denied the Company’s motion to dismiss on all but the PPP claims.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActFalsity
  • Second Circuit Revives Putative Class Action, Finding Material Misstatements Adequately Alleged In Connection With Going-Private Transaction
     
    12/08/2021

    On November 24, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an internet company and one of its directors.  Altimeo Asset Mgmt. v. Qihoo 360 Tech. Co. Ltd., —F.4th—, 2021 WL 5499455 (2d Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company, which was headquartered in China and had previously had depository shares listed in the United States, made misrepresentations and omissions in connection with the shareholder buyout that took the company private by failing to disclose the company’s alleged intent to relist in China.  The district court dismissed the action but the Second Circuit vacated that dismissal, holding that plaintiffs adequately alleged facts from which an inference could be drawn that the company “must have been planning to relist [in China] at the time of the shareholder vote.”  Id. at *1.
  • Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action For Failure To Adequately Allege Scienter
     
    12/08/2021

    On December 1, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an information technology company and certain of its executives.  KBC Asset Mgt. NV v. DXC Tech. Co., —F.4th—, 2021 WL 5626377 (4th Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs claimed that the company made misrepresentations regarding its financial health, which plaintiffs alleged were false because the company had undertaken cost-cutting measures that undermined its ability to meet its revenue projections.  The district court dismissed the action and the Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege scienter.
    CATEGORY : Scienter
  • District Of Delaware Dismisses Suit Against Wireless Technology Company For Failure To Plead Actionable Misstatement
     
    11/24/2021

    On November 15, 2021, Judge Richard G. Andrews of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware dismissed a derivative suit against a company that provides hardware, software, and services for wireless technology (the “Company”), alleging the Company violated Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and breached its fiduciary duty by allegedly allowing “unlawful and discriminatory practices to proliferate at the Company.”  Kiger v. Mollenkopf, No. 21-409-RGA (D. Del. Nov. 15, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made misrepresentations in 2019 and 2020 proxy statements about its commitment to diversify its board of directors (the “Board”).  The Court dismissed the complaint for failure to plead an actionable misstatement or omission and for failure to plead demand futility.
  • Northern District Of Illinois Eastern Division Grants In Part Drugstore Chain’s Motion For Summary Judgment In Connection With Securities Class Action Lawsuit
     
    11/09/2021

    On November 2, 2021, Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division granted in part defendants’ motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiff’s partial motion for summary judgment in a securities class action asserting claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) against a retail drugstore chain (the “Company”) and two of its former senior executives.  Washtenaw County Employees' Retirement System v. Walgreen Co. et al., No. 15-cv-03187 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 2, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged defendants made materially false and misleading statements concerning the Company’s earnings before interest and taxes (“EBIT”) projections and its ability to meet it.  The Court granted in part defendants’ motion for summary judgment, holding that one of the alleged misstatements was a non-actionable forward-looking statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act’s (“PSLRA”) safe harbor, that defendants proved the truth of certain alleged misstatements, but that triable issues of material fact remained with respect to a number of other alleged misstatements.  The Court denied plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment regarding one of the individual defendant’s intent to deceive, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the falsity of that defendant’s statements and is therefore a question for the jury.
  • Northern District Of California Denies Class Certification For Failure To Demonstrate Commonality As To Reliance
     
    11/03/2021

    On October 27, 2021, Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in a putative class action against a major financial services company (the “Company”) alleging violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Crago v. Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., No. 16-CV-03938-RS (N.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company stated that it adhered to the duty of “best execution” without disclosing key information about an agreement (the “Agreement”) to route most of its customers' retail trade orders to a particular vendor (the “Vendor”) without verifying that the Vendor was providing best execution.  The Court previously dismissed an earlier complaint in this action, in a decision that was covered here.  After declining to dismiss an amended complaint, the Court denied plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, finding that plaintiffs were not entitled to a presumption of reliance and that individualized proof of reliance was therefore required.  This defeated the commonality requirements of Rule 23(a).
  • Northern District Of California Narrows Claims In Putative Securities Class Action Against Pharmaceutical Company
     
    10/26/2021

    On October 19, 2021, Chief Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California narrowed the claims in a putative securities class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a pharmaceutical company and certain of its executives.  Sheet Metal Works Nat’l Pension Fund v. Bayer AG, No. 20-cv-4737, slip op. (N.D. Cal. Oct. 19, 2021), ECF No. 90.  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations relating to its acquisition of Monsanto.  The Court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged actionable misrepresentations and scienter with respect to only some of the challenged statements, and further held that plaintiffs adequately alleged loss causation for those statements.
  • Eighth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Securities Class Action For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter
     
    10/26/2021

    On October 18, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa dismissing a putative securities class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a media company and certain of its executives.  City of Plantation Police Officers Pension Fund v. Meredith Corp., –F.4th–, 2021 WL 4823411 (8th Cir. 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations in connection with the expected benefits from its acquisition of a magazine publisher.  The district court dismissed the action with prejudice, holding that all but one of the challenged statements was not sufficiently alleged to be false, and that scienter was not adequately alleged for the remaining statement.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed.
  • District Of Minnesota Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Industrial Chemical Manufacturer Related To Environmental Litigation
     
    10/13/2021

    On September 30, 2021, Judge Nancy E. Brasel of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action against an industrial chemical manufacturer (the “Company”) and certain of its officers alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  In re 3M Co. Sec. Litig., No. 19-CV-2488 (D. Minn. Sept. 30, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company downplayed its potential legal and financial exposure over its production and disposal of toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) by failing to estimate the contingent losses associated with the Company’s PFAS liabilities.  The Court dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to plead an actionable misrepresentation or allegations sufficient to support a strong inference of scienter.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActFalsityScienter
  • New Jersey District Court Denies Motion To Dismiss Opt-Out Action
     
    10/06/2021

    On September 30, 2021, Judge Katherine S. Hayden of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey denied a motion to dismiss an “opt-out” action arising from a pending class action that asserts claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a pharmaceutical company, certain of its executives, and alleged “co-conspirators,” in connection with an alleged price-fixing scheme for generic drugs.  TIAA-CREF Large-Cap Growth Fund v. Allergan PLC, No. 17-CV-11089-KSH-CLW, 2021 WL 4473156 (D.N.J. Sept. 30, 2021).  The opt-out action also added claims under the Securities Act of 1933 and related to an illegal “market allocation” scheme.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the opt-out action, holding that the action was timely and that scienter was adequately alleged.
  • District Of Maryland Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Pharmaceutical Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations And Scienter
     
    10/06/2021

    On September 29, 2021, Judge George J. Hazel of the District of Maryland dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Act of 1933 and Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a pharmaceutical company and certain of its executives.  Employees’ Retirement System of the City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge v. Macrogenics, Inc., No. GJH-19-2713, slip op. (D. Md. Sept. 29, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants made misrepresentations regarding clinical trials for a drug that was “critically important” to the company.  The Court dismissed the action for failure to adequately allege misrepresentations or scienter.
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Cannabis Company For Failure To Allege Scienter
     
    10/06/2021

    On September 27, 2021, Judge Paul Crotty of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a cannabis company and its CEO and CFO.  Kasilingam v. Tilray, Inc., No. 20-CV-03459 (PAC), 2021 WL 4429788 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 27, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged defendants made material misrepresentations that inflated the company’s stock price ahead of a planned share exchange.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege scienter and dismissed the action but granted plaintiffs leave to amend to attempt to cure the deficiencies in their complaint.
    CATEGORY : Scienter
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Action Against Cannabis Company For Failure To Sufficiently Allege Misrepresentations, Scienter
     
    10/06/2021

    On September 30, 2021, Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. of the Southern District of New York dismissed an action asserting claims under the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and common law claims for breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and negligent misrepresentation against a cannabis company and certain of its executives.  SUN, A Series Of E Squared Investment Fund, LLC, et al. v. Sundial Growers Inc., et al., No. 1:20-cv-03579 (ALC), slip op. (Sept. 30, 2021).  Plaintiffs were investors that allegedly acquired convertible notes prior to the company’s initial public offering (“IPO”) and later converted those notes into shares shortly after the IPO, with one also purporting to receive shares in the IPO itself.  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants provided misleading information about a target entity that the company was on the verge of acquiring.  The Court dismissed the action, holding that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that the challenged statements were materially misleading in context at the time they were made, and that plaintiffs also failed to adequately allege scienter.
  • District Of New Jersey Denies Motion For Judgment On The Pleadings Involving Securities Act Claims Against Accounting Firm, Holding Plaintiffs Are Not Required To Plead Damages As An Element Of A Section 11 Claim
     
    09/29/2021

    On September 21, 2021, Judge Michael A. Shipp of the District of New Jersey overruled an objection to a special master’s report and recommendation to deny a motion for judgment on the pleadings concerning claims under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against an accounting firm (the “Firm”).  In re Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl., Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 15-7658 (MAS) (LHG) (D. N.J. Sept. 21, 2021).  We previously covered the district court’s decision denying a motion to dismiss by other defendants in this action.  The Firm is the only defendant left in a purported class action lawsuit related to a pharmaceutical company’s public offering in 2015.  The Court agreed with the special master’s findings, among other things, that plaintiff was not required to plead damages for a Section 11 claim at the pleading stage.
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