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  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Suit Against Financial Technology Company That Underscores The Challenges Plaintiffs Face When Predicating Securities Claims On The Disclosure Of A Regulatory Investigation
     
    08/16/2022

    On August 8, 2022, Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted a motion to dismiss a proposed securities class action suit against a financial technology company (the “Company”) and four of its executives alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Huei-Ting Kang v. PayPal Holdings Inc., No. 3:21-cv-06468 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 8, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company misled investors about its compliance with (1) a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) Consent Order (the “Consent Order”) prohibiting deceptive marketing of the company’s revolving line of credit; and (2) the Federal Reserve Board’s Regulation II, which caps debit card interchange fees.  The Court’s dismissal of the complaint (with leave to amend) is a reminder of the challenges plaintiffs face when trying to assert securities claims in the wake of company announcements of regulatory investigations.
  • Illinois District Court Grants In Part And Denies In Part Insurance Company’s Motion For Summary Judgment In Putative Securities Fraud Lawsuit
     
    08/03/2022

    On July 26, 2022, Judge Robert W. Gettleman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division granted in part and denied in part a motion for summary judgment in a securities fraud class action against an insurance company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives.  In re The Allstate Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 16-C-10510 (N.D. Ill. July 26, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants violated Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, by making material misstatements and omissions regarding a spike in the frequency of automobile policy claims, which plaintiffs alleged had a negative impact on the Company’s financial condition and stock price.
  • Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Exchange Act Claim Against Owner Of Options Exchange, Finding Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Plead Scienter
     
    08/03/2022

    On July 27, 2022, a unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissing a putative securities fraud class action asserting a claim under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, as well as claims under the Commodities Exchange Act, against an options and futures exchange company (the “Company”).  Brian Barry, et al. v. CBOE Global Markets, Inc., et al., No. 20-1843 (7th Cir. July 27, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company violated the Exchange Act by trading options and futures based on an index it created (“VIX”) that was designed to estimate the near-term volatility in the S&P 500 Index, but allegedly was subject to market manipulation by unknown traders (the “Doe Defendants”) soon after its creation.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims, holding that plaintiffs failed to plead scienter.
    CATEGORIES : CommoditiesExchange ActScienter
  • Northern District Of California Largely Denies Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Class Action Against Biopharmaceutical Company
     
    07/28/2022

    On July 15, 2022, Judge Edward M. Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California largely denied a motion to dismiss a securities fraud class action against a biopharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and certain of its officers alleging violations of Sections 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re FibroGen, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 21-cv-02623-EMC (N.D. Cal. July 15, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made 96 false and misleading statements concerning the “safety and efficacy data of its flagship drug.”  Although the Court held that a handful of the misstatements were not actionable for failure to adequately allege falsity, the Court otherwise denied the motion to dismiss.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActFalsityPSLRAScienter
  • Central District Of California Dismisses With Prejudice Suit Against Children’s Cartoon Company And Finds That The Complaint Violated Rule 8 Of The Federal Rules Of Civil Procedure
     
    07/28/2022

    On July 15, 2022, the United States District Court for the Central District of California granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action against a children’s cartoon company (the “Company”) and certain of its officers alleging violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In Re Genius Brands Int’l, Inc. Sec. Litig., CV 20-7457 DSF (RAOx) (C.D. Cal. July 15, 2022).  In a second amended complaint, plaintiffs alleged that the Company made materially false and misleading statements and omissions about the Company’s engagement of a stock promotion company, an impending acquisition by Disney or Netflix, and its economic resilience in the face of COVID-19, among other topics.  The Court dismissed the claims with prejudice for failure to adequately plead falsity or materiality, and further held that the complaint of 289 paragraphs and 84 pages violated Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that requires a “short and plain statement” of the claims.
  • Northern District Of California Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities And Exchange Act Claims Against Mobile Gaming Technology Company Holding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Plead Falsity, Scienter, Loss Causation, Or Material Misstatements Or Omissions
     
    07/12/2022

    On July 5, 2022, Chief Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California granted motions to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), Rule 10b-5 thereunder, Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act, and Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”), against a mobile gaming technology company (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters.  Jedrzejczyk, et al. v. Skillz Inc., et al., No. 21-cv-03450-RS (N.D. Cal. July 5, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made material misstatements and omissions regarding the Company’s financial condition, technical capabilities, and business prospects.  The Court granted defendants’ motions to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs failed to adequately plead falsity, scienter, or loss causation as to the Exchange Act claims, and that plaintiffs had not established standing or adequately pled material untrue statements or omissions as to the Securities Act claims.
  • Ninth Circuit Affirms Decision Dismissing Securities Class Action Against Medical Device Manufacturer For Failure To Allege An Actionable False Or Misleading Statement
     
    07/12/2022

    On July 7, 2022, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a putative securities fraud class action against a medical device manufacturer company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives.  Macomb County Employees’ Retirement System et al. v. Align Technology Inc. et al., No. 21-15823 (9th Cir. July 7, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants violated Sections 10(b), 20(a), and 20A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, by misrepresenting the Company’s prospects about its future success in China.  The Court affirmed the district court’s order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that six of the challenged statements were non-actionable “puffery,” and the remaining six statements did not misrepresent the Company’s growth in China.
  • District Of New Jersey Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Women’s Clothing Retailer For Failure To Allege Material Misstatement And Scienter
     
    07/06/2022

    On June 28, 2022, Judge Kevin McNulty of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action against a retail clothing brand (the “Company”) and two of its executives (“Individual Defendants”) alleging violations of Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  In re Ascena Retail Grp., Inc. Sec. Litig., No. CV1913529KMJBC, 2022 WL 2314890 (D.N.J. June 28, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company knowingly or recklessly overstated the value and business prospects of the Company and its subsidiaries in public statements and SEC filings.  The Court dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to plead an actionable misrepresentation or allegations sufficient to support a strong inference of scienter.
  • California District Court Grants Motion To Dismiss With Prejudice Putative Securities Class Action Against Healthcare Company, Finding That Plaintiffs Failed To Allege False Statements Or Misleading Omissions In The Company’s IPO Offering Documents
     
    06/23/2022

    On June 9, 2022, Judge David O. Carter of the United States District Court for the Central District of California granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against a healthcare company (the “Company”), its directors, and the underwriters of the Company’s initial public offering.  R. Brian Terenzini v. GoodRx Holdings, Inc. et al., No. 2:20-cv-11444, (C.D. Cal. June 9, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged in their amended complaint that at the time of the Company’s IPO it failed to disclose in its Registration Statement and subsequent investor communications the significant risk of competition from a large online retailer.  The Court held that—as with the original complaint—plaintiffs failed to allege actionable misstatements or omissions as well as scienter and granted defendants’ motion to dismiss with prejudice.
     
  • Middle District Of Tennessee Certifies Class In Suit Over Healthcare Company’s $1.3 Billion Acquisition Of Diet Company, Finding Price Impact Was Not Disproven
     
    06/14/2022

    On June 7, 2022, Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted a motion for class certification in a putative class action against a healthcare company (the “Company”) and its executives, alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).  Robert Strougo v. Tivity Health Inc. et al., No. 3:20-cv-00165 (M.D. Tenn. June 7, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that the Company misled investors during and after the $1.3 billion acquisition of a well-known diet and nutrition company that closed in the second quarter of 2019 by announcing that the new division created by the merger (the “Nutrition Segment”) was “on track” even though it performed poorly from the time of the acquisition and had significant revenue problems.  The Court granted class certification.
  • First Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Securities Class Action Against Bank For Alleged Failure To Disclose Deteriorating Bond Market Conditions
     
    06/02/2022

    On May 20, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against a bank and its affiliates (the “Bank”).  Ponsa-Rabell v. Santander Sec. LLC, et al., No. 20-01857 (1st Cir. May 20, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged the Bank devised a scheme to defraud investors into purchasing Puerto Rican government bonds by omitting material information about the state of the market and about its own alleged program to rid itself of those securities.  The appeal did not pertain to the district court’s dismissal of claims under Section 17(a) of the 1933 Securities Act or Plaintiffs’ claims brought under Puerto Rican law for which the district court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction after dismissing plaintiffs’ securities claims.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActOmission
  • Second Circuit Vacates In Part Decision To Dismiss Putative Securities Class Action Against Tobacco And Cannabis Company For Alleged Failure To Disclose SEC Investigation
     
    06/02/2022

    On May 24, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed and vacated in part the district court’s dismissal of claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against a company that genetically engineers tobacco and cannabis products (the “Company”) and two of its former officers.  Noto, et al. v. 22nd Century Group Inc. et al., No. 21-347 (2d Cir. May 24, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged the Company engaged in an illegal stock promotion scheme by paying authors to write promotional articles about the Company without revealing that the Company paid for the articles, and further failed to disclose an SEC investigation into the Company’s alleged financial control weaknesses.  The Court affirmed the district court’s order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss in part, holding that plaintiffs did not adequately plead a claim that the Company violated the Exchange Act by failing to disclose that it paid for the articles, but vacated the district court’s dismissal of claims related to the SEC investigation and remanded for further proceedings.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActOmission
  • Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Complaint Against Pharmaceutical Company For Failure To Allege Falsity And Loss Causation
     
    05/24/2022

    On May 19, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court’s dismissal of a putative class action against a pharmaceutical company (the “Company”) asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re Nektar Therapeutics Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 21-15170 (9th Cir. May 19, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company misled investors about the results of its preliminary trial of the Company’s flagship drug when it presented the information without disclosing that outlier data was included in the average.  In December 2020, the Northern District of California dismissed the complaint for failure to plead falsity, scienter, or loss causation, which we covered here.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal, holding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently explain how the inclusion of the outlier data misled investors, or how the announcement of subsequent trial results caused a loss.
  • 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
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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).
  • 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
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Cybersecurity Company Related To Its Merger For Failure To Allege Subjective Falsity
     
    09/21/2021

    On September 13, 2021, Judge Edward M. Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed with prejudice a putative class action against a cybersecurity company (the “Company”) and its CEO for violations of Section 14(e) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re Finjan Holdings, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 20-cv-04289 (N.D. Cal. Sep. 13, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants made material misrepresentations about the value of the Company in connection with the sale of the Company through a tender offer (the “Merger”) and that the CEO was motivated by his desire to retain his position at the Company.  The Court dismissed the claims, holding that (i) the sales process indicated that the offer price reflected the market value of the Company’s stock, and (ii) plaintiff failed to present particularized evidence that the CEO had a motive to mislead shareholders.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActFalsity
  • District Of New Jersey Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Medical Device Manufacturer For Failure To Allege Falsity And Scienter
     
    09/21/2021

    On September 15, 2021, Judge Stanley R. Chesler of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed a putative class action against a medical device manufacturer (the “Company”) and certain of its officers alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Industriens Pensionsforsikring A/S v. Becton Dickinson & Co., No. 20-cv-02155 (D.N.J. Sept. 15, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged the Company made misleading statements concerning regulatory approval of one of its medical devices, its regulatory compliance program, and financial projections.  The Court dismissed plaintiff’s claims without prejudice in an unpublished opinion confirming the many challenges to pleading securities fraud claims based on alleged misrepresentations regarding U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approval processes.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActFalsityScienter
  • Southern District Of New York Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Cannabis Company, Holding Plaintiffs Failed To Overcome Jurisdictional Limitations
     
    09/09/2021

    On August 30, 2021, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan 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 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against a cannabis company (“Company”), its senior secured lender (“Financing Company”), and certain executives at both companies.  In re iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc. Securities Litigation, 1:20-cv-03135 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 30, 2021).  Plaintiffs, in consolidated purported class actions and an individual action brought by a shareholder, alleged the Company failed to disclose the nature of its relationship with the Financing Company, which allegedly obtained approximately half of the equity of the Company after the Company defaulted on its loan.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ first amended class action complaint (“Amended Complaint”), holding that plaintiffs failed to allege their transactions with the Company satisfied the jurisdictional limitations of the Exchange Act established by the Supreme Court in Morrison v. Nat’l Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247, 267 (2010).  The Court permitted plaintiffs to move for leave to further amend.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActJurisdiction
  • Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action Against Danish Bank For Failure To Allege An Actionable Misrepresentation Or Scheme To Defraud
     
    08/31/2021

    On August 25, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action against a Danish bank (the “Company”) and certain of its former officers and directors alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Plaintiffs alleged misstatements and omissions concerning the Company’s anti-money laundering (“AML”) controls and protocols.  Plumbers & Steamfitters Local v. Danske Bank, No. 20-3231 (2d Cir. Aug. 25, 2021).  The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal for failure to allege an actionable misrepresentation or a scheme to defraud investors.
  • Southern District Of California Denies Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Pharmaceutical Company, Holding Plaintiff Adequately Pled Material Misstatements And Scienter
     
    08/19/2021

    On August 4, 2021, Judge Marilyn L. Huff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit against a biopharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and certain of its officers for alleged violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.  Kendall v. Odonate Therapeutics, Inc., et al., No. 3:20-cv-01828-H-LL (S.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2021).  The Court held that plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint (the “SAC”) adequately alleged material misstatements and omissions by defendants concerning the efficacy and safety of the Company’s flagship cancer drug (tesetaxel) during the course of a Phase 3 clinical trial, and further held that plaintiff adequately alleged scienter.
  • District Of Nevada Pares Down Class Action Against Resort And Casino Operator For Failure To Allege Falsity
     
    08/10/2021

    On July 28, 2021, Judge Andrew P. Gordon of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action against a resort and casino operator (the “Company”) and its current and former officers alleging violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), Rule 10b-5, and Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act.  Ferris v. Wynn Resorts Ltd., No. 18-CV-00479 (D. Nev. July 28, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made material misstatements and omissions concerning allegations that its CEO engaged in sexual misconduct.  The Court denied the Company’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims relating to alleged misstatements made directly in response to a newspaper article and lawsuit concerning the CEO’s alleged misconduct, but granted the motion to dismiss with respect to the alleged misstatements that concerned the Company’s code of conduct, compliance with laws and regulations, and corporate culture.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActFalsityOmission
  • Third Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action Against Telecommunications Company For Failure To Allege Scienter
     
    08/10/2021

    On August 5, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in a non-precedential opinion, affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action against a multinational telecommunications company (the “Company”) and certain of its officers and directors for violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  PAMCAH-UA Local 675 Pension Fund v. BT Group PLC, No. 20-2016 (3d Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made false and misleading statements about its financial performance as a result of a complex, decade-long accounting fraud that occurred at its Italian subsidiary (the “Subsidiary”).  The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal on the grounds that the stronger inference from the factual allegations in the complaint as to the Company’s executives was a lack of scienter and, even if scienter was sufficiently alleged as to executives at the Subsidiary, that could not be imputed to the Company.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActScienter
  • Southern District Of New York Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Clothing Company And Individual Defendants, Finding Plaintiffs Failed To Plead Material Misstatements And Scienter
     
    07/28/2021

    On July 19, 2021, Judge Vernon S. Broderick of the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss claims alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against a clothing company (the “Company”), its executives, and its majority shareholder.  Cheng v. Can. Goose Holdings Inc., No. 19-cv-08204 (S.D.N.Y. July 19, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged defendants made materially false and misleading statements concerning the shifting timeframe of sales in its direct-to-consumer (“DTC”) channel (the “Timing Shift” allegations), and inventory growth rates.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ Consolidated First Amended Complaint (“CFAC”).
  • Ninth Circuit Affirms Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Wholesale Retailer, Finding Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Plead Scienter
     
    07/28/2021

    On July 20, 2021, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissing with prejudice a putative class action lawsuit asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) against a wholesale retailer (the “Company”) and certain of its executives, as well as Section 20(a) claims against those individual defendants.  Davoli, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., et al., No. 20-35821 (9th Cir. July 20, 2021).  Plaintiff alleges that defendants made false statements regarding the strength of the Company’s internal controls over financial reporting.  The district court dismissed plaintiff’s Second Consolidated Amended Complaint (the “SAC”) for failure to adequately plead scienter and the Ninth Circuit affirmed.  The Panel’s unpublished opinion cannot be cited as precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit rules.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Confirms That The Generic Nature Of Alleged Misstatements In Federal Securities Fraud Claims Is Relevant To Rebut Basic Presumption Of Classwide Reliance At Class Certification Stage
     
    06/29/2021

    On June 21, 2021, the United States Supreme Court, in a decision delivered by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, vacated and remanded a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upholding a certification of a shareholder class asserting securities fraud against a global financial institution (the “Company”) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, on the basis that there was “sufficient doubt” as to whether the Second Circuit properly considered the generic nature of the Company’s alleged misrepresentations in its price impact inquiry.  Goldman Sachs Grp., Inc. et al. v. Arkansas Teacher Ret. Sys. et al., 594 U.S. ____ (2021).  The Court held that, in the context of class certification in a case involving claims under Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act:  (i) the generic nature of a misrepresentation is important evidence of price impact that courts should consider at the class certification stage, regardless of whether that evidence overlaps with materiality and any other merits issue, and (ii) defendants bear the burden of persuasion to prove a lack of price impact by a preponderance of the evidence in order to rebut the presumption of classwide reliance established under the Supreme Court’s decision in Basic Inc. v. Levinson.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActReliance
  • Southern District Of Florida Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Cruise Line Related To Statements Regarding COVID-19 Risks And Precautionary Measures
     
    06/08/2021

    On May 28, 2021, Judge K. Michael Moore of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action against a cruise line (the “Company”) and its CEO for violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made false and misleading statements and omissions about the risks posed by COVID-19 and the Company’s health and safety protocols during the early stages of the pandemic.  Consistent with another recent decision covered here, the Court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims for failure to adequately plead falsity and scienter, but granted leave to amend.
  • District Of Maryland Denies Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Sports Apparel Company, Finding Plaintiffs Adequately Pled Material Misstatements And Scienter In Light Of SEC Order In Parallel Proceeding
     
    05/26/2021

    On May 19, 2021, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action involving claims brought under Sections 10(b), 20(a) and 20A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) against a sports apparel company (the “Company”) and one of its executives.  In re Under Armour Securities Litigation, No. 17-cv-00388 (D. Md. May 19, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants misrepresented the Company’s financial health and the demand for its products by engaging in “channel stuffing”—the practice of pulling forward sales from a future quarter, thereby shifting earnings into earlier quarters—relying in part on a settlement between the Company and the SEC and the $9 million civil penalty paid in connection with the settlement to resolve similar allegations.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActFalsityPSLRAScienter
  • District Of New Jersey Holds Omnicare Applies To Exchange Act Claims Based On Alleged Omissions But Dismisses Claims Against Canadian Cannabis Producer Related To Inventory Surplus For Failure To Allege Scienter
     
    05/18/2021

    On May 6, 2021, Judge Kevin McNulty of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action against the largest cannabis company in Canada (the “Company”) and several of its officers for violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Ortiz v. Canopy Growth Corp., No. 19-cv-20543 (D.N.J. May 6, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged the Company made numerous false and misleading statements and omissions about the Company’s inventory levels.  Although the Court held that certain of the Company’s representations regarding inventory and revenue in its financial statements were statements of opinion that were actionable, the Court ultimately dismissed these claims because plaintiffs failed to adequately allege scienter.
  • Northern District Of Illinois Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Financial Services Provider, Finding Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Plead Scienter
     
    05/04/2021

    ​On April 26, 2021, Judge Sara L. Ellis of the Northern District of Illinois granted 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”) against a financial services provider (the “Company”) and two of its executives.  Heavy & General Laborers’ Local 472 & 172 Pension and Annuity Funds v. Fifth Third Bancorp, et. al., No. 20-C-2176 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 26, 2021).  Plaintiff, on behalf of herself and a putative class of investors who allegedly purchased and sold securities of the Company during the putative class period, alleged that defendants made materially misleading statements regarding the Company’s business practices that were the subject of a federal investigation.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the consolidated complaint without prejudice, holding that plaintiff failed to adequately plead scienter.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActScienter
  • Ninth Circuit Holds Omnicare’s Standard For Falsity Of Opinion Applies To Claims Under Section 14(a) Of The Exchange Act
     
    04/28/2021

    On April 20, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative securities class action against an information technology security company (the “Company”), its chief executive officer, and Board of Directors (the “Directors”), alleging that a proxy statement issued in connection with a sale of the Company violated Sections 14(a) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 14a-9.  Golub v. Gigamon Inc., No. 19-16975 (9th Cir. Apr. 20, 2021).  In a unanimous decision, the Ninth Circuit, joining the Fourth Circuit (Paradise Wire & Cable Defined Benefit Pension Plan v. Weil, 918 F.3d 312 (4th Cir. 2019)), held that the standard articulated in Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund, 575 U.S. 175 (2015) governing whether a plaintiff has sufficiently alleged the falsity of a statement of opinion under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”), also applies to claims under Section 14(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule 14a-9, and affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the complaint for failure to allege falsity.  The Court further explained its application of the Omnicare standard to Section 14(a) in an accompanying summary opinion.
  • Northern District Of Illinois Denies Motion To Dismiss A Putative Securities Class Action Against Electric Company For Failure To Disclose Long-Running Bribery Scheme
     
    04/28/2021

    On April 21, 2021, Judge Virginia M. Kendall of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action against a large Illinois-based electric company (the “Company) for violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 as well as Items 105 and 303 of Regulation S-K.  Flynn v. Exelon Corp., No. 19-C-8209 (N.D. Ill. April 21, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that the Company made false and misleading statements and omissions about an eight-year scheme to bribe Illinois state lawmakers, which, when finally disclosed to the market, caused substantial losses to investors.  The Court denied the motion to dismiss with respect to most claims.  Significantly, although the Court recognized that the Seventh Circuit has not held that Items 105 and 303 impose a general duty to disclose regulatory non-compliance, the Court nevertheless found that the Company violated Items 105 and 303 because it knew of and attempted to conceal the bribery scheme, all while making public statements that it was in compliance with its internal anti-bribery guidelines.
  • Southern District Of Texas Denies Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims, Finding Plaintiffs Adequately Pled Material Misrepresentations And Scienter
     
    04/13/2021

    On March 31, 2021, Judge Alfred H. Bennett of the Southern District of Texas denied a motion to dismiss claims under Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) against a company that operates live adult entertainment businesses and bar-restaurants (the “Company”) and certain of its executives, as well as members of its audit, compensation, and nominating committees.  Hoffman, et al v. RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc., et al, No. 4:19-cv-01841 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 31, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged defendants made misleading statements or omissions concerning certain related-party transactions (RPTs), executive compensation, and other financial points in several of the Company’s Form 10-K annual reports.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint, holding that plaintiffs sufficiently pled material misstatements and scienter.
     
  • Northern District Of Illinois Denies Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Surgical Implants Manufacturer, Finding Plaintiffs Adequately Alleged Material Misstatements And Scienter
     
    04/13/2021

    On April 1, 2021, Judge Matthew F. Kennelly of the Eastern District of Illinois denied a motion to dismiss a claim under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, against a surgical implants manufacturer (the “Company”) and certain of its current and former officers.  Lowry v. RTI Surgical Holdings Inc., No. 20-cv-01939 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 1, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s accounting and revenue recognition practices which caused a stock drop once corrective disclosures were made.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint, holding that plaintiffs sufficiently pled material misstatements and scienter.
     
  • Central District Of California Denies Motion To Dismiss A Securities Fraud Complaint Against Medical Device Manufacturer Based On Statements Regarding Post-Acquisition Integration And Sales
     
    04/06/2021

    On March 29, 2021, Judge David O. Carter of the United States District Court for the Central District of California denied a motion to dismiss a consolidated putative class action complaint against a medical device manufacturer and marketer (the “Company”) and certain of its officers, alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re Merit Med. Sys., Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 8:19-02326 DOC (ADSx) (C.D. Cal. Mar. 29, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company issued misleading statements regarding its acquisitions of two companies in late 2018 including with respect to the integration of those companies and their products sales.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss, adopting a report and recommendation by Magistrate Judge Autumn D. Spaeth, which found that most of the challenged statements were not forward-looking statements protected by the PSLRA’s safe harbor provisions and that plaintiffs had adequately pled all elements of their claims. 
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