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  • 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.
  • 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.
     
  • 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.”
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Ninth Circuit Affirms District Court’s Order Holding Plaintiff Had Standing To Sue Defendants Based On Shares Purchased Through Direct Listing
     
    09/29/2021

    On September 20, 2021, the Ninth Circuit, in a split decision, held that plaintiff—a shareholder who allegedly purchased shares through a direct listing by a technology company (the “Company”)—had standing to bring claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”).  Fiyyaz Pirani v. Slack Technologies, Inc., et al, No. 20-16419 (9th Cir. Sept. 20, 2021).  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying in part a motion to dismiss securities fraud claims.  The Company challenged plaintiff’s standing to sue under Sections 11 and 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act for failure to prove his shares were registered under the alleged misleading registration statement.  The Court held that plaintiff had standing to bring Securities Act claims because, whether registered or unregistered, his shares could not have been purchased without the issuance of the Company’s registration statement.  The Court concluded that the shares purchased by plaintiff were governed by Sections 11 and 12 of the Securities Act and affirmed the district court’s partial denial of the Company’s motion to dismiss.
    CATEGORIES : Securities ActStanding
  • Eleventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Untimely Putative Class Action Relating To Celebrity-Backed Cryptocurrency Offering
     
    06/29/2021

    On June 21, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of claims under Sections 12(a)(1) and 15(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against the co-owners of a company (the “Company”) that sold cryptographic tokens in an initial coin offering to fund its nascent movie streaming platform.  Fedance v. Felton, No. 20-12222 (11th Cir. 2021).  Although plaintiffs brought the action after the one-year statute of limitations period had elapsed, they argued that the Company’s fraudulent concealment equitably tolled the limitations period.  The district court held that the claims were untimely because the doctrine of equitable tolling did not apply to claims brought under Sections 12(a)(1) and 15(a).  Although the Eleventh Circuit agreed that plaintiffs’ claims were untimely, the Court rejected the district court’s conclusion that equitable tolling is inapplicable to Section 12(a)(1) and 15(a) claims.  The Eleventh Circuit instead held that plaintiffs had not adequately alleged that the Company’s fraudulent concealment prevented them from bringing claims within the limitations period.
  • New York State Court Dismisses Putative Securities Class Action Lawsuit Against Canadian Cannabis Producer For Failure To Plead Contemporaneous Misleading Statements
     
    06/15/2021

    On June 3, 2021, Justice Andrew Borrok of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Commercial Division, granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action against a Canadian cannabis company (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters, alleging violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”).  Leung v. Hexo Corp., et al., No. 20-cv-150444 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Jun. 3, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that the Company’s offering documents misled investors regarding one of the Company’s key supply agreements.  In dismissing the complaint, the Court held that plaintiff failed to adequately allege contemporaneous facts indicating that the Company knew at the time of the offering that issues would arise with respect to that agreement.  In so holding, the Court cited a March 9, 2021 decision by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of New York, in which Judge Buchwald granted a motion to dismiss a first-filed action in federal court asserting similar claims against the Company, certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters, relying on the same allegations.
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Canadian Cannabis Producer For Failure To Plead Falsity And Scienter
     
    03/17/2021

    On March 9, 2021, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss a putative class action complaint against a Canadian cannabis producer (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters that asserted claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5.  In re HEXO Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 19-CV-10965 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 9, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged the Company made misrepresentations about one of its key supply agreements, a new production facility, and its expected revenue.  The Court dismissed the claims under the Securities Act because they were based on impermissible hindsight pleading and the Exchange Act claims for failure to plead falsity and scienter. 
     
  • New York Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal Of Securities Act Claim Against Canadian Cannabis Producer Alleging Material Misstatements Regarding Product Quality
     
    02/23/2021

    On February 16, 2021, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, First Judicial Department, unanimously affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action against a Canadian cannabis producer (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 and Item 303 and Item 105 of Regulations S-K.
     
  • New York Appellate Court Reverses Denial Of Motion To Dismiss Securities Act Claim And Dismisses Complaint Against Chinese E-Commerce Company Alleging Material Omissions
     
    12/08/2020

    On December 3, 2020, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, First Judicial Department, reversed an order that denied defendants’ motion to dismiss a securities action complaint against a Chinese e-commerce marketing company (the “Company”) under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, and directed that a judgment be entered dismissing the complaint.  Lyu v. Ruhnn Holdings Ltd., No. 12553, 2020 WL 7062118 (1st Dep’t Dec. 3, 2020).  This is the first substantive Securities Act ruling from a New York appeals court since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Cyan Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund, 138 S. Ct. 1061 (2018), which held that state courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate class actions brought under the Securities Act and that such actions generally cannot be removed from state to federal court.
     
    CATEGORIES : OmissionSecurities Act
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses A Putative Securities Class Action Against A Weight Loss Company Related To Its Strategic Rebranding Initiative
     
    12/08/2020

    On November 30, 2020, Judge William H. Pauley III of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a weight loss company (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, and its largest shareholder.  In re Weight Watchers Int’l Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 19-cv-2005 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 30, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made false and misleading statements and omissions about its strategic rebranding initiative.  The Court dismissed these claims because plaintiffs failed to allege falsity, observing that plaintiffs’ claims “have little bearing on disclosure . . . and are [instead] fundamentally about corporate mismanagement.”  Although the Court concluded that plaintiffs’ failure to allege an actionable misrepresentation was sufficient to dismiss the case, the Court addressed the parties’ remaining arguments, including two issues on which the Second Circuit has yet to weigh in, holding that:  (1) the exercise of stock options can be considered for the purpose of determining whether an individual’s stock sales are sufficient to allege scienter; and (2) a selling shareholder is not a “statutory seller” for purposes of Section 12(a)(2) simply because it signed the registration statement.  The Court also held that the selling shareholder was not a “maker” of the allegedly misleading statements and thus could not be held liable under Section 10(b).
     
  • Northern District Of Illinois Dismisses A Putative Securities Class Action Alleging Failure To Disclose Fraudulent Channel Stuffing In Connection With A Merger Of Two Large Packaged Foods Companies
     
    10/27/2020

    On October 15, 2020, Judge Martha M. Pacold of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 against a large packaged foods company (the “Company”), as well as certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters.  W. Palm Beach Firefighters’ Pension Fund v. Conagra Brands, Inc., No. 19-cv-101323, 2020 WL 6118605 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 15, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that, in connection with a secondary public offering (“SPO”) to finance the acquisition of another packaged foods company (the “Acquired Company”), the Company failed to disclose that the Acquired Company had engaged in channel stuffing—a form of accounting fraud—to disguise the fact its key brands were struggling.  The Court dismissed these claims in their entirety because, among other reasons, plaintiffs failed to allege adequately that the Acquired Company engaged in fraudulent channel stuffing.
     
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Securities Act Class Action Against Cloud-Based Storage Provider For Failure To Allege Falsity And As Time-Barred
     
    10/27/2020

    On October 21, 2020, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a putative securities class action against a large online cloud-based storage provider (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, certain of its controlling shareholders, and the underwriters of its IPO, for alleged violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Item 303 of SEC Regulation S-K.  In re Dropbox Securities Litigation, No. 19-cv-06348 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 21, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the offering materials filed in connection with the Company’s IPO omitted to disclose the decelerating rate at which the Company was converting non-paying registered users into paying subscription users, which gave investors a false impression of the Company’s revenue growth.  The Court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend because plaintiffs failed to allege the offering materials were false or misleading and because plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred.
     
  • Northern District Of California Grants In Part And Denies In Part Motion To Dismiss A Putative Securities Fraud Class Action Against Rideshare Company
     
    09/15/2020

    On September 8, 2020, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative securities fraud class action against a ridesharing company (the “Company”) and certain of its directors under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”). In re Lyft Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 19 Civ. 2690 (HSG), 2020 WL 5366325 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that the Company’s prospectus and registration statement (the “Registration Statement”) contained numerous false or misleading statements and omissions, including those concerning reported sexual assaults by the Company’s drivers and defects with bicycles that were part of the Company’s bikeshare fleet.  Although the Court found that certain statements and omissions regarding rider safety were actionable, the Court dismissed plaintiff’s remaining claims for failure to allege falsity or because the statements constituted non-actionable puffery.
     
  • First Circuit Affirms The Dismissal Of A Putative Securities Fraud Class Action Against Medical Robotics Company In Connection With The FDA’s Issuance Of A Warning Letter
     
    09/01/2020

    On August 25, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative securities fraud class action asserting violations of Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) as well as Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 against a medical robotics company (the “Company”) as well as certain of its officers.  Yan v. ReWalk Robotics Ltd., et al., No. 19-1614, 2020 WL 5014858 (1st Cir. Aug. 25, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made false or misleading statements and omissions in its IPO registration statement (the “Registration Statement”) and subsequent quarterly and annual disclosures concerning its dealings with the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) regarding one of the Company’s devices.  The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the Securities Act claims, finding that plaintiffs failed to allege a material misstatement or omission.  Although it disagreed with the district court’s reasoning in dismissing the Exchange Act claims for lack of standing, the First Circuit nevertheless found that the Exchange Act claims were properly dismissed because plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege a material misstatement or scienter.
     
  • Delaware District Court Grants Class Certification With Modifications In Suit Against Student Loan Processor
     
    09/01/2020

    On August 25, 2020, U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika certified two classes of investors bringing claims against a student loan servicing company (the “Company”), certain of its executives, and the underwriters of two of the Company’s debt offerings.  Lord Abbett Affiliated Fund Inc., et al. v. Navient Corp., et al., No. 1:16-cv-00112 (D. Del. Aug. 25, 2020).  Plaintiffs asserted claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“the Exchange Act”) and Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (“the Securities Act”) alleging that defendants inflated the price of the Company’s securities by concealing problems in its loan servicing practices and other risks.  The Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in part, certifying one class of investors with alleged claims under the Securities Act and a second narrowed class with alleged claims under the Exchange Act.
     
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Large IT Services Provider
     
    08/04/2020

    On July 27, 2020, United States District Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed, with leave to amend, a putative class action asserting violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against a large IT services provider (the “Company”), certain of its officers, and its largest shareholder.  Costanzo v. DXC Tech. Co., No. 19-cv-05794-BLF, 2020 WL 4284838 (N.D. Cal. July 27, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company’s prospectus and registration statement (the “Registration Statement”), issued in connection with the merger that created the Company, mislead investors about the true scale of, and the risks associated with, the Company’s plan to reduce its workforce costs.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss because plaintiffs failed to allege that the statements in the Company’s Registration Statement were false and because the alleged misstatements were protected by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act’s (“PSLRA”) safe harbor.
     
    CATEGORIES : FalsityPSLRASecurities Act
  • California Appellate Court Holds Secondary Market Purchasers of ETFs Lack Standing To Bring Securities Act Claims
     
    06/01/2020

    On January 23, 2020, the Court of Appeal of the First Appellate District of California affirmed a lower court’s judgment holding that investors lacked standing to pursue claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 against an open-end management investment company (the “Company”), its investment advisor, the investment advisor’s parent company, and certain members of the board of trustees of the Company.  Jensen v. iShares Tr., 44 Cal. App. 5th 618 (Ct. App. 2020), review denied (May 27, 2020).  Plaintiffs, who purchased shares of exchanged-traded funds (“ETFs”) on the secondary market, claimed that the Company failed to adequately disclose the risks associated with “flash crashes” that were known to occur in the ETF market.  The Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal, holding that plaintiffs lacked standing under Section 11 because they could not satisfy the tracing requirement and that plaintiffs lacked standing under Section 12(a)(2) because they failed to allege direct contract with defendants.
     
  • Northern District Of California Denies In Part Motion To Dismiss Securities Act Claims Against Software Company, Finding That Plaintiff Met Section 11 “Tracing” Requirements In Connection With Direct Listing Of Preexisting Shares
     
    04/28/2020

    On April 21, 2020, Judge Susan Illston of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit asserting claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against a software company (the “Company”), certain of its executives and directors, and three venture capital firms (the “VC Defendants”) that held a significant percentage of the Company’s voting power.  Fiyyaz Pirani v. Slack Technologies, Inc., et. al., No. 19-cv-05857-SI (N.D. Cal. Apr. 21, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants were liable for materially misleading statements and omissions concerning the Company’s service outages, competition, scalability, and growth strategy in offering materials in connection with the Company’s direct listing of preexisting shares to the public.  The Court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss, and granted plaintiff leave to amend to cure the amended complaint’s deficiencies.
     
  • District Of Connecticut Dismisses Securities Class Action Against A Consumer Financial Services Company, Certain Of Its Officers And Directors And Its Underwriters, Holding That Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Allege Any Material Misrepresentations
     
    04/07/2020

    On March 31, 2020, Judge Victor A. Bolden of the District of Connecticut dismissed a putative securities class action against a provider of private label credit cards (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters in connection with a notes offering.  In re Synchrony Financial Sec. Litig., No. 3:18-cv-1818 (VAB) (D. Conn. Mar. 31, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged violations of Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) by all defendants, as well as Section 15 of the Securities Act against the individual defendants.  Plaintiffs also alleged violations of Sections 10(b), 20A, and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) by the Company and certain of the individual defendants.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety with prejudice.
     
  • Northern District Of California Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Software Company, Finding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Allege Falsity Or Scienter With Respect To Alleged Material Omissions
     
    03/17/2020

    On March 9, 2020, Judge William H. Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California 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”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, against a software company (the “Company”) and two of its executive officers.  Ryan Scheller, et. al. v. Nutanix, Inc., et. al., No. 19-cv-01651-WHO (N.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged—based primarily on statements allegedly made by seven confidential witnesses (the “CWs”)—that defendants made false and misleading statements and omissions concerning, among other things, the Company’s internal operations, business relationships, product quality, and sales performance.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that plaintiffs failed to allege that the Company’s public statements were false or misleading, and that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege scienter.
     
  • New York State Supreme Court Grants In Part Motion To Dismiss Securities Act Claims, Holding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Allege Falsity With Respect To Alleged Omissions Regarding Changes To The Company’s Business Model, But Holding That An Issue Of Fact Exists Concerning Alleged Misstatements Regarding The Company’s Financial And Operational Data
     
    03/17/2020

    On March 9, 2020, Justice Andrew Borrok of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, Commercial Division, granted in part a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Sections 11, 12 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against a used car e-commerce company (the “Company”), certain of its executives and directors, and the underwriters for its initial public offering (“IPO”) of American Depository Shares (“ADSs”).  In re Uxin Limited Securities Litigation, No. 650427/2019 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Mar. 9, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made materially false and misleading statements and omissions concerning changes to the Company’s business model and certain financial and operational data reported by the Company in connection with its IPO.  The Court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss.
     
  • Northern District Of California Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Pharmaceutical Company, Finding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter With Respect To Alleged Material Omissions
     
    02/05/2020

    On January 27, 2020, Judge Richard G. Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California 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”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, against a pharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and two of its executive officers.  Immanuel Lake, et al. v. Zogenix, Inc., et. al., No. 19-cv-01975-RS (N.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made material omissions concerning the Company’s New Drug Application (“NDA”) it was submitting to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for a medication designed to treat seizures.  According to plaintiffs, the Company’s stock price fell approximately 20% when the alleged omission was revealed to the market through the FDA’s rejection of the NDA.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege a misstatement or omission of a material fact and scienter, but granted leave to amend.
     
  • Middle District Of Tennessee Pares Claims In Putative Class Action Against Healthcare Company And Its Previous Owner
     
    11/26/2019

    On November 19, 2019, Judge William M. Campbell of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee granted in part and denied in part motions to dismiss a putative class action under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a healthcare company, certain of its officers and directors, and a private equity firm that previously owned the company.  Plaintiffs alleged that the company failed to disclose that allegedly improper business practices were responsible for its revenue growth.  In re Envision Healthcare Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 3:17-CV-01112, 2019 WL 6168254 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 19, 2019).  The Court held that certain of the claims against the company and the individual defendants were adequately pleaded and others were not, but dismissed all claims against the private equity firm for failure to adequately allege scienter.
     
  • Connecticut State Court Grants Motion To Strike Securities Act Claims
     
    11/05/2019

    On October 24, 2019, Judge Charles T. Lee of the Connecticut Superior Court granted a motion to strike claims alleging violations of Sections 11, 12(a) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) in connection with an initial public offering brought against the issuer, certain of its officers, and the underwriters of the offering.  City of Livonia Retiree Health & Disability Benefits Plan v. Pitney Bowes Inc., No. X08 FST CV 18 6038160 S (Conn. Super. Ct. Oct. 24, 2019).  The Court had previously granted a protective order staying discovery pending the disposition of the motion to strike pursuant to the discovery stay provided in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, in one of the first state court decisions after the Supreme Court’s decision in Cyan Inc. v. Beaver Cty. Employees Ret. Fund, 138 S. Ct. 1061 (2018).  See State Court Stays Discovery Under the PSLRA During Pendency of Motion to Strike, Need to Know Litigation Newsletter (May 29, 2019), https://www.lit-sl.shearman.com/State-Court-Stays-Discovery-Under-The-PSLRA-During-Pendency.  In granting the motion to strike, the Court held that plaintiffs had failed to plead violations of the Securities Act because they did not identify any actionable misstatements or omissions from the relevant offering documents.
     
  • Northern District Of California Denies In Part Motion To Dismiss Securities Act Claims Against A Medical Technology Company, Finding That Plaintiff Adequately Alleged Material Misstatement
     
    10/29/2019

    On October 18, 2019, Judge Edward J. Davila of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) and Item 303 of Regulation S-K against a medical technology company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives and directors, venture capital firms, and underwriters.  In re Restoration Robotics, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 18-cv-03712 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 18, 2019).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants made materially misleading statements and omissions concerning the Company’s marketing function, hair transplant technology, product sales and revenue in offering documents in connection with the Company’s initial public offering (“IPO”).  The Court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss, and granted plaintiff leave to amend to cure the complaint’s deficiencies.
     
  • New York Supreme Court Dismisses Securities Act Of 1933 Claims, Holding That Plaintiffs’ Allegations Of Misleading Statements Are Inactionable Forward-Looking Statements Or Opinions Under Omnicare
     
    07/23/2019

    On July 11, 2019, Justice Andrew Borrok of the New York State Supreme Court, County of New York, Commercial Division, dismissed a putative securities class action against a Brazilian based online retailer (the “Company”), certain of its executives and directors, and its underwriters in connection with the Company’s initial public offering (“IPO”).  In re Netshoes Sec. Litig., Index No. 157435/2018 (Sup. Ct., N.Y. Cty., July 11, 2019).  Plaintiffs—purchasers of the Company’s stock—brought claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”), claiming that defendants made materially false and misleading statements in a registration statement filed with the SEC in connection with the IPO.  The Court dismissed the Securities Act claims without prejudice, finding that the allegations were inactionable opinions under the Supreme Court’s decision in Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers Dist. Council Const. Indus., 135 S. Ct. 1318 (2015), or were inactionable because they were about past performance, were forward-looking, or were expressions of puffery.
  • Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action, Holding That Grant Of Employee Stock Option Did Not Constitute A Sale, And That Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Plead A Duty To Disclose
     
    06/03/2019

    On May 24, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed in a unanimous decision the dismissal of a putative securities class action against a major financial services company and several of its subsidiaries in relation to their alleged involvement in Enron’s “financial manipulation.”  Lampkin et al. v. UBS PaineWebber Inc. et al., No. 17-20608 (5th Cir. May 24, 2019).  Plaintiffs—(i) individual retail-brokerage customers of defendants, and (ii) former Enron employees who acquired Enron stock options through Enron’s stock option plan—alleged defendants violated Section 11 and Section 12 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) by acting as an underwriter and seller of Enron securities and were liable for materially false and misleading statements contained in Enron’s prospectuses and registration statements.  Plaintiffs also alleged defendants violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder by failing to disclose their alleged knowledge of Enron’s alleged manipulation of its “public financial appearance.” 
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActSecurities Act
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Claim That Underwriter Of Regulation A+ Offering Was A Seller Of Unregistered Securities, But Allows Securities Fraud Claim To Proceed Past The Pleading Stage
     
    04/23/2019

    On April 11, 2019, Judge Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted in part and denied in part an underwriter’s motion to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit filed against a financial and technological services company (the “Company”), its executives, and the lead underwriter (“Underwriter”) of the Company’s Regulation A+ (“Reg A+”) offering in 2017 (the “Offering”).  In re Longfin Corp. Securities Class Action Litigation, 1:18-cv-02933 (DLC) (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 11, 2019).  Reg A+ was created to exempt certain categories of offerings from registration requirements and is an alternative to a traditional initial public offering.  Plaintiffs alleged that all defendants sold unregistered securities in violation of Section 12(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) in order to list on the NASDAQ, and committed fraud in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, and that certain of the individual defendants were liable under Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act and/or engaged in insider trading in violation of Section 20A of the Exchange Act.  The gravamen of plaintiffs’ claims is that the Company fraudulently issued more than 400,000 Class A shares to 24 individuals for $0 consideration in order to meet the NASDAQ’s listing requirement that the Company has issued 1,000,000 publicly held shares.  With respect to the Underwriter’s motion to dismiss, the Court dismissed the Securities Act claim, finding that it was not a “seller” of securities, but held that the Exchange Act claim could proceed because plaintiffs’ amended complaint adequately alleged, for the purpose of the motion to dismiss, the Underwriter’s knowledge and participation in a “scheme” under Rule 10b-5.
  • U.S. Chamber Of Commerce’s Institute Of Legal Reform Publishes Report On “Broken Securities Class Action System” And Proposes Reforms
     
    03/05/2019

    On February 25, 2019, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Legal Reform (the “ILR”) published a report entitled “Containing the Contagion: Proposals to Reform the Broken Securities Class Action System” (the “Report”). The Report describes various trends and problems affecting the securities class action system, which have led to the filing of securities cases “reaching levels not seen since before the enactment of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) in 1995.” According to the Report, the three main drivers of the steep increase in securities litigation filings are: (1) cases alleging misstatements in connection with M&A activity; (2) so-called “event-driven litigation,” whereby securities class actions are triggered by unexpected adverse events, such as fires, explosions, data breaches, and the like; and (3) the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Cyan Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund (138 S. Ct. 1061 (2018)), which confirmed that state courts retain non-removable (with limited exceptions) concurrent jurisdiction over Securities Act of 1933 class actions. The Report also describes perceived abuses and the need to curb such practices. Finally, the Report urges action from different parts of the federal government including the SEC, federal courts, and Congress, calling on each to do its part in curbing non-meritorious lawsuits that can ultimately harm investors and the U.S. capital markets system.
    CATEGORY : Securities Act