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  • Fifth Circuit Holds That Complaint Based On Confidential Informant’s Allegations Sufficiently Alleged Material Misrepresentation And Omission In Investor Class Action
     
    02/03/2023

    On January 18, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s order dismissing the putative securities class action with prejudice, holding that plaintiff sufficiently alleged that a major theme park operator (the “Company”) and two of its executives made material misstatements and omissions in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Oklahoma Firefighter Pension and Retirement Systems v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, No. 21-10865, 2023 WL 228268 (5th Cir. 2023).  Largely on information from a former employee (“FE”), the complaint alleged that defendants misled investors by projecting unrealistic or impossible timelines for opening theme parks in China.  After significantly discounting the FE’s allegations, the district court dismissed the complaint with prejudice.  The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that the complaint adequately alleged the FE’s personal knowledge of the relevant topics and that the FE’s allegations should be discounted “only minimally.”
  • Western District Of New York Holds That Desire To Raise Capital In Specific Offering Can Provide A Basis to Infer Scienter
     
    02/03/2023

    On January 6, 2023, Judge John L. Sinatra, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York denied a motion to dismiss claims against a cannabis and tobacco engineering company (the “Company”) alleging that the Company failed to disclose an investigation by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Noto v. 22nd Century Group Inc., No. 1:19-cv-01285, 2023 WL 122305 (W.D.N.Y. Jan. 6, 2023). Following a January 2021 dismissal of the complaint, and the Second Circuit’s reversal of that decision, the Company again moved to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims. The Court denied the Company’s motion and permitted plaintiffs’ Section 10(b) and 20(a) claims to proceed.
  • Southern District Of New York Grants Summary Judgment To Pharmaceutical Company In Investor Class Action
     
    12/20/2022

    On December 12, 2022, Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment to a major pharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and dismissed class action claims that the Company failed to disclose a “serious and known link” between the Company’s breast implant products and a rare form of cancer, breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. In re Allergan PLC Securities Litigation, 2022 WL 17584155 (S.D.N.Y. 2022).  The Court held that the challenged statements were “literally true and not misleading” and that plaintiff failed to prove after extensive discovery that either scientific studies or the regulatory community had determined that the Company’s implants were in fact more closely associated with BIA-ALCL than other types of implants. Because discovery did not uncover any evidence of falsity and plaintiff failed to raise a genuine issue of fact with respect to the materiality of the alleged misrepresentations or as to loss causation, the Court granted the Company’s motion for summary judgment.
  • Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Suit Against Online Education Platform
     
    12/13/2022
     
    On November 22, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action against an online education platform (the “Company”) under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5. Boykin v. K12, Inc., No. 21-2351, 2022 WL 17097453 (4th Cir. 2022). Plaintiffs alleged that the Company artificially inflated the cost of its shares by misrepresenting the state of its business during the COVID-19 pandemic. The district court found that plaintiffs failed to plead falsity and scienter and granted the Company’s motion to dismiss with prejudice. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiffs failed to allege actionable misrepresentations or facts giving rise to a strong inference of scienter.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Northern District Of California Grants In Part Summary Judgment In Securities Fraud Action Against Electric Carmaker Over Twitter Posts Contemplating Go-Private Deal
     
    05/24/2022

    On May 10, 2022, Judge Edward Chen of the United States District Court for the District of Northern California unsealed an April 1, 2022 order granting in part a 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 designer and manufacturer of electric cars (the “Company”), its co-founder and CEO (the “Individual Defendant”), and its directors.  In re Tesla, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 18-CV-04865-EMC, 2022 WL 1497559 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 1, 2022).  Plaintiff claims that the Individual Defendant inflated the Company’s stock price by posting false and misleading statements on Twitter regarding a potential take-private deal.  The case proceeded to summary judgment following the Court’s prior denial of the Company’s motion to dismiss in April 2020, which we covered here.  Nearly two years later, the Court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as to the Individual Defendant’s statements about securing funding and investor support for the potential take-private deal because he was aware at the time of the statements that the take-private deal remained subject to a number of contingencies.
  • 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.
  • Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Exchange Act Claims Against Commercial Electronics Company Holding Plaintiff Failed To Allege Scienter And Falsity
     
    08/19/2021

    On August 10, 2021, 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, Eastern Division that dismissed a putative securities fraud class action asserting claims under Rule 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.  City of Taylor Police and Fire Retirement System v. Zebra Technologies Corp., et al, No. 20-3258 (7th Cir. Aug. 10, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants, a commercial electronics manufacturer (the “Company”) and two of its executives, misled investors by issuing false statements about the integration of assets following the Company’s acquisition of a separate commercial electronics company.  The district court dismissed the claims, holding that plaintiff failed to adequately allege scienter and falsity.  The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal.