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

    On May 4, 2022, Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging, among other things, violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against an investment company (the “Company”), its related entities, and its president and co-founder.  Michael Tecku et al. v. YieldStreet Inc. et al., No. 1:20-cv-07327 (S.D.N.Y May 4, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company “misrepresented material facts about the stability and attractiveness of their investment products in its offering documents” by making misleading statements or omissions in private placement memoranda (“PPMs”) and series notes supplements (“SNSs”).  The Court held that, accepting plaintiffs’ allegations as true, plaintiffs sufficiently alleged securities fraud violations for certain alleged misstatements and omissions.
  • Central District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Software Developer For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity Or Scienter
     
    04/27/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On March 21, 2022, Judge Lewis J. Liman of the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss a claim under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, as well as Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act against a pharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives.  Rice v. Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc., No. 1:21-cv-00036 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 21, 2022).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants omitted material information concerning the safety of the Company’s liver disease drug that resulted in a stock drop once alleged corrective disclosures were made.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ first amended complaint (the “FAC”), holding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege material omissions, scienter, or loss causation, but granted plaintiffs leave to replead.
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Global Commercial Electronic Vehicle Company For Failure To Plead Scienter And Loss Causation
     
    03/23/2022

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

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

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

    On March 7, 2022, Judge P. Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a coal mining company and certain of its executives.  In re Peabody Energy Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 20-cv-8024 (PKC), slip op. (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2022), ECF No. 50.  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations concerning its safety practices, a fire that took place at one of its mines, and its ability to subsequently reopen that mine and resume operations.  The Court held that the complaint adequately alleged misrepresentations and scienter with respect to the mine fire but dismissed the remaining challenged statements as non-actionable puffery, protected forward-looking statements, or statements of opinion.
  • District Of Connecticut, On Remand, Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Consumer Financial Services Company
     
    02/24/2022

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

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

    On February 9, 2022, Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the Southern District of New York denied in part and granted in part a motion to dismiss a securities fraud action asserting claims related to alleged spoofing and short selling under Sections 10(b) and 9(a)(2) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, against broker-dealers, their Canadian affiliates, and unidentified U.S. and Canadian entities, including market makers, subsidiaries, affiliates, sister companies, and customers of the named defendants (collectively, “defendants”).  Harrington Global Opportunity Fund v. CIBC World Markets Corp., 21-CV-761 (LGS) (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 9, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants engaged in spoofing and short selling that caused a healthcare company’s stock, which plaintiff owned, to drop almost 90% over a nine-month period.  The Court denied dismissal of plaintiff’s spoofing claims against certain defendants and granted dismissal of plaintiff’s short selling claims against other defendants.
    CATEGORIES : Exchange ActScienter
  • Northern District Of California 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.
  • Northern District Of California Declines To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Biotechnology Company Because Challenged Statements, Even If “Literally True,” Could Have Misled A Reasonable Investor
     
    01/11/2022

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

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

    On December 22, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims against a software company and certain of its current and former executives under the Securities Exchange Act.  Constr. Indus. and Laborers Jt. Pension Tr. v. Carbonite, Inc., —F.4th—, 2021 WL 6062622 (1st Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company misleadingly touted the capabilities of a new cloud-based data backup product, even though defendants knew that the product did not work.  The district court dismissed the action for failure to adequately allege scienter, but the First Circuit reversed, holding that plaintiffs adequately alleged scienter and that the challenged statements were actionable.
  • 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.
  • Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action For Failure To Adequately Allege Scienter
     
    12/08/2021

    On December 1, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an information technology company and certain of its executives.  KBC Asset Mgt. NV v. DXC Tech. Co., —F.4th—, 2021 WL 5626377 (4th Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs claimed that the company made misrepresentations regarding its financial health, which plaintiffs alleged were false because the company had undertaken cost-cutting measures that undermined its ability to meet its revenue projections.  The district court dismissed the action and the Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege scienter.
    CATEGORY : Scienter
  • 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 Narrows Claims In Putative Securities Class Action Against Pharmaceutical Company
     
    10/26/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

    On September 30, 2021, Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. of the Southern District of New York dismissed an action asserting claims under the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and common law claims for breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and negligent misrepresentation against a cannabis company and certain of its executives.  SUN, A Series Of E Squared Investment Fund, LLC, et al. v. Sundial Growers Inc., et al., No. 1:20-cv-03579 (ALC), slip op. (Sept. 30, 2021).  Plaintiffs were investors that allegedly acquired convertible notes prior to the company’s initial public offering (“IPO”) and later converted those notes into shares shortly after the IPO, with one also purporting to receive shares in the IPO itself.  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants provided misleading information about a target entity that the company was on the verge of acquiring.  The Court dismissed the action, holding that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that the challenged statements were materially misleading in context at the time they were made, and that plaintiffs also failed to adequately allege scienter.
  • District Of New Jersey 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
  • Illinois District Court Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Food Delivery Company
     
    09/15/2021

    On September 7, 2021, Judge Charles Ronald Norgle of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an online food delivery company and certain of its executives.  Azar v. Grubhub, Inc., No. 1:19-CV-07665, 2021 WL 4077327 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 7, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations regarding the success of its marketing and expansion initiatives.  The Court held that plaintiff adequately alleged actionable misrepresentations and scienter.
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Infrastructure Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations Or Scienter
     
    09/15/2021

    On September 7, 2021, Judge Vernon S. Broderick of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an infrastructure management company, certain of its executives, and the underwriter of its stock offering.  City of Riviera Beach Gen. Emps. Ret. Sys. v. Macquarie Infrastructure Corp., et al., 2021 WL 4084572 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 7, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misstatements and omissions concerning decreased demand for a particular form of fuel oil that the company stored for customers, which plaintiff alleged allowed the company to maintain an artificially high stock price while the company completed a secondary stock offering and acquired a competitor.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to adequately allege any misrepresentation or scienter and, therefore, dismissed the action.
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action For Failure To Adequately Allege Actionable Misrepresentations Or Scienter
     
    08/26/2021

    On August 17, 2021, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an energy technology company and certain of its executives.  Hurst v. Enphase Energy, Inc., et al., No. 5:20-cv-04036-BLF, slip op. (N.D. Cal. Aug. 17, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged, based on a short seller report released the same day plaintiff’s complaint was filed, that the company misrepresented its revenues, engaged in improper deferred revenue accounting practices, and overstated the growth in its gross margins.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to adequately allege any misrepresentation or scienter and, therefore, dismissed the action, while granting plaintiff leave to amend to attempt to “rectify the defects” identified by the Court.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • District Of New Jersey Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Cannabis Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations
     
    07/13/2021

    On July 6, 2021, Judge John Michael Vazquez of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a Canadian company that manufactures and distributes cannabis products (the “Company”) and certain of its executives.  In re Aurora Cannabis, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 19-cv-20588 (JMV) (JBC), slip op. (D.N.J. July 6, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made material misstatements and omissions relating to the Company’s earnings projections that allegedly failed to disclose certain headwinds in the industry.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to identify any materially false or misleading statements, and also noted weaknesses in plaintiffs’ allegations with respect to the scienter and loss causation requirements.  Accordingly, the Court dismissed the first amended complaint in its entirety, but granted plaintiffs leave to replead to cure the identified defects.
  • Ninth Circuit Reverses In Part Dismissal Of Putative Class Action Against Technology Company
     
    06/22/2021

    On June 16, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed in part the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against a technology company and certain of its executives.  In re Alphabet, Inc. Sec. Litig., –F.3d–, 2021 WL 2448223 (9th Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company failed to disclose a security flaw that risked exposing customer data on its social networking site to third-party developers without customer consent.  The district court granted a motion to dismiss, determining that the complaint failed to allege any misrepresentation or omission and failed to adequately allege scienter.  The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that plaintiffs had adequately alleged actionable misrepresentations and scienter.  However, the Court affirmed the dismissal of certain allegations that it held were too vague to be actionable.
  • 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.
  • Eastern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action For Failure To Allege Actionable Misstatements
     
    06/02/2021

    On May 20, 2021, Judge Dora L. Irizarry of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed with prejudice a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a car manufacturer and certain of its current and former Board members.  Mucha v. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, — F. Supp. 3d —, 2021 WL 2006079 (E.D.N.Y. May 20, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged the company engaged in anticompetitive conduct which rendered a number of statements in the company’s SEC filings false or misleading.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege that the alleged misstatements were false, and therefore dismissed the complaint in its entirety.
  • 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
  • Southern District Of Florida Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Cruise Line For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations Or Scienter
     
    04/20/2021

    On April 10, 2021, Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed with prejudice a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a cruise line and certain of its executives.  Douglas v. Norwegian Cruise Lines, No. 20-21107-CIV, 2021 WL 1378296 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 12, 2021).  Plaintiff alleged the company made misrepresentations in February 2020 regarding the impact of COVID-19 on its business.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to adequately allege any actionable misrepresentations or scienter.
  • Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action Against Investment Bank For Failure To Adequately Allege Scienter
     
    04/20/2021

    ​On April 8, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Central District of California’s dismissal with prejudice of a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an investment bank, certain of its executives, and one of its research analysts.  Prodanova v. H.C. Wainwright & Co., LLC,—F.3d—, 2021 WL 1307882 (9th Cir. 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants had attempted to increase a company’s stock price by publishing a bullish analyst report shortly before the company announced that the bank would serve as the exclusive placement agent for an offering of the company’s shares.  The Ninth Circuit held that plaintiff failed to adequately allege a strong inference of scienter.
    CATEGORY : Scienter
  • 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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