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  • 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.
     
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Without Prejudice Putative Class Action Against Synthetic Biology Company For Failure To Allege Scienter
     
    06/07/2022

    On May 31, 2022, Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the Northern District of California dismissed without prejudice a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act against a synthetic biology company and certain of its executives.  Joseph v. Precigen, Inc., No. 20-cv-06936-BLF (N.D. Cal. May 31, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that the company misrepresented the efficiency and economic viability of its methane conversion program.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to adequately allege scienter and failed to allege falsity with respect to certain alleged misrepresentations; however, the Court granted leave to replead.
  • Eleventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of State-Law Class Action Claims Against Brokerage Firm As Barred By SLUSA
     
    06/07/2022

    On May 31, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims under Georgia state law for breach of fiduciary duty against a brokerage firm and its parent company.  Cochran v. Penn Mut. Life Ins., No. 20-13477 (11th Cir. May 31, 2022).  Plaintiff alleged that the brokerage firm breached a fiduciary duty when it advised plaintiff to use funds in a retirement account to invest in a variable annuity, a product that allegedly resulted in higher fees for the broker and no benefit to plaintiff because his retirement account was already tax-advantaged.  The district court dismissed the class action allegations and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (“SLUSA”) precludes bringing such claims as a class action.
    CATEGORIES : Misstatement/OmissionSLUSA
  • 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 Ohio Declines To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Energy Company Regarding Alleged Bribery Scheme
     
    03/15/2022

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

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

    On March 7, 2022, Judge P. Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a coal mining company and certain of its executives.  In re Peabody Energy Corp. Sec. Litig., No. 20-cv-8024 (PKC), slip op. (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 7, 2022), ECF No. 50.  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations concerning its safety practices, a fire that took place at one of its mines, and its ability to subsequently reopen that mine and resume operations.  The Court held that the complaint adequately alleged misrepresentations and scienter with respect to the mine fire but dismissed the remaining challenged statements as non-actionable puffery, protected forward-looking statements, or statements of opinion.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Southern District Of Ohio Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Public Utility Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations
     
    01/11/2022

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

    On December 22, 2021, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California declined to dismiss most of the claims asserted in a putative class action against a biotechnology company, certain of its executives, and the company’s former majority investor under the Securities Exchange Act.  In re Vaxart, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 20-cv-05949-VC (N.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 regarding its efforts to develop a vaccine, and further alleged that the investor engaged in a scheme to inflate the company’s stock price in order to exit its position at a profit.  The Court held that plaintiffs adequately alleged misrepresentations and scienter as against the company and its executives named as individual defendants but dismissed the claims against the investor.
  • 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.
  • Central District Of California Dismisses With Prejudice Putative Class Action Against Canadian Cannabis Manufacturer
     
    12/21/2021

    On December 8, 2021, Judge Philip S. Gutierrez of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed, with prejudice, a suit against a Canadian cannabis manufacturer (the “Company”), alleging that the Company failed to disclose material information about its facilities in Colombia and its transactions with other companies in violation of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  In re Pharmacielo Ltd. Sec. Litig., No. 20-2182-PSG (C.D. Cal. Dec. 8, 2021).  Plaintiffs—whose complaint was once dismissed—amended their complaint to bolster their allegations based on an assortment of Company statements regarding its facilities and expansion plans that plaintiffs alleged were designed to artificially inflate the Company’s stock price.  The Court dismissed the amended complaint for failure to plead falsity or materiality and did so with prejudice because any amendments would be futile based on their “failed attempt to remedy” the deficiencies of the prior complaint.
  • Second Circuit Revives Putative Class Action, Finding Material Misstatements Adequately Alleged In Connection With Going-Private Transaction
     
    12/08/2021

    On November 24, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an internet company and one of its directors.  Altimeo Asset Mgmt. v. Qihoo 360 Tech. Co. Ltd., —F.4th—, 2021 WL 5499455 (2d Cir. 2021).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company, which was headquartered in China and had previously had depository shares listed in the United States, made misrepresentations and omissions in connection with the shareholder buyout that took the company private by failing to disclose the company’s alleged intent to relist in China.  The district court dismissed the action but the Second Circuit vacated that dismissal, holding that plaintiffs adequately alleged facts from which an inference could be drawn that the company “must have been planning to relist [in China] at the time of the shareholder vote.”  Id. at *1.
  • District Of Delaware Dismisses Suit Against Wireless Technology Company For Failure To Plead Actionable Misstatement
     
    11/24/2021

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

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

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

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

    On October 18, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa dismissing a putative securities class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a media company and certain of its executives.  City of Plantation Police Officers Pension Fund v. Meredith Corp., –F.4th–, 2021 WL 4823411 (8th Cir. 2021).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations in connection with the expected benefits from its acquisition of a magazine publisher.  The district court dismissed the action with prejudice, holding that all but one of the challenged statements was not sufficiently alleged to be false, and that scienter was not adequately alleged for the remaining statement.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed.
  • District Of 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 Action Against Cannabis Company For Failure To Sufficiently Allege Misrepresentations, Scienter
     
    10/06/2021

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

    On September 21, 2021, Judge Michael A. Shipp of the District of New Jersey overruled an objection to a special master’s report and recommendation to deny a motion for judgment on the pleadings concerning claims under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against an accounting firm (the “Firm”).  In re Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl., Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 15-7658 (MAS) (LHG) (D. N.J. Sept. 21, 2021).  We previously covered the district court’s decision denying a motion to dismiss by other defendants in this action.  The Firm is the only defendant left in a purported class action lawsuit related to a pharmaceutical company’s public offering in 2015.  The Court agreed with the special master’s findings, among other things, that plaintiff was not required to plead damages for a Section 11 claim at the pleading stage.
  • 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.
  • Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action Against Danish Bank For Failure To Allege An Actionable Misrepresentation Or Scheme To Defraud
     
    08/31/2021

    On August 25, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action against a Danish bank (the “Company”) and certain of its former officers and directors alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.  Plaintiffs alleged misstatements and omissions concerning the Company’s anti-money laundering (“AML”) controls and protocols.  Plumbers & Steamfitters Local v. Danske Bank, No. 20-3231 (2d Cir. Aug. 25, 2021).  The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal for failure to allege an actionable misrepresentation or a scheme to defraud investors.
  • 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.
  • 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 Denial Of Motion For Summary Judgment In Putative Securities Fraud Class Action, Finding The Affiliated Ute  Presumption Of Reliance Did Not Apply Because Plaintiff’s Allegations Could Not Be Characterized Primarily As Claims Of Omission
     
    07/07/2021

    On June 25, 2021, a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denying summary judgment to defendants in a putative securities fraud class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder against an automobile manufacturer and its wholly owned subsidiary. In re Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, —F.3d—, 2021 WL 2621171 (9th Cir. 2021) (“In re Volkswagen”).  Plaintiff alleged that, in connection with bonds issued through three private placements, defendants made omissions and affirmative misrepresentations related to the use of emissions “defeat devices” in their vehicles.  Defendants moved for summary judgment on the reliance element of plaintiff’s claims, but the district court denied the motion, reasoning that plaintiff’s claims were based primarily on defendants’ alleged omissions rather than affirmative misstatements, and a presumption of reliance therefore applied.  Considering the issue on interlocutory appeal, a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Oregon District Court Grants Summary Judgment For Defendants Upon Motion For Reconsideration In Putative Class Action
     
    06/02/2021

    On May 24, 2021, United States Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman of the United States District Court for the District of Oregon granted summary judgment in favor of defendants upon a motion for reconsideration in a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against an industrial manufacturing company and certain of its executives.  Murphy v. Precision Castparts Corp., No. 3:16-CV-00521-SB, 2021 WL 2080016 (D. Or. May 24, 2021).  Plaintiffs primarily alleged that defendants made misrepresentations that the company remained on target to meet earnings projections.  The Court had previously granted summary judgment for defendants with respect to certain alleged misstatements, but had determined that certain statements regarding the company’s progress toward its projections contained an element of present fact and were therefore actionable.  On a motion for reconsideration based on the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Wochos v. Tesla, Inc., 985 F.3d 1180 (9th Cir. 2021), the Court dismissed these remaining allegations, holding that the challenged statements did not contain the “concrete” description of present facts that is required for such statements to be actionable.
  • 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.
  • Ninth Circuit Holds Omnicare’s Standard For Falsity Of Opinion Applies To Claims Under Section 14(a) Of The Exchange Act
     
    04/28/2021

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

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