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  • District Of New Jersey Largely Upholds Claims In Putative Class Action Alleging Misleading Asbestos-Related Liability Projections
     
    05/27/2020

    On May 18, 2020, Judge William J. Martini of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder against a consumer and industrial products company and certain of its executives.  Kanefsky v. Honeywell Int’l Inc., No. 18-cv-15536, slip op. (D.N.J. May 18, 2020), ECF No. 106.  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations in SEC filings and public statements regarding the projected asbestos liability arising from its acquisition of a manufacturer of automobile brakes.  The Court held that plaintiff adequately alleged falsity, scienter, and loss causation as to certain alleged misstatements.
     
  • Eastern District Of New York Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Subscription-Based Meal Kit Company But Rejects Claims Based On Alleged Omission Of Intra-Quarter Decline In Key Metric
     
    05/12/2020

    On April 22, 2020, Judge William F. Kuntz II, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative securities fraud class action based on purportedly misleading statements in the prospectus and registration statement (the “Offering Materials”) filed by a subscription-based meal kit service (the “Company”) in connection with its initial public offering (“IPO”).  The complaint asserted claims under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 against the Company and certain of its officers.  In re Blue Apron Holdings, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 17-CV-4846 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 22, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company, which provides meal kits to customers through a weekly subscription service, concealed known risks and made misleading statements concerning challenges the Company faced with one of its product fulfilment centers.  Although the Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss claims that the Company had failed to disclose risks associated with the performance of this fulfillment center, it rejected plaintiffs’ claims based on the alleged non-disclosure of declines in a Company statistic for measuring the number of meal kits delivered on time with all of their ingredients, which were announced by the Company in the quarter immediately following the IPO.  Confirming that Section 11 claims generally cannot be based on disclosures in earnings announcements following an offering, even when the quarterly earnings announcements closely follow, the Court held that the complaint failed to allege sufficiently that the declines were known even though the quarter ended one day after the IPO.
     
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Complaint Against A Ticketing Platform Provider For Failure To Plead Falsity
     
    05/12/2020

    On April 28, 2020, Judge Edward J. Davila of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities fraud class action based on purportedly misleading statements in the prospectus and registration statement (the “Offering Materials”) filed by a ticketing platform provider (the “Company”) in connection with its initial public offering (“IPO”).  The complaint asserted claims under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against the Company and certain of its officers, and violations of Section of 11 of the Securities Act against the underwriters for the IPO.  In re Eventbrite Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 5:18-CV-02019-EJD (N.D. Cal. Apr. 28, 2020).  In granting the motion to dismiss, the Court held that it could rely on documents incorporated into the complaint by reference to negate conclusory allegations in the complaint and for context, and further held that plaintiffs failed to adequately plead falsity and that the Company, in any event, sufficiently disclosed risks associated with the acquisition.  The Court also held that the heightened pleading requirements of Rule 9(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applied to the Section 11 claims and that its risk disclosures were sufficient under Item 303.
     
  • Northern District Of California Declines To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Enterprise Software Company
     
    05/05/2020

    On April 28, 2020, Judge Susan Illston of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder against an enterprise software company and certain of its executives.  Roberts v. Zuora, Inc., No. 19-cv-03422-SI, slip op. (N.D. Cal. Apr. 28, 2020), ECF No. 75.  Plaintiff alleged that, prior to its initial public offering, the company misstated that its two flagship products could be integrated together and that such integration was a key part of its business strategy, when in fact the product integration was not functional.  The Court held that plaintiff adequately alleged that such statements were false or misleading and made with the requisite scienter.
     
  • District Of New Jersey Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Blockchain Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misstatements Or “Scheme” Liability
     
    05/05/2020

    On April 30, 2020, Chief Judge Freda L. Wolfson of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder against a company that supports and operates blockchain technologies and certain of its executives and investors.  Takata v. Riot Blockchain, Inc., No. 18-02293 (FLW), slip op. (D. N.J. Apr. 30, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants engaged in a “pump-and-dump” scheme to inflate the price of the company’s stock before selling to unsuspecting retail investors.  Id.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to adequately allege any actionable misrepresentations and otherwise failed to establish “scheme” liability, and dismissed the action without prejudice.
     
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Securities Fraud Claims Against Biopharmaceutical Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misstatements Or Scienter
     
    05/05/2020

    On April 28, 2020, Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder against a biopharmaceutical company and certain of its executives.  Schaeffer v. Nabriva Therapeutics plc, No. 19-cv-4183, slip op. (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 28, 2020), ECF No. 40.  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made false or misleading statements suggesting that a drug it submitted to the FDA for marketing approval would be approved in 2019.  The Court held that the alleged misstatements were either non-actionable puffery, or were protected forward-looking statements, or were not sufficiently alleged to have been made with scienter.
     
  • Northern District Of California Denies In Part Motion To Dismiss Securities Act Claims Against Software Company, Finding That Plaintiff Met Section 11 “Tracing” Requirements In Connection With Direct Listing Of Preexisting Shares
     
    04/28/2020

    On April 21, 2020, Judge Susan Illston of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action lawsuit asserting claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against a software company (the “Company”), certain of its executives and directors, and three venture capital firms (the “VC Defendants”) that held a significant percentage of the Company’s voting power.  Fiyyaz Pirani v. Slack Technologies, Inc., et. al., No. 19-cv-05857-SI (N.D. Cal. Apr. 21, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants were liable for materially misleading statements and omissions concerning the Company’s service outages, competition, scalability, and growth strategy in offering materials in connection with the Company’s direct listing of preexisting shares to the public.  The Court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss, and granted plaintiff leave to amend to cure the amended complaint’s deficiencies.
     
  • Arizona Federal Court Upholds Rule 10b-5(b) Claims Against Renewable Energy Company And Its Executives, But Dismisses 10b-5(a) And (c) Claims
     
    04/21/2020

    On April 8, 2020, Chief Judge G. Murray Snow of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action filed against a renewable energy company (“Company”) and its executives, alleging violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and SEC Rule 10b-5.  Zhu v. Taronis Techs. Inc., 2020 WL 1703680 (D. Ariz. Apr. 8, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged defendants misled investors about the existence of a contract with the City of San Diego.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss as to plaintiffs’ claims under Rule 10b-5(b) but granted the motion as to claims asserted under Rule 10b-5(a) and (c).
     
  • Eighth Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action Against Major American Retailer For Failure To Adequately Plead Falsity And Scienter
     
    04/21/2020

    On April 10, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action against a large American retailer (the “Company”) and certain of its current and former executives for violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and SEC Rule 10b-5.  In re Target Corp. Sec. Litig., 2020 WL 1814268 (8th Cir. 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made materially misleading statements about problems facing the Company’s Canadian subsidiary (“Canadian Subsidiary”), which filed for bankruptcy less than two years after opening in the Canadian market.  The district court dismissed the action, holding that plaintiffs failed to meet the pleading standards of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (“PSLRA”), and denied reconsideration and leave to amend.  The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiffs failed to plead scienter adequately for any of the alleged misleading statements and falsity for some of the alleged misstatements. 
     
  • Northern District Of California Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Automaker Alleging Misstatements Based On CEO’s Social Media Posts
     
    04/21/2020

    On April 15, 2020, Judge Edward M. Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities fraud class action asserting violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 against a designer and manufacturer of electric cars (the “Company”), its co-founder and CEO and its directors.  In re Tesla Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 3:18-cv-04865 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 15, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that the statements made by the Company’s CEO on Twitter regarding securing funding for a going-private transaction were materially misleading.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, finding that plaintiff adequately pleaded falsity, scienter, and loss causation.
     
  • Southern District Of New York Certifies Class After Again Paring Claims Against Pharmaceutical Company
     
    04/14/2020

    On April 6, 2020, Judge J. Paul Oetken of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York partially granted a motion to dismiss claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a pharmaceutical company and certain of its executives, and then granted plaintiffs’ unopposed motion for class certification.  In re Mylan N.V. Sec. Litig., No. 16-CV-7926 (JPO), 2020 WL 1673811 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 6, 2020).  As noted in our prior posts regarding the company’s motions to dismiss the first and second amended complaints, plaintiffs alleged that defendants made misleading statements regarding, among other things, an alleged rebate scheme involving the company’s EpiPen, and that defendants engaged in an illegal conspiracy to inflate the prices for various of the company’s generic drugs.  After plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint attempting to address deficiencies identified by the Court in its prior opinions, the Court held that plaintiffs had met their burden to plead scienter with respect to some, but not all, of the alleged misstatements.
     
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Automotive Seating Manufacturer For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations And Scienter
     
    04/14/2020

    On April 2, 2020, Judge Ronnie Abrams 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 manufacturer of automotive seating and certain of its executives.  In re Adient PLC Sec. Lit., No. 18-CV-9116 (RA) (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 2, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made false and misleading statements with respect to improvements in the projected margin of “Adient,” a business spun off of its parent company, and in a particular Adient business segment (the “Metals” segment).  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege an actionable misstatement or scienter, and, noting that plaintiffs had already voluntarily amended their complaint after defendants filed a previous motion to dismiss, denied leave to amend.
  • District Of Connecticut Dismisses Securities Class Action Against A Consumer Financial Services Company, Certain Of Its Officers And Directors And Its Underwriters, Holding That Plaintiffs Failed To Adequately Allege Any Material Misrepresentations
     
    04/07/2020

    On March 31, 2020, Judge Victor A. Bolden of the District of Connecticut dismissed a putative securities class action against a provider of private label credit cards (the “Company”), certain of its officers and directors, and its underwriters in connection with a notes offering.  In re Synchrony Financial Sec. Litig., No. 3:18-cv-1818 (VAB) (D. Conn. Mar. 31, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged violations of Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) by all defendants, as well as Section 15 of the Securities Act against the individual defendants.  Plaintiffs also alleged violations of Sections 10(b), 20A, and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) by the Company and certain of the individual defendants.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint in its entirety with prejudice.
     
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Shoe Manufacturer For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations And Scienter
     
    03/24/2020


    On March 12, 2020, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a shoe manufacturer and certain of its executives.  In re Skechers USA, Inc. Sec. Lit., No. 18-CV-8039 (NRB) (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 12, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misstatements and omissions in earnings calls and SEC filings regarding the growth rate of expenses in comparison to the growth rate of sales.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to adequately allege either an actionable misrepresentation or scienter, and denied leave to amend.

     
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Alleging Misleading Statements About Company Workplace Environment And Culture
     
    03/24/2020


    On March 16, 2020, Judge Kimba Wood of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a restaurant chain and certain of its executives.  Oklahoma Law Enforcement Ret. Sys. v. Papa John’s Int’l, Inc., No. 18-CV-7927 (KMW), 2020 WL 1243808 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 16, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misleading public statements regarding the company’s culture while at the same time enabling workplace sexual harassment.  The Court held that plaintiff had failed to adequately allege any actionable misstatements or omissions but granted plaintiff leave to amend to attempt to cure the deficiencies.

     
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Technology Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter
     
    03/24/2020


    On March 16, 2020, Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a putative class action against a technology company and its executives asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Iron Workers Loc. 580 Jt. Funds v. NVIDIA Corp., No. 18-CV-07669-HSG, 2020 WL 1244936 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations regarding its sales of graphic processing units (“GPUs”) for computer gaming and the proportion of such sales that were actually made to cryptocurrency miners—for which demand was allegedly more volatile.  The Court dismissed the action, holding that plaintiffs failed to adequately plead that the alleged misstatements were materially false or made with scienter, while permitting plaintiffs to file an amended complaint to attempt to cure these deficiencies.

     
  • Northern District Of California Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Software Company, Finding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Allege Falsity Or Scienter With Respect To Alleged Material Omissions
     
    03/17/2020

    On March 9, 2020, Judge William H. Orrick of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, against a software company (the “Company”) and two of its executive officers.  Ryan Scheller, et. al. v. Nutanix, Inc., et. al., No. 19-cv-01651-WHO (N.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged—based primarily on statements allegedly made by seven confidential witnesses (the “CWs”)—that defendants made false and misleading statements and omissions concerning, among other things, the Company’s internal operations, business relationships, product quality, and sales performance.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that plaintiffs failed to allege that the Company’s public statements were false or misleading, and that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege scienter.
     
  • New York State Supreme Court Grants In Part Motion To Dismiss Securities Act Claims, Holding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Allege Falsity With Respect To Alleged Omissions Regarding Changes To The Company’s Business Model, But Holding That An Issue Of Fact Exists Concerning Alleged Misstatements Regarding The Company’s Financial And Operational Data
     
    03/17/2020

    On March 9, 2020, Justice Andrew Borrok of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, Commercial Division, granted in part a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Sections 11, 12 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) against a used car e-commerce company (the “Company”), certain of its executives and directors, and the underwriters for its initial public offering (“IPO”) of American Depository Shares (“ADSs”).  In re Uxin Limited Securities Litigation, No. 650427/2019 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Mar. 9, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made materially false and misleading statements and omissions concerning changes to the Company’s business model and certain financial and operational data reported by the Company in connection with its IPO.  The Court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss.
     
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Securities Fraud Complaint Against An Insurance Company, Finding That Confidential Witness Statements And Short-Seller Reports Were Not Sufficiently Particularized To Allege An Actionable Misstatement Or Omission
     
    03/11/2020

    On March 2, 2020, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative securities fraud class action asserting violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 against a foreign insurance company (the “Company”) and certain current and former officers (the “individual defendants,” and collectively, “defendants”).  Long v. Fanhua Inc. et al., No. 1:18-CV-08183 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 2, 2020).  Plaintiff, who commenced the action on behalf of all persons who purchased the Company’s American Depository Shares (“ADSs”), alleged that defendants failed to disclose certain related-party dealings and that the Company’s stock price declined once those dealings were disclosed to the market.  The Court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint and held that plaintiff’s reliance on uncorroborated short-seller reports was insufficient to state a claim. 
     
  • Central District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Real Estate Investment Trust For Failure To Adequately Allege Misrepresentations
     
    03/03/2020

    On February 21, 2020, Judge George H. Wu of the United States District Court for the Central District of California adopted as final its tentative ruling, dated February 20, dismissing a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a real estate investment trust and certain of its executives.  Brian Barry v. Colony NorthStar, Inc. et al., No. 18-CV-02888 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 21, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that the company made misrepresentations in public statements regarding financial projections and fundraising that were misleading because those projections had become unreachable.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to allege an actionable misstatement or omission and, because plaintiff had already amended its complaint twice before, the Court denied leave to amend.
     
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Mining Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Actionable Omissions Or Scienter
     
    03/03/2020

    On February 27, 2020, Judge Loretta A. Preska of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a precious metals mining company and certain of its executives.  In Re Pretium Resources Inc. Sec. Lit., No. 18-CV-08199 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 27, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misleading public statements expressing confidence in an existing plan for a particular gold mine, notwithstanding substantially increased excavation costs the mine was facing.  As noted by the Court and discussed in our prior post, the Southern District of New York previously dismissed another action filed against the company regarding alleged misrepresentations relating to its projections for the same mine.  Here, too, the Court held that plaintiffs failed to allege an actionable omission or scienter.
     
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Certain Claims In Putative Class Action Against Cryptocurrency Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity
     
    03/03/2020

    On February 26, 2020, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed certain claims in a putative class action asserting violations of the Securities Act of 1933 and California state law by a cryptocurrency firm and certain of its executives.  Vladi Zakinov, et al. v. Ripple Labs, Inc., et al., No. 18-CV-06753-PJH (N.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2020).  Plaintiff alleged that the cryptocurrency created by the company was an unregistered security and, further, that the company had misrepresented the cryptocurrency’s long-term value.  The Court held that plaintiff had sufficiently alleged that the cryptocurrency was an unregistered security, but dismissed the misrepresentation claims for failure to allege an actionable misstatement or omission.
     
  • Northern District Of Ohio Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Aerospace Component Company, Finding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Allege Materiality Or Loss Causation With Respect To Alleged Misstatements And Omissions
     
    02/25/2020

    On February 19, 2020, Judge Pamela A. Barker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action, asserting claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, against an aerospace component design and manufacturing company (the “Company”) and two of its executive officers.  In re TransDigm Group Inc., No. 17-cv-01677-PAB (N.D. Ohio Feb. 19, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made materially false and misleading statements and omissions concerning the Company’s operations, business, and prospects that resulted in a drop in the Company’s stock price when the Company made certain purported corrective disclosures.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ Third Amended Complaint, finding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege materiality or loss causation, and denied leave to amend.
     
  • Middle District Of Florida Dismisses Securities Fraud Action Against Foodservice Equipment Company For Failure To Plead Scienter
     
    02/19/2020

    On February 6, 2020, Judge James S. Moody, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed a putative class action asserting violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder against a foodservice equipment company (the “Company”) and certain of its former officers.  Metropolitan Transportation Authority Defined Benefit Pension Plan Master Trust v. Welbilt Inc., No. 8:18-cv-03007 (M.D. Fl. Feb. 6, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company made misleading statements about its disclosure controls in quarterly and annual reports from February 2017 to November 2018, and that its share price fell after it revealed that its financial statements should not be relied upon because of various accounting and reporting errors.  The Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice, holding that plaintiffs failed to plead sufficient facts to give rise to a strong inference of scienter.
     
  • District Of Delaware Partially Sustains Securities Fraud Case Against Automotive Parts Distributor For False Sales Growth Projections
     
    02/19/2020

    On February 7, 2020, Judge Richard G. Andrews of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware granted in part and denied in part motions to dismiss a putative securities class action against an automotive aftermarket parts provider (the “Company”), certain members of its management (the “Company Individual Defendants”), a hedge fund that owned approximately four percent of the Company’s shares, and the fund’s Chief Executive Officer who was a member of the Company’s board of directors.  In re Advance Auto Parts, Inc., Sec. Litig., No. CV-18-212-RGA (D. Del. Feb. 7, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by making misleading misstatements and omissions about the Company’s projected growth and financial condition.  The Court dismissed the claims to the extent it found them to be puffery or lacking sufficient allegations of falsity, but denied the motion with respect to claims based on statements related to projections and opinions regarding the Company’s financial outlook. 
     
  • Northern District Of California Pares Claims In Putative Class Action Against Food Supplement Manufacturer
     
    02/11/2020

    On February 4, 2020, Judge James Donato of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California partially dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a food supplement company and certain of its former executives.  In Re TerraVia Holdings, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 16-CV-06633-JD, 2020 WL 553939 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 4, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations regarding the health benefits and commercial viability of certain ingredients it created and sourced for its food manufacturing partners, based on the company having received reports that these ingredients were causing illnesses, ultimately leading to product recalls.  The Court held that certain of the alleged misstatements were non-actionable, but that plaintiffs’ allegations respecting certain other alleged misstatements were sufficient to state a claim.
  • Maryland District Court Dismisses Majority Of Claims In Putative Class Action Against Media Company
     
    02/11/2020

    On February 4, 2020, Judge Catherine C. Blake of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed certain claims in a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a media company and certain of its executives.  In re Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. Sec. Litig., slip op., No. 18-cv-2445 (D. Md. Feb. 4, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made various misstatements to the FCC in connection with an ultimately unsuccessful merger with another media company, and that the company had engaged in an illegal price-fixing conspiracy regarding advertising rates.  The Court dismissed most of plaintiffs’ claims, but held that plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged falsity and scienter with respect to certain specific statements concerning proposed divestitures in connection with the merger.
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Tobacco Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter
     
    02/11/2020

    On February 4, 2020, Judge Ronnie Abrams of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a tobacco company and certain of its executives.  In re Philip Morris Int’l Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 18-CV-08049 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 4, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations in securities filings and public statements regarding clinical studies it published in connection with its application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell its vapor-based product in the United States and to market it as presenting a lower risk than traditional tobacco products.  Plaintiffs also alleged that the company made misrepresentations regarding sales growth in Japan for the same product.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to allege an actionable misstatement or omission or to establish scienter, but granted leave to amend with respect to certain allegations.
  • Northern District Of Illinois Sustains But Pares Putative Class Actions Against Pharmaceutical Company
     
    02/11/2020

    On February 5, 2020, Judge Matthew F. Kennelly of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois sustained some but not all claims in a putative class action asserting violations of Sections 10(b) and 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a pharmaceutical company and certain of its executives.  Twin Master Fund, Ltd. v. Akorn, Inc., No. 19-CV-3648 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 05, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company knowingly made false statements and omissions regarding the company’s compliance with FDA regulations governing data integrity and manufacturing in public statements and filings and in a publicly filed merger agreement.  The Court held that plaintiffs had adequately alleged misrepresentations as to a number of statements, but dismissed plaintiffs’ claims with respect to certain others.
  • Northern District Of California Grants Motion To Dismiss Securities Fraud Claims Against Pharmaceutical Company, Finding That Plaintiffs Did Not Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter With Respect To Alleged Material Omissions
     
    02/05/2020

    On January 27, 2020, Judge Richard G. Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, against a pharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and two of its executive officers.  Immanuel Lake, et al. v. Zogenix, Inc., et. al., No. 19-cv-01975-RS (N.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2020).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made material omissions concerning the Company’s New Drug Application (“NDA”) it was submitting to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for a medication designed to treat seizures.  According to plaintiffs, the Company’s stock price fell approximately 20% when the alleged omission was revealed to the market through the FDA’s rejection of the NDA.  The Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege a misstatement or omission of a material fact and scienter, but granted leave to amend.
     
  • District Of Nevada Denies Motion To Dismiss Putative Class Action Against Life Science Company Alleging Misstatements Regarding Patentability Of Key Product
     
    12/19/2019

    On December 10, 2019, Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a life science company specializing in cannabidiols (“CBD”) and certain of the company’s executives.  In re CV Sciences, Inc. Sec. Litig., 2019 WL 6718086 (D. Nev. Dec. 10, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misleading statements that a CBD product was proprietary and had a patent application pending by failing to disclose that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) had rejected its patent application twice, including a “final rejection” on the ground that the proposed invention was obvious.  Id. at *1.  The Court held that plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged the falsity of the alleged misrepresentations at the motion-to-dismiss stage, and therefore declined to dismiss the complaint.
  • Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Putative Class Action For Failure To Allege With Particularity Illegal Acts Underlying Alleged Misrepresentations
     
    12/19/2019

    On December 10, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a putative class action asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a chicken producing company and certain of its executives.  Gamm v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., —F.3d—, 2019 WL 6704666 (2d Cir. 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants’ SEC filings contained misrepresentations because they failed to disclose an illegal antitrust conspiracy to drive up chicken prices by reducing supply and to manipulate a chicken price index.  The Court held that the complaint was properly dismissed because plaintiffs failed to plead with sufficient particularity facts supporting the alleged antitrust conspiracy, explaining that “when a securities fraud complaint claims that statements were rendered false or misleading through the nondisclosure of illegal activity, the facts of the underlying illegal acts must be pleaded with particularity in accordance with the requirements of Rule 9 and the PSLRA.”  Id. at *9.
  • District Of Kansas Allows Exchange Act Claims Against Financial Services Company To Proceed, Finding That Plaintiffs Adequately Alleged Material Misstatements, Omissions And Scienter
     
    12/10/2019

    On December 3, 2019, Judge John W. Lungstrum of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action involving claims brought under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, against a financial services company (the “Company”), three of its senior officers and several of its founder directors.  Yellowdog Partners, LP and Carpenters Pension Fund of Illinois v. CURO Group Holdings Corp. et al., 18-cv-02662 (D. Kan. Dec. 3, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company and the three officer defendants made false and materially misleading statements concerning the Company’s business transition away from its most profitable product and its effect on the Company’s financial condition.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss, finding that plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded falsity and scienter.
     
  • Southern District Of California Denies Summary Judgment For Defendants, Ruling That There Are Triable Issues Of Fact Related To Loss Causation, Materiality, Scienter, And Damages
     
    12/03/2019
    On November 6, 2016, Judge Michael A. Anello of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment in a securities class action against a theme park and entertainment company (“defendant” or the “Company”), certain members of its management, and its largest shareholder.  Baker v. SeaWorld Entm’t, Inc., No. 14CV2129-MMA (AGS), 2019 WL 6118448 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 18, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants violated Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by making materially misleading misstatements and omissions about the effect of Blackfish, a documentary film concerning killer whales in captivity, on attendance at the theme park and its earnings.  The Court denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the basis that there were genuine issues of material fact with respect to each element of a securities fraud claim. 
  • Middle District Of Tennessee Pares Claims In Putative Class Action Against Healthcare Company And Its Previous Owner
     
    11/26/2019

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

    On November 13, 2019, Judge Leo T. Sorokin of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed a putative securities class action involving claims brought under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, against a biopharmaceutical company (the “Company”) and two of its senior officers.  LSI Design and Integration Corp. v. Tesaro Inc. et al., 18-cv-12352 (D. Ma. Nov. 13, 2019).  Plaintiff alleged that the Company and its CEO and CFO made materially misleading statements in violation of the Exchange Act concerning the Company’s financial condition and drug sales.  The Court dismissed the amended complaint finding that plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead falsity or scienter.
     
  • Northern District Of California Allows Securities Class Action Based On Alleged Price-Fixing To Proceed Against Pharmaceutical Wholesaler
     
    11/05/2019

    On October 29, 2019, Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action brought against a pharmaceutical wholesaler and two of its former executives.  Evanston Police Pension Fund v. McKesson Corp., et al., 18-cv-06525-CRB (N.D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2019).  Plaintiffs asserted claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, alleging that defendants knew about and participated in a price-fixing conspiracy that allowed the company to profit from the inflated prices of generic drugs during the alleged class period and caused the company to suffer decreased earnings once reports revealed government investigations into alleged price-fixing and prices dropped.  The Court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiffs adequately alleged material misstatements, scienter, and loss causation at the pleading stage.
     
  • Connecticut State Court Grants Motion To Strike Securities Act Claims
     
    11/05/2019

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

    On October 18, 2019, Judge Edward J. Davila of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative class action asserting claims under Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) and Item 303 of Regulation S-K against a medical technology company (the “Company”) and certain of its executives and directors, venture capital firms, and underwriters.  In re Restoration Robotics, Inc. Securities Litigation, No. 18-cv-03712 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 18, 2019).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants made materially misleading statements and omissions concerning the Company’s marketing function, hair transplant technology, product sales and revenue in offering documents in connection with the Company’s initial public offering (“IPO”).  The Court granted in part and denied in part defendants’ motion to dismiss, and granted plaintiff leave to amend to cure the complaint’s deficiencies.
     
  • Northern District Of Illinois Dismisses Putative Class Action Against In-Flight Internet Provider For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter
     
    10/29/2019

    On October 16, 2019, Judge Jorge L. Alonso of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division dismissed a putative securities class action against an in-flight internet connectivity services provider (the “Company”) and some of its current and former executives.  Pierrelouis v. Gogo Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-04473 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 16, 2019).  Plaintiffs, who brought claims under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, alleged that defendants misrepresented the Company’s financial health and the performance and reliability of its in-flight internet services by failing to disclose the extent of a de-icing fluid issue that was affecting its ability to provide those services, and that the eventual disclosure of the issue caused the Company’s stock price to decline.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to plead a material misrepresentation or omission and also failed to adequately allege a strong inference of scienter, and therefore dismissed the amended complaint without prejudice.
     
  • Western District Of Washington Partially Dismisses Exchange Act Claims Against Technology Company
     
    10/17/2019

    On October 4, 2019, Judge Robert Lasnik of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a technology company and certain of its executives.  In re Impinj, Inc., Sec. Litig., No. C18-5704 RSL, 2019 WL 4917101 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 4, 2019).  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to alleged falsity as to certain alleged misrepresentations and dismissed claims against one of the company’s executives for failure to adequately allege scienter, but otherwise upheld plaintiffs’ claims.

     
  • Eastern District Of Pennsylvania Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Semiconductor Equipment Manufacturer For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity And Scienter
     
    10/17/2019

    On October 9, 2019, Judge C. Darnell Jones, II of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed a putative securities class action asserting claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against a manufacturer of equipment and tools used to assemble semiconductors and its CEO and CFO.  Kumar v. Kulicke & Soffa Indus., Inc., No. CV 19-0362, 2019 WL 5081896 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 9, 2019).  Based on the company’s disclosure of control deficiencies, improper transactions by an unnamed “senior finance employee,” the resignation of the company’s CFO, and amended financial statements, plaintiffs alleged that the company’s SEC filings and SOX certifications contained material misrepresentations.  Id. at *2.  The Court held that plaintiffs had identified actionable misstatements as to the CFO but had not adequately alleged scienter and, therefore, dismissed the case, while allowing plaintiffs leave to file an amended complaint.

     
  • New York State Court Dismisses Securities Act Claims, Despite Holding That Claims Did Not “Sound In Fraud” And No Heightened Pleading Standard Therefore Applied
     
    10/17/2019

    On September 26, 2019, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York State Supreme Court, County of New York, Commercial Division, dismissed a putative class action against a dental products and services company and certain of its executives and directors asserting claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2) and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933.  In re Densply Sirona, Inc. S’holders Litig., No. 155393/2018 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Cnty., Sept. 26, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants made material misrepresentations in a registration statement filed with the SEC in connection with a merger.  The crux of plaintiffs’ allegations was that the registration statement failed to disclose material information about an alleged “anticompetitive scheme” to control supply and distribution of the company’s products.  The Court held that, even though New York’s heightened pleading standard for fraud claims did not apply in the case at bar, the alleged misstatements were non-actionable statements of opinion or puffery or were not misleading when made.

     
  • Eastern District Of New York Dismisses Exchange Act Claims For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity Or Scienter
     
    10/08/2019

    On September 30, 2019, Judge Ann M. Donnelly of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed a putative securities class action asserting claims brought under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) against a footwear retailer (the “Company”) and several of its executives.  City of Warren Police and Fire Retirement System v. Foot Locker Inc. et al., 18-cv-01492 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company and its executives made materially misleading statements and omissions in violation of the Exchange Act concerning its competitive position in the market, the strength of the Company’s relationship with its vendors, and its product allocation and inventory.  The Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice, holding that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently plead falsity and scienter, and granted plaintiffs leave to amend.
  • Northern District Of Illinois Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Pharmaceutical Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Falsity Or Scienter
     
    09/24/2019

    On September 18, 2019, Judge Charles P. Kocoras of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a putative class action against a pharmaceutical company asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Section 14(e) of the Williams Act.  Walleye Trading LLC v. AbbVie, Inc., No. 18 C 05114, 2019 WL 4464392 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 18, 2019).  Plaintiff alleged that the company’s statement announcing the preliminary results of a tender offer contained misrepresentations regarding the number of shares tendered and the price per share at which the tendered shares would be acquired, which later had to be corrected in a revised statement.  The Court held that plaintiff failed to allege that the alleged misrepresentation was false when made or to adequately allege a strong inference of scienter.
  • Northern District Of California Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Digital Payments Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Scienter
     
    09/24/2019

    On September 18, 2019, Judge Edward M. Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a putative class action against a digital payment services company and certain of its officers asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act.  Sgarlata v. PayPal Holdings, Inc., 17-CV-06956-EMC (N.D. Cal. Sept. 18, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that the company made misrepresentations in a series of press releases regarding a data breach.  The Court held that plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficient to raise a strong inference of scienter. 
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses In Part Securities Fraud Claims Against Major Industrial Conglomerate, Allowing Claims Based Upon Factoring In Financial Filings To Proceed
     
    09/10/2019

    On August 29, 2019, Judge Jesse M. Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed most of the securities fraud claims in a putative class action against a major industrial conglomerate (the “Company”), and certain of its current and former executives, brought under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and SEC Rule 10b-5.  AP-Fonden v. Gen. Elec. Co., 2019 BL 325702 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 29, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged defendants concealed performance problems in the Company’s insurance and power divisions.  The Court found, among other things, that plaintiffs did not adequately plead claims based upon allegedly misrepresented liabilities in the Company’s long-term care (“LTC”) insurance portfolio.  The Court did not, however, dismiss plaintiffs’ claim that the Company failed to disclose that it used “factoring” arrangements to generate current revenue by selling future revenues to third parties.
  • Southern District Of New York Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Digital Services Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misstatements And Scienter
     
    09/04/2019

    On August 28, 2019, Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action against the digital services and development company Synacor, Inc. and certain of its officers asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Lefkowitz, et al. v. Synacor, Inc., et al., 18-CV-2979 (LGS) (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 28, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged misrepresentations regarding revenue projections relating to a contract with a major customer, the customer’s control over monetizing the contract and weaknesses in the company’s internal controls for financial reporting.  The Court held that the alleged misrepresentations in question were either not actionable or were inadequately pleaded with respect to scienter, and therefore dismissed the complaint in its entirety, but granted leave to replead. 
  • Southern District Of Florida Dismisses Putative Class Action Against Beverage Company For Failure To Adequately Allege Misstatements, Scienter And Loss Causation
     
    09/04/2019

    On August 29, 2019, Judge K. Michael Moore of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed a putative class action against National Beverage Corporation and certain of its officers asserting claims under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Luczak v. National Beverage Corporation, et al., 18-cv-61631-KMM (S.D. Fla. Aug. 29, 2019).  Plaintiff alleged that defendants’ public statements contained misrepresentations regarding the company’s main product (a brand of sparkling water), the use of purportedly unique proprietary methods to drive growth, and sexual harassment allegations with respect to the company’s CEO.  The Court held that the alleged misrepresentations were inadequately pleaded with respect to either falsity, scienter or loss causation, and therefore dismissed the complaint in its entirety.
  • District Of Maryland Dismisses Exchange Act Claims For Failure To Adequately Allege Scienter
     
    08/27/2019

    ​On August 19, 2019, Judge Richard Bennett of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland dismissed 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. Aug. 19, 2019).  Plaintiffs alleged that the Company misrepresented its financial health by concealing that consumer demand had declined and the Company had resorted to discounting to prop up its sales.  In a prior decision, the Court had dismissed plaintiffs’ claims but permitted plaintiffs to replead the Exchange Act claims to attempt to plead scienter.  The Court held, however, that plaintiffs’ further amended complaint suffered from the same defects as their prior complaint, and therefore dismissed the action with prejudice.
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