The en banc Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a shareholder derivative action in light of an exclusive-forum bylaw requiring assertion of derivative claims in the Delaware Court of Chancery, even though the plaintiff had pled a federal claim that was subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction and could not have been litigated in the Delaware court. The June 1, 2023 ruling in Lee ex rel. The Gap, Inc. v. Fisher could further encourage the adoption of similar forum-selection provisions and could discourage shareholders’ efforts to circumvent state-forum provisions by filing derivative actions alleging federal-law proxy claims in federal court.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that purchasers of shares sold to the public through a direct listing cannot sue under Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933 unless they can trace their shares to an allegedly defective registration statement. The short, unanimous decision in Slack Technologies, Inc. v. Pirani (June 1, 2023) appears likely to increase the difficulty of pleading § 11 claims arising from direct listings, thereby requiring dissatisfied purchasers to resort to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which imposes stricter standards for liability. The Court declined to comment on Securities Act § 12(a)(2)’s requirements, leaving the issue for the Ninth Circuit on remand.
One of the more intriguing rulings of this Supreme Court Term is the Court’s one-sentence order yesterday dismissing as improvidently granted the writ of certiorari issued in Emulex Corp. v. Varjabedian (No. 18-459). The Court had taken the case to review a Circuit split on the liability standard under § 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act, which regulates tender offers. Along the way, however, the petitioner argued that a private right of action does not exist at all under § 14(e) – an issue that had not been raised in the lower courts. That issue occupied a large portion of the oral argument held on April 15, 2019, with the parties and the Justices exploring whether the Court should entertain the previously unraised issue and, if so, what the outcome should be.
The Supreme Court confirmed today that the “personal benefit” required to establish a claim for insider trading can consist of making a gift of material, nonpublic information to a family member or friend and that an exchange of “something of a pecuniary or similarly valuable nature” is not required. The…
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held today that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s disgorgement provision – which requires disgorgement of certain CEO and CFO compensation when an issuer restates its financial statements “as a result of misconduct” – applies even if the CEO and CFO were not personally involved in the misconduct. Although several district courts had previously reached that conclusion, the Ninth Circuit’s decision in SEC v. Jensen appears to be the first appellate ruling on the issue.
The Ninth Circuit also held in Jensen that the SEC’s Rule 13a-14 – which requires CEOs and CFOs to certify the accuracy of the issuer’s financial statements – provides the SEC with a right of action against officers who certify false or misleading financial statements.
On Monday April 25, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in United States v. Shaw, a closely watched case out of the Ninth Circuit addressing the bank fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1344. That statute has two subsections, the first of which criminalizes schemes “to defraud a financial institution.” The question presented in Shaw is whether that subsection requires that a financial institution be the principal victim of a fraudulent scheme, or whether deceiving a financial institution in the course of victimizing a third party is enough for a violation. In its decision, the Ninth Circuit joined the Sixth and Eighth Circuits in holding that a violation does not require that a fraudulent scheme victimize a financial institution. The other nine circuits have all held the opposite.
Last week, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision that could affect analyses of corporate scienter in securities class actions. The court reversed the dismissal of In re ChinaCast Education Corporation Securities Litigation and held that a malfeasant executive’s knowledge could be imputed to his or her company when the executive acted with apparent authority. The court also observed that, “as a practical matter,” the adverse-interest exception presumptively does not apply in fraud-on-the-market securities class actions.
The Supreme Court today refused to grant review of the Second Circuit’s restrictive insider-trading decision in United States v. Newman. The Government, through the Solicitor General, had asked the Supreme Court to clarify the nature of the “personal benefit” that a tipper must receive in order to create liability for insider trading. But the Supreme Court declined to take the case.