Corporate Defense and Disputes

Important developments in U.S. securities law, white collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement and other emerging issues impacting financial services institutions, publicly traded companies and private investment funds

Tag Archives: Securities Litigation

Fifth Circuit Revives Securities Class Action Against Six Flags

Last week, the Fifth Circuit reversed a decision from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas that had dismissed a class action against Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.  The complaint in Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., et al., alleged Six Flags and its former CEO and … Continue Reading

Shining a Light on the Corporate Transparency Act: FinCEN’s Rules for Beneficial Ownership Reporting

On January 1, 2021, Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 to “better enable critical national security, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts to counter money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and other illicit activity.” FinCEN issued the final rule on Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Requirements on September … Continue Reading

Delaware Chancery Court Denies Dismissal of Challenge to SPAC Merger Disclosures

The Delaware Court of Chancery yesterday denied a motion to dismiss a class action alleging that the directors and sponsor of a special-purpose acquisition company (a “SPAC”) breached their fiduciary duties by disloyally depriving the SPAC’s public stockholders of information material to their decision whether to redeem their stock before the SPAC merged with a … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Questions Use of Criminal Insider-Trading Statute Without Proof of Receipt of Personal Benefit

The Second Circuit held yesterday that a government agency’s nonpublic, pre-decisional regulatory information does not constitute “property” for purposes of the federal insider-trading and wire-fraud statutes.  The decision in United States v. Blaszczak (2d Cir. Dec. 27, 2022) (“Blaszczak II”) effectively vacated convictions under those statutes for defendants who had traded on nonpublic, market-moving information that had … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Holds that Social Media Communications Can Satisfy Statutory-Seller Requirement Under Securities Act

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held today that social media and other mass communications concerning securities can constitute solicitations potentially creating statutory-seller liability under § 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933.  The decision in Pino v. Cardone Capital, LLC (9th Cir. Dec. 21, 2022) joins a recent Eleventh Circuit ruling in rejecting the need … Continue Reading

In The Zone? When Directors of Portfolio Companies Have to Take Creditor Interests into Account

Representatives of asset managers often take up positions on the boards of portfolio companies. We have written posts before on some of the litigation and regulatory risks that can arise, both for the asset managers and the individuals including: Portfolio Company Risk: Plaintiffs Set Sights on Sponsors and Board Directors, The Trend of Increasing Disclosure Obligations for Private … Continue Reading

Father Sometimes Knows Best: District Court Blasts SEC’s “No Admit, No Deny” Provisions

In a scathing opinion, Southern District of New York Judge Ronnie Abrams recently blasted the SEC’s standard demand that defendants settling with the Commission agree never to deny the allegations against them.  Judge Abrams’ decision in SEC v. Moraes reluctantly approved a consent decree containing the usual “no admit, no deny” provision in light of … Continue Reading

Keeping Up With Kim Kardashian’s SEC Charges

The SEC spread its reach to Hollywood this month – on October 3, 2022, the SEC announced charges against Kim Kardashian for her social media promotions of EMAX, a digital token issued by EthereumMax. The SEC found that Kardashian violated the anti-touting provision of the federal securities laws by failing to disclose the $250,000 payment … Continue Reading

Cryptic Guidance? Despite Regulatory Ambiguity, New SEC Enforcement Could Drive Increase in Cryptocurrency-Related Shareholder Class Actions   

In late-July, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought insider trading charges against a former manager at Coinbase—the largest crypto asset trading platform in the United States. The charges are the latest move in the agency’s efforts to regulate cryptocurrency, and could spur an increase in cryptocurrency-related securities litigation.… Continue Reading

Delaware Supreme Court Allows Use of “Reliable” Hearsay to Support Books-and-Records Demand

The Delaware Supreme Court held yesterday that a stockholder seeking to inspect corporate books and records may use “reliable” hearsay to establish the propriety of the purpose of the inspection demand. The decision in NVIDIA Corp. v. City of Westland Police and Fire Retirement System (July 19, 2022) does not appear to break new ground on … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Extensive New Rules Applicable to SPACs and de-SPAC Transactions

This week, our corporate colleagues published a handy guide to the SEC’s new proposed rules on SPACs. Of particular note to securities watchers should be potential increases in litigation stemming from changes to the definition of “blank check company” for the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PSLRA”). The SEC has long given … Continue Reading

Securities Litigation: An Emerging Strategy to Hold Companies Accountable for Privacy Protections

A California federal judge rejected Zoom Video Communications, Inc.’s motion to dismiss securities fraud claims against it, and its CEO and CFO, for misrepresenting Zoom’s privacy protections. Although there have been a number of cases challenging inadequate privacy protections on consumer protection grounds in recent years, this decision shifts the spotlight to an additional front … Continue Reading

SEC Defeats Motion to Dismiss Insider-Trading Complaint Alleging Novel “Shadow Trading” Theory

The SEC prevailed on a motion to dismiss a closely watched lawsuit alleging that the defendant had engaged in insider trading based on news about a not-yet-public corporate acquisition when he purchased securities of a company not involved in that deal.  The January 14, 2022 decision in SEC v. Panuwat (N.D. Cal.) marks the first time … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Holds that Accurately Reported Financial Statements Are Not Actionable and that Materiality Has a Half-Life

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held earlier this week that a company’s accurately reported financial statements are not misleading simply because they do not disclose that alleged misconduct might have contributed to the company’s financial results. The court also ruled that alleged misstatements made three to four years before the plaintiffs … Continue Reading

MNPI Update: SEC Pursues “Shadow Trading” Insider Trading Case

The SEC recently charged a former employee of a biopharmaceutical company with insider trading in advance of an acquisition but with a unique twist: Trading the securities of a company unrelated to the merger. The employee, Matthew Panuwat, did not trade his own company’s or the acquiring company’s securities, but instead purchased stock options for … Continue Reading

Decision Diagnostics Saga Continues as Investors Bring Suit

In December, the SEC filed a complaint against Decision Diagnostics and its CEO, Keith Berman, for falsely claiming the company had developed a finger prick blood test that could instantaneously detect COVID-19.  As stated in its complaint, the SEC temporarily suspended trading of Decision Diagnostics’ securities on April 23, 2020. Now, investors have brought suit … Continue Reading

The “ABC’s” of ESG

In 2020, trillions of dollars flooded ESG funds, and many analysts are expecting this trend to continue in 2021. BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, plans to have $1.2 trillion in ESG assets in the next 10 years, and an estimated one-third of all U.S. assets under management are already sustainably invested.  Given the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Consider Securities Class Action Issue

On December 11, 2020, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in a shareholder securities litigation against Goldman Sachs.[1] On appeal, Goldman argues that federal securities law permits issuer defendants in purported class actions to rebut the presumption of reliance where the alleged misstatements are of such a generic nature that they could not be … Continue Reading

Dutch Court Denies Approval of Collective Settlement Unless Changes Are Made as to Allocation of Compensation and Fees

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal denied approval of the €1.204 billion collective settlement of former Fortis (now Ageas) shareholders’ claims unless the parties agree to restructure the allocation of the settlement amount among class members and the compensation for the organizations that filed the proceeding. The court’s June 16, 2017 decision does not undermine the use of … Continue Reading

Non-Use Agreement Need Not Precede Disclosure of Confidential Information

A Pennsylvania federal court held yesterday that an agreement not to use confidential inside information for trading purposes need not precede the receipt of that information in order to create liability under the misappropriation theory of insider trading. The ruling in SEC v. Cooperman (E.D. Pa.) appears to be the first decision to address the “novel … Continue Reading

California Federal Court Holds that U.S. Securities Laws Apply to Sponsored, Unlisted ADRs

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held on January 4, 2017 that the federal securities laws apply to U.S. transactions in sponsored, but unlisted, American Depositary Receipts (“ADRs”) for a foreign issuer’s shares. The decision in In re Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation adds to the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Hears Argument on Meaning of “Personal Benefit” in Insider Trading

All eyes were on the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday as it heard arguments in Salman v. United States (No. 15-628) concerning the “personal benefit” required to establish a claim for insider trading. After an hour punctuated by the Justices’ constant questioning of attorneys for both the defendant and the government, it appears unlikely that the Supreme Court … Continue Reading

Second Circuit Affirms Exclusion of Certain Foreign Purchasers and Purchases from Securities Class Action

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a lengthy opinion today in the long-running In re Vivendi, S.A. Securities Litigation, affirming the jury’s verdict on liability and addressing issues about loss causation and expert-witness testimony.  But the tail on the proverbial dog also dealt with another set of issues that this blog … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Adopts Trulia Standard for Disclosure-Only Settlements

Last week, in an opinion authored by Judge Richard Posner, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected a proposed class-action settlement arising from Walgreen Co.’s acquisition of the Swiss-based pharmacy company, Alliance Boots GmbH. In re Walgreen Co. Stockholder Litigation, No. 15-3799 (7th Circ. Aug. 10, 2016).  Judge Posner’s sharply-worded opinion endorsed … Continue Reading
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