Justia Securities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Consumer Law
Construction Laborers Pension Trust Southern CA v. Marriott International, Inc.
Following a data breach targeting servers owned by Defendant, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant violated federal securities laws by omitting material information about data vulnerabilities in their public statements.The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the complaint, finding that the investors did not adequately allege that any of Defendant’s statements were false or misleading when made.The court explained that to state a claim under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and SEC Rule 10b-5, a plaintiff must first allege a “material misrepresentation or omission by the defendant.” However, not all material omissions give rise to a cause of action. Here, Plaintiffs focus on statements about the importance of protecting customer data; privacy statements on Defendant's website; and cybersecurity-related risk disclosures. The court found that Plaintiffs failed to allege that any of the challenged statements were false or rendered Defendant's public statement misleading. Although Defendant could have disseminated more information to the public about its vulnerability to cyberattacks, federal securities law does not require it to do so. View "Construction Laborers Pension Trust Southern CA v. Marriott International, Inc." on Justia Law
Baker v. Raymond James & Associates Inc.
In 2017, Plaintiffs filed suit against the Defendants. Between 2002 and 2005, Plaintiffs (all retirees from BellSouth) rolled most of their retirement assets over to Steven Savell, their financial advisor at Morgan Keegan. Savell assured Plaintiffs “he would invest [their] money in a way that would provide [them] with income for the remainder of [their] life and that [their] principal would grow over time.” Savell remained in control of these accounts until 2013. During the years Savell handled these accounts, the Plaintiffs continually sustained sizeable losses. Plaintiffs claimed that Savell improperly recommended that they invest in two unsuitable penny stocks and then marked the purchases “unsolicited” so as to prevent detection by the brokerage firm’s policy against soliciting such stock. Plaintiffs also alleged that Savell purchased for them certain annuities designed to be held for the long term, which Savell had them cash out early in order to purchase new annuities that would pay him and Morgan Keegan and/or Raymond James large commissions. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, finding that all of the Plaintiffs’ claims were time-barred. The Court of Appeals reversed with respect to the Plaintiffs’ common-law claims, finding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to when Plaintiffs learned or through reasonable diligence should have learned of Defendants’ alleged malfeasance. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted certiorari on Defendants’ claim that the Court of Appeals misapplied the latent-injury discovery-rule exception to the catch-all three-year limitations period provided by Mississippi Code Section 15-1-49 (Rev. 2019). Because the Supreme Court found no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Plaintiffs’ common-law claims were time barred, it reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision and reinstated the trial court’s judgment. View "Baker v. Raymond James & Associates Inc." on Justia Law
NTV Management, Inc. v. Lightship Global Ventures, LLC
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the trial judge's order setting aside the jury verdict and reinstated the original judgment in favor of Plaintiff, holding that the contract at issue in this appeal did not require an obligation that Plaintiff register as a securities broker-dealer under Massachusetts and Federal securities laws.Plaintiff sued Defendant alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. A jury found Defendant liable on all claims and awarded treble damages. Thereafter, the judge set aside the jury's verdict in its entirety, concluding that Plaintiff had been required to register as a securities broker-dealer and that its failure to do so rendered its contract with Defendant invalid and unenforceable. The contract required Plaintiff to "source capital and structure financing transactions from agreed-upon investors and/or lenders" for Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) the contract, on its face, did not require Plaintiff to "effect" transactions in "securities"; and (2) because Plaintiff's purported obligation to register as a broker-dealer was the sole basis for the judge's decision that Plaintiff could not maintain its breach of contract and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claims, the judge's decision to set aside the jury verdict was erroneous. View "NTV Management, Inc. v. Lightship Global Ventures, LLC" on Justia Law
Rossetta v. CitiMortgage, Inc.
Plaintiff Antoinette Rossetta appealed the dismissal of her second amended complaint after the trial court sustained a demurrer by defendants CitiMortgage, Inc. (CitiMortgage) and U.S. Bank National Association as Trustee for Citicorp Residential Trust Series 2006-1 (2006-1 Trust). The complaint asserted multiple causes of action sounding in tort, and unlawful business practices in violation of the Unfair Competition Law arising from loan modification negotiations spanning more than two years. Rossetta also appealed the trial court’s dismissal of a cause of action for conversion that appeared in an earlier iteration of the complaint to which CitiMortgage and the 2006-1 Trust (collectively, CitiMortgage, unless otherwise indicated) also successfully demurred. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded: (1) the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer to the causes of action for negligence and violations of the Unfair Competition Law; (2) the trial court properly sustained the demurrer to the causes of action for intentional misrepresentation and promissory estoppel, but should have granted leave to amend to give Rossetta an opportunity to state a viable cause of action based on an alleged oral promise to provide her with a Trial Period Plan (TPP) under the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) in April 2012; and (3) the trial court properly sustained the demurrer to the causes of action for negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conversion without leave to amend. View "Rossetta v. CitiMortgage, Inc." on Justia Law
Federal Trade Comm’r v. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC
In 2011 and 2012, a number of individuals and closely held corporations known as Treasure Your Success (TYS) operated a fraudulent credit card interest reduction scheme. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC (Universal) violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), 16 C.F.R. 310.1 et seq., by providing substantial assistance to the TYS schemers. The district court found that a violation of the TSR constitutes an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. As such, the district court was authorized to order restitution and disgorgement. Furthermore, the court clarified that substantial assistance under the TSR was itself sufficient to justify joint and several liability. The court reaffirmed its order holding Universal jointly and severally liable; Universal contended that was error and joint and several liability can only lie where the defendant is a participant in a common enterprise with the primary violators. The Eleventh Circuit concluded after review the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding Universal jointly and severally liable with the members of the TYS scheme. View "Federal Trade Comm'r v. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC" on Justia Law
Maybank v. BB&T
This appeal arose out of a $17 million verdict rendered in favor of Francis Maybank for claims sounding in contract, tort, and the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA). Maybank brought this action alleging he received faulty investment advice from Branch Banking and Trust (BB&T - the Bank) through BB&T Wealth Management (Wealth Management) and BB&T Asset Management (Asset Management), all operating under the corporate umbrella of BB&T Corporation (collectively, Appellants). Appellants appealed on numerous grounds, and Maybank appealed the trial court's denial of prejudgment interest. After review, the Supreme Court reversed as to an award of punitive damages based on a limitation of liability clause. The Court affirmed on all other grounds. View "Maybank v. BB&T" on Justia Law
Garza v. Forquest Ventures, Inc.
Forquest Ventures was formed to operate a placer mining enterprise in Helena, Montana. Ken Hagman relied on purported assay reports of the site allegedly performed by Advanced Analytical before incorporating Forquest. Following incorporation, Forquest sold or issued stock to investors, including Investors. Because there was little precious metal content at the site, Forquest realized no profits and Investors received no return on their investments. Emilio and Candice Garza, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated Forquest investors, sued. The Garzas then filed an amended complaint adding the other Investors as named plaintiffs. Forquest filed a third-party complaint against Advanced Analytical. The district court granted summary judgment to Investors on their Montana Securities Act (Act) claims and granted Advanced Analytical’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) correctly determined that Investors timely asserted their claims under the Act; (2) did not err in determining that the non-Garza Investors’ claims relate back to the original complaint’s filing date; (3) correctly determined that there were no genuine issues of material fact regarding Forquest’s failure to use reasonable care in the sale of securities to Investors; but (4) erred in dismissing Advanced Analytical for lack of personal jurisdiction. View "Garza v. Forquest Ventures, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Consumer Law, Securities Law
State Nat’l Bank of Big Spring v. Lew
The Bank and a group of States challenged the constitutionality of various provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376. The district court concluded that plaintiffs lacked standing and that their claims were not ripe. The court concluded that the Bank has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and that claim is ripe. Therefore, the court reversed as to that claim and remanded for reconsideration in the first instance the Bank’s constitutional challenge to the Bureau. The court also concluded that the Bank has standing to challenge Director Cordray’s recess appointment, and that claim is ripe. Therefore, the court reversed as to that claim and remanded for reconsideration in the first instance the Bank’s constitutional challenge to the recess appointment. The court further concluded that the Bank lacks standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and affirmed the judgment as to that claim. Finally, the court concluded that the State plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the Government’s orderly liquidation authority, and that claim is not ripe. Therefore, the court affirmed as to that claim. View "State Nat'l Bank of Big Spring v. Lew" on Justia Law
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Consumer Law, Securities Law
Horton v. Hamilton
Plaintiff purchased a Life Fund 5.1, L.L.C. Capital Appreciation Bond from a company that subsequently filed for bankruptcy. More than two years after purchase, plaintiff sued the defendants for misrepresentations and omissions in the sale of securities, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, ruling that the statute of limitations for each of the plaintiff's claims had run before she brought suit. Plaintiff appealed, and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The question this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether the district court erred in granting the defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the expiration of the statutory limitations periods. As a threshold matter, the Court determined when plaintiff's claims accrued and whether the statute of limitations for each claim ran or was tolled from the accrual date based upon the discovery rule. After review, the Court held that defendants did not submit sufficient evidentiary material to support their arguments as to when the statute of limitations began to run on each claim. Therefore the Court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Horton v. Hamilton" on Justia Law
Posted in: Consumer Law, Securities Law
Gibraltar Fin. Corp. v. Prestige Equip. Corp.
The parties to this lawsuit claimed rights to a punch press used in the manufacturing business of now-defunct Vitco Industries. Plaintiff, Gibraltar Financial Corporation, held a perfected security interest in Vitco's tangible and intangible property, including its equipment. Defendants, several entities including Prestige Equipment, who had acquired the press, and Key Equipment Finance, claimed that the security interest did not cover the press because the press was not Vitco's equipment, but rather, the press had been leased to Vitco by Key Equipment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants after concluding that the lease was a true lease. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether the press was leased. The Court noted that no evidence was on the record relating to the economic expectations of Vitco and Key Equipment at the time the transaction was entered into. Remanded. View "Gibraltar Fin. Corp. v. Prestige Equip. Corp." on Justia Law
Posted in: Commercial Law, Consumer Law, Contracts, Securities Law