Justia Securities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Securities Law
Divane v. Northwestern University
Participating employees can contribute a portion of their salary to their Retirement Plan account and Northwestern makes a matching contribution. Employees participating in the Voluntary Savings Plan also contribute a portion of their salary, but Northwestern does not make a matching contribution. Both plans allow participants to choose the investments for their accounts from options assembled by the plans’ fiduciaries. Northwestern is the administrator and designated fiduciary of both plans. The plaintiffs sued Northwestern under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001 (ERISA).The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit in 2020. The Supreme Court rejected the Seventh Circuit's reliance on a “categorical rule” that providing some low-cost options eliminates concerns about other investment options being imprudent. On remand, the Seventh Circuit reinstated claims that Northwestern failed to monitor and incurred excessive recordkeeping fees and failed to swap out retail shares for cheaper but otherwise identical institutional shares. The court again affirmed the dismissal of other claims, including a claim that Northwestern retained duplicative funds. View "Divane v. Northwestern University" on Justia Law
GLAZER CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, L.P, ET AL V. FORESCOUT TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL
Plaintiffs alleged that during the class period, Defendants made false or misleading statements about Forescout’s past financial performance, presently confirmed sales, and prospects for future sales. They alleged that Defendants misled investors with respect to (1) the strength of Forescout’s sales pipeline, meaning its presently booked sales and prospects for future sales; (2) the experience of Forescout’s sales force; (3) the business Forescout lost with certain business partners, or “channel partners,” when it announced a merger with Advent International, Inc.; and (4) the likelihood that the merger would close. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of a securities fraud class action under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities and Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5. The panel held that Plaintiffs adequately pleaded both falsity and scienter as to some of the challenged statements and that the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act’s safe harbor for forward-looking statements did not preclude liability as to some of these statements. The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal as to certain statements, and it reversed and remanded for further proceedings as to other challenged statements regarding the sales pipeline and the Advent acquisition. View "GLAZER CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, L.P, ET AL V. FORESCOUT TECHNOLOGIES, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law
Weinberg v. Waystar, Inc.
Plaintiff-appellant Tracey Weinberg (“Weinberg”) was the former Chief Marketing Officer of defendant-appellee Waystar, Inc.(“Waystar”). During her employment, the company granted her options to purchase stock in its co-defendant Derby TopCo, Inc.,(“Derby Inc.”), pursuant to a Derby TopCo 2019 Stock Incentive Plan (the “Plan”). Weinberg was awarded three option grants under the Plan pursuant to three option agreements executed between October 2019 and August 2020. By the time Weinberg was terminated in 2021, 107,318.96 of her options had vested. She timely exercised all of them in November 2021, and the options immediately converted to economically equivalent partnership units in co-defendant Derby TopCo Partnership LP, a Delaware limited partnership (“Derby LP”) (the “Converted Units”). Each Option Agreement contained an identical call right provision providing Appellees the right to repurchase Weinberg’s Converted Units (the “Call Right”), “during the six (6) month period following (x) the (i) [t]ermination of [Weinberg’s] employment with the Service Recipient for any reason . . . and (y) a Restrictive Covenant Breach.” This appeal turned on the meaning of the word “and” in the three option agreements. Specifically, the question presented for the Delaware Supreme Court was whether two separate events (separated by the word “and”) had to both occur in order for the company to exercise a call right, or whether the call right could be exercised if only one event has occurred. Although Weinberg had been terminated within the time frame specified by the Call Right Provision, a Restrictive Covenant Breach had not occurred. The parties disputed whether the Call Right was available in the absence of a Restrictive Covenant Breach. The Court of Chancery decided that it was, and the Delaware Supreme Court concurred, affirming the Court of Chancery. View "Weinberg v. Waystar, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Delaware Supreme Court, Securities Law
Employees’ Retirement System of the City of Baton v. Macrogenics, Inc.
The Employees’ Retirement System of the City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge represents the class of persons and entities who acquired shares of common stock in MacroGenics, Inc. (“MacroGenics”) between February 6, 2019, and June 4, 2019 (the “Class Period”). Plaintiffs initiated an action against MacroGenics, its president and CEO, and its senior vice president and CFO (collectively “Defendants”) for alleged violations of sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Rule 10b–5, and sections 11, 12(a), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933. In their Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that after purchasing MacroGenics’ stock, they experienced economic harm proximately caused by Defendants’ material misrepresentations, misleading statements, or omissions concerning MacroGenics’ clinical trial drug, Margetuximab. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss after concluding that Plaintiffs had failed to sufficiently allege any actionable misrepresentations or omissions that would give rise to Defendants’ duty to disclose and that most of Defendants’ statements were also immunized from suit. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any materially false, misleading representations or omissions in Defendants’ statements. Because Plaintiffs’ Sections 11 and 12(a)(2) claims are inextricably intertwined with the alleged misstatements and omissions raised under their Exchange Act claims, their Securities Act claims cannot prevail. Further, because Plaintiffs have failed to plead a primary violation of the Securities Act, they have consequently failed to plead a Section 15 violation View "Employees' Retirement System of the City of Baton v. Macrogenics, Inc." on Justia Law
In re Platinum and Palladium Antitrust Litigation
Plaintiffs are participants in the physical and derivatives markets for platinum and palladium and seek monetary and injunctive relief for violations of the antitrust laws and the Commodities Exchange Act (“CEA”). According to Plaintiffs, Defendants—mostly foreign companies engaged in trading these metals—manipulated the benchmark prices for platinum and palladium by collusively trading on the futures market to depress the price of these metals and by abusing the process for setting the benchmark prices. Defendants allegedly benefited from this conduct via trading in the physical markets and holding short positions in the futures market. The district court held that it had personal jurisdiction over two of the foreign Defendants, but it dismissed Plaintiffs’ antitrust claims for lack of antitrust standing and the Plaintiffs’ CEA claims for being impermissibly extraterritorial. Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of these claims. The Second Circuit reversed in part, vacated in part, and affirmed in part. The court reversed the district court’s holding that the “Exchange Plaintiffs” lacked antitrust standing to sue for the manipulation of the New York Mercantile Exchange futures market in platinum and palladium. The court explained that as traders in that market, the Exchange Plaintiffs are the most efficient enforcers of the antitrust laws for that injury. But the court affirmed the district court’s conclusion that KPFF Investment, Inc. did not have antitrust standing. Additionally, the court vacated the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ CEA claims. View "In re Platinum and Palladium Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law
SEC v. Christopher Clark
The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Defendant for trading Corporate Executive Board, Inc. (“CEB”) stock using inside information. The Commission alleged that Defendant aggressively traded CEB stock after he received inside information about a potential merger from co-Defendant, Defendant’s brother-in-law and CEB’s Corporate Controller. At trial, Defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a)1 at the conclusion of the Commission’s case. He argued the Commission failed to present evidence that co-Defendant possessed inside information about the merger at the time Defendant began the relevant trading. And if co-Defendant had no such information at that time, Defendant contended, co-Defendant could not have passed it on to Defendant The district court agreed and granted judgment for Defendant. The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court explained the right to a trial by jury is enshrined by the Seventh Amendment. And the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that juries, not judges, decide cases so long as there is evidence from which a reasonable decision can be made. Here, evidence existed from which a reasonable jury could infer that Defendant engaged in prohibited insider trading beginning on December 9, 2016. View "SEC v. Christopher Clark" on Justia Law
Indiana Municipal Power Agency v. United States
Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ARRA) to stabilize the U.S. economy following the 2008 financial crisis, 123 Stat. 115, creating two types of government-subsidized Build America Bonds (BABs). “Direct Payment BABs,” entitled bond issuers to a tax refund from the Treasury Department equal to 35 percent of the interest paid on their BABs. Treasury pays issuers of BABs annually. The payments are funded by the permanent, indefinite appropriation for refunds of internal revenue collections. 31 U.S.C. 1324. Local power agencies (Appellants) collectively issued over four billion dollars in qualifying Direct Payment BABs before 2011. Through 2012, Treasury paid the full 35 percent.In 2011 and 2013, Congress passed legislation reviving sequestration: “[T]he cancellation of budgetary resources provided by discretionary appropriations or direct spending law,” 2 U.S.C. 900(c)(2), 901(a). Treasury stopped making payments to Appellants at 35 percent. Since 2013, Appellants have been paid reduced rates as determined by the Office of Management and Budget’s calculations; for example, 2013 payments were reduced to 8.7 percent.Appellants sued, arguing a statutory theory that the government violates ARRA section 1531 by not making the full 35 percent payments and that the government breached a contract that arises out of section 1531. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court’s dismissal of the suit. No statutory claim existed because sequestration applied to these payments. No contractual claim existed because the ARRA did not create a contract between the government and Appellants. View "Indiana Municipal Power Agency v. United States" on Justia Law
Federal Trade Commission v. Steven J. Dorfman
The Federal Trade Commission (the “Commission”) alleges that Defendant and his six companies engaged in unfair or deceptive business practices in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Relying on its authority under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, the Commission obtained a preliminary injunction that included an asset freeze and the imposition of a receiver. Defendant argued that the preliminary injunction must be dissolved because a recent Supreme Court decision undermines the Commission’s Section 13(b) authority. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the order denying Defendant’s emergency motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction. The court explained that Defendant urged the court to read AMG Capital as a signal to interpret the FTC Act with a view to “reigning in the FTC’s power.” But, the court wrote, that AMG Capital teaches the court to read the FTC Act to “mean what it says.” 141 S. Ct. at 1349. In AMG Capital, that meant limiting Section 13(b)’s provision for a “permanent injunction” to injunctive relief. Here, that means recognizing the broad scope of relief available under Section 19. When the Commission enforces a rule, Section 19 grants the district court jurisdiction to offer relief “necessary to redress injury to consumers.” To preserve funds for consumers, the Commission sought to freeze Defendant’s assets and impose a receivership over his companies. Section 19 allows such relief. View "Federal Trade Commission v. Steven J. Dorfman" on Justia Law
Joy Global Inc. v. Columbia Casualty Co.
Joy Global and Komatsu agreed to merge. Joy sent its investors disclosures required under the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78n. Subsequent suits contended that Joy violated the Act by not disclosing some internal projections of Joy’s future growth that could have been used to negotiate a higher price, rendering the proxy statements fraudulent, and that Joy’s directors violated their state law duties by not maximizing the price for the shareholders. The suits settled for $21 million.The district court held that the $21 million loss is not covered by insurance. The policies do not require indemnification for “any amount of any judgment or settlement of any Inadequate Consideration Claim other than Defense Costs.” An “inadequate consideration claim” is that part of any Claim alleging that the price or consideration paid or proposed to be paid for the acquisition or completion of the acquisition of all or substantially all the ownership interest in or assets of an entity is inadequate.The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The suits assert the wrongful act of failing to disclose documents that could have been used to seek a higher price and are within the definition of “inadequate consideration claim.” The claims do not identify any false or deficient disclosures about anything other than the price. The only objection to this merger was that Joy should have held out for more money, and that revealing this would have induced the investors to vote “no.” View "Joy Global Inc. v. Columbia Casualty Co." on Justia Law
IN RE: ROBERT GRIER, ET AL V. FINJAN HOLDINGS, INC., ET AL
The board of directors of Finjan Holdings, Inc., struck a deal with Fortress Investment Group LLC for Fortress to purchase all Finjan shares. Finjan’s shareholders approved the deal. Shareholder Plaintiff then sued Finjan, its CEO, and members of its board of directors, alleging that revenue predictions and share-value estimations sent by Finjan management to shareholders before the sale had been false and in violation of Section 14(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. The panel held that to state a claim under Section 14(e), Plaintiff was required to plausibly allege that (1) Finjan management did not actually believe the revenue protections/share-value estimations they issued to the Finjan shareholders (“subjective falsity”), (2) the revenue protections/share value estimations did not reflect the company’s likely future performance (“objective falsity”), (3) shareholders foreseeably relied on the revenue-projections/share-value estimations in accepting the tender offer, and (4) shareholders suffered an economic loss as a result of the deal with Fortress. The district court ruled that the subjective falsity element of Grier’s claim required allegations of a conscious, fraudulent state-of-mind, also called “scienter.” The panel, however, held that, for Plaintiff’s claim under Section 14(e), scienter was not required, and his allegations need to provide only enough factual material to create a “reasonable inference,” not a “strong inference,” of subjective falsity. The panel held that, nonetheless, Plaintiff’s allegations did not create even a “reasonable inference” of subjective falsity. View "IN RE: ROBERT GRIER, ET AL V. FINJAN HOLDINGS, INC., ET AL" on Justia Law