Justia Securities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
In re Biogen Inc. Securities Litigation
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of this putative class action alleging violations under sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The district court concluded that the initial amended complaint failed to meet the heightened pleading requirements of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA). Thereafter, the court denied Plaintiffs’ subsequent motion to vacate the judgment and for leave to file a second amended complaint to include purportedly new evidence. The First Circuit held, on de novo review, that (1) the initial amended complaint failed to plead particularized facts giving rise to a strong inference of scienter, as required by the PSLRA; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to vacate the judgment and for leave to file a second amended complaint. View "In re Biogen Inc. Securities Litigation" on Justia Law
Brennan v. Zafgen, Inc.
Zafgen Inc.’s investors (Investors) brought a securities fraud class action suit against Zafgen and its Chief Executive Officer (collectively, Defendants) following a significant drop in the share price of the company. Specifically, Investors alleged that the Defendants made several misleading statements regarding Zafgen’s anti-obesity drug Beloranib. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, concluding that the complaint did not contain facts giving rise to a “cogent and compelling” inference of scienter as required under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed Investors’ claims because the complaint, considered as a whole, did not present allegations giving rise to a cogent and compelling inference of scienter. View "Brennan v. Zafgen, Inc." on Justia Law
Ortiz-Espinosa v. BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico, Inc.
Appellants sought arbitration with BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico, Inc. and one of its securities brokers, asserting several claims under both federal and Puerto Rico law. An arbitration panel issued an award denying Appellants’ claims. Appellants then filed a complaint in the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance requesting that the court vacate or modify the arbitration award, seeking relief under the Puerto Rico Arbitration Act. Defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court of the District of Puerto Rico, arguing that the district court had federal question jurisdiction and also had supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Appellants moved to remand the case to Puerto Rico state court for lack of jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion after applying the look-through approach and determining that the underlying statement of claim alleged federal claims. The district court subsequently confirmed the award. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the look-through approach was the correct test in this case; (2) federal jurisdiction existed; and (3) the district court did not err in refusing to vacate the award and in confirming it. View "Ortiz-Espinosa v. BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law
Ganem v. InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp.
After the share price of a corporation’s common stock dropped, investors filed suit against the corporation and its former CEO, alleging securities fraud. The lead plaintiff, on behalf of himself and a putative class of shareholders, alleged that Defendants inflated the value of the corporation’s common stock by issuing false or materially misleading press releases concerning the approval of human clinical trials for a new medical device the company was developing. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege false or misleading statements sufficient to state a claim and that Plaintiff’s control person claim against the CEO was also properly dismissed. View "Ganem v. InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp." on Justia Law
Bradley v. ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Following a drop in the share price of ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc., investors filed suit against the corporation and four corporate officers (collectively, ARIAD). Plaintiffs alleged securities fraud in violation of the Securities Exchange Act and raised claims under sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act against ARIAD, its directors, and various underwriters involved in the corporation's January 2013 common stock offering. On Defendants’ motion, the district court dismissed the complaint in its entirety. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the securities fraud counts except with respect to one particular material misstatement for which the Court found the allegations set forth in the complaint sufficient to state a claim; and (2) affirmed the disposition of Plaintiffs’ claims under Sections 11 and 15. Remanded. View "Bradley v. ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law
Tutor Perini Corp. v. Banc of America Securities LLC
Tutor Perini Corporation, a giant construction company, sued Banc of America Securities LLC (BAS) and Bank of America, N.A. (BANA), alleging that BAS, acting as its broker-dealer and with BANA’s knowledge and acquiescence, sold Tutor Perini auction-rate securities (ARS) without disclosing that the ARS market was heading for a crash. Tutor Perini filed suit in Massachusetts’s federal district court, alleging securities fraud under state and federal law and several other state-law claims. BAS and BANA moved for summary judgment on all claims, claiming that BAS actually disclosed the risks that later materialized. The district court granted BAS and BANA’s motion. The First Circuit (1) vacated the summary judgment for BAS on the state securities-fraud claim, the federal securities-fraud claim, the state negligent-misrepresentation claim, and the state unfair-business-practices claim, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed as to these claims; and (2) affirmed in all other respects. Remanded. View "Tutor Perini Corp. v. Banc of America Securities LLC" on Justia Law
Local No. 8 IBEW Retirement Plan & Trust v. Vertex Pharm., Inc.
Following an announcement that overstated the positive interim results from clinical trials for an experimental drug combination intended to treat a fatal lung disease, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s stock price rose from $37.41 per share to $64.85 three weeks later. After Vertex corrected the initial release’s overstatement, the stock price dropped to $57.80. Local No. 8 IBEW Retirement Plan & Trust filed a class action complaint against Vertex and six past and current Vertex employees on behalf of those who acquired Vertex stock during the period in which the overstatement stood uncorrected, charging Defendants with securities fraud under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that it failed to create a strong inference that Defendants acted with the mental state required to render them liable under the Act. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the allegations in the complaint that Defendants acted with scienter fell short of what Congress demands in the securities fraud context. View "Local No. 8 IBEW Retirement Plan & Trust v. Vertex Pharm., Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. McPhail
Defendant, a tile salesman, received material, nonpublic information from a corporate inside and then passed that information along to friends, who used it to obtain substantial trading gains. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of committing securities fraud and conspiring to commit securities fraud. Defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence in the record to support his conviction, where he was neither a corporate insider nor a trader of securities. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to show that Defendant knowingly breached a duty of confidence; (2) the district court’s instructions did not improperly shift the burden of proof or misstate the state of mind element of the securities fraud offense; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to show that Defendant anticipated receiving a benefit as a result of his disclosure. View "United States v. McPhail" on Justia Law
United States v. Parigian
Acting on “obviously nonpublic information” that a golfing buddy, McPhail, received from a corporate insider, Parigian made more than $200,000 trading in securities. A federal criminal securities fraud indictment alleged a “misappropriation theory” against Parigian, arguing that Parigian knew or should have known that, by providing the inside information to Parigian, McPhail breached a duty of trust and confidence and personally benefited by doing so. He pled guilty to the charges conditionally. The First Circuit rejected Parigian's preserved challenges to the indictment, following the circuit’s controlling precedent: allegations of a friendship between McPhail and Parigian plus an expectation that the tippees would treat McPhail to a golf outing and assorted luxury entertainment is enough to allege a benefit if a benefit is required. The court rejected an argument that the government was obligated to allege that the insider was also expecting a benefit when passing along confidential information to McPhail in the first instance. View "United States v. Parigian" on Justia Law
Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Wilson
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed this commodity trading fraud action against John B. Wilson and JBW Capital LLC, alleging that Defendants were liable under the Commodity Exchange Act for failing to register with the CFTC and for violating two commodity fraud provisions. The CFTC moved for summary judgment requesting a permanent injunction, restitution, and civil monetary penalties. The district court granted the CFTC’s request for a finding of liability and imposed injunctive relief and civil penalties but declined to award restitution. Both sides appealed. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment and the relief it ordered, holding that the district court did not err in (1) finding that Wilson was liable for failure to register as a commodity pool operator; (2) granting summary judgment on the commodity fraud provisions; and (3) concluding that restitution was unavailable. View "Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Wilson" on Justia Law