Justia Securities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
SuVicMon Development, Inc. v. Morrison
Plaintiffs sued Morrison in Alabama state court in 2006, alleging common-law fraud and Alabama Securities Act violations, later adding claims under the Alabama Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, alleging that Morrison had given property to his sons to defraud his creditors. Morrison filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court allowed the Alabama case to proceed but stayed the execution of any judgment. Plaintiffs initiated a bankruptcy court adversary proceeding, seeking a ruling that their state-court claims were not dischargeable. The bankruptcy court entered Morrison’s discharge order with the adversary proceeding still pending. In 2019, the Alabama trial court entered judgment ($1,185,176) against Morrison on the common-law fraud and Securities Act claims but rejected the fraudulent transfer claims.In the adversary proceeding, the bankruptcy court held that the state-court judgment was excepted from discharge, 11 U.S.C. 523(a)(19), as a debt for the violation of state securities laws, and later ruled that the discharge injunction barred appeals against Morrison on the fraudulent transfer claims. The court found the "Jet Florida" doctrine inapplicable because Morrison would be burdened with the expense of defending the state-court suit. The district court and Eleventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the fraudulent transfer suit is an action to collect a non-dischargeable debt (securities-fraud judgment) or that Plaintiffs should be allowed to proceed against Morrison as a nominal defendant, to seek recovery from the fraudulent transferees. The bankruptcy court has discretion in deciding whether to allow a suit against a discharged debtor under Jet Florida. View "SuVicMon Development, Inc. v. Morrison" on Justia Law
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Marin
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed separate district court orders directing defendant and MinTrade to comply with SEC subpoenas for the production of documentary evidence and testimony. The court held that the district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over defendant in the Southern District of Florida. As to MinTrade, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in not holding an evidentiary hearing. On the merits, the court held that neither district court abused its considerable discretion in concluding that the subpoenas were relevant to a legitimate investigation into possible violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. View "Securities and Exchange Commission v. Marin" on Justia Law
Whitehead v. BBVA Compass Bank
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for appellees in an action brought by appellant, alleging claims for securities fraud and state common law claims of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, suppression and fraud. Appellant alleged that appellees wrongfully failed to inform appellant of the risks involved in making a certain investment. The court found that the alleged wrongful conduct of appellees did not cause the economic loss for which appellant sues. In this case, there is no viable claim against appellees; no act or omission asserted against them was the cause of the loss suffered by appellant; and thus the district court properly granted summary judgment in their favor. View "Whitehead v. BBVA Compass Bank" on Justia Law
University of Puerto Rico Retirement System v. Ocwen Financial Corp.
The Retirement System filed a private securities fraud action under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the SEC's Rule 10b-5, claiming that it had detrimentally relied on Ocwen's materially misleading statements and omissions concerning the likelihood of achieving regulatory compliance. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to identify any material misrepresentations or omissions or otherwise state a claim against Ocwen for securities fraud.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and held that, even considering the Retirement System's allegations in the most favorable light, the complaint fell short of alleging any actionable misrepresentations or omissions under section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5, or any other cognizable securities law violation. In this case, some statements made by Ocwen were immaterial puffery, some were mere statements of opinion, some fell within the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act's safe-harbor forward-looking statements, and others were simply not alleged to be false. Furthermore, nothing that Ocwen failed to disclose rendered already-disclosed information misleading in context. View "University of Puerto Rico Retirement System v. Ocwen Financial Corp." on Justia Law
Word v. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Petitioner sought review of a 2016 order entered by the Commission denying his motion to set aside a 1992 default judgment order requiring him to pay reparations plus interest to June and Louie Stidham for violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. The Eleventh Circuit granted respondents' motion to dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction and dismissed the petition for want of jurisdiction.The court held that, taken together, the statutory text, context, and legislative history are a "clear statement" of congressional intent that the bond requirement in 7 U.S.C. 18(e) is jurisdictional. Therefore, the petition for review must be dismissed because petitioner failed to post the bond. View "Word v. U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission" on Justia Law
SEC v. Torchia
After the SEC initiated federal proceedings against defendant, the district court appointed a receiver for one of defendant's entities. The receiver proposed a plan to collect and sell assets connected to a Ponzi scheme and distribute the proceeds.The Eleventh Circuit agreed with investors and held that the district court denied them due process by employing summary proceedings that did not allow them to present their claims and defenses or meaningfully challenge the receiver's decisions. In this case, the district court appointed the receiver, issued an injunction to freeze assets, and held status conferences regarding the receivership all within a few months. The receiver then separated investors into different categories and the district court issued an order that called for the receiver to collect and sell the receivership's insurance policies. These determinations by the receiver and the orders entered by the district court were made without giving investors sufficient notice and/or a meaningful opportunity to be heard. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "SEC v. Torchia" on Justia Law
Pictet Overseas Inc. v. Helvetia Trust
The Trusts initiated before FINRA an arbitration proceeding against the eight individuals who had owned Banque Pictet as partners and others, including Pictet Overseas, seeking to recover losses from custodial accounts with Banque Pictet. Pictet Overseas and the Partners then filed an action in federal district court, seeking to enjoin the arbitration, contending that, even if Rule 12200 of the FINRA Code of Arbitration Procedure for Customer Disputes required Pictet Overseas to arbitrate certain claims before FINRA, it did not require Pictet Overseas or the Partners to arbitrate the Trusts' claims.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling that the Trusts' claims were non-arbitrable and held that FINRA Rule 12200 did not require arbitration. In this case, the Trusts' claims did not arise in connection with Pictet Overseas' or the Partners' business activities. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's order permanently enjoining the Trusts from arbitrating in a FINRA forum their claims against Pictet Overseas and the Partners. View "Pictet Overseas Inc. v. Helvetia Trust" on Justia Law
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Southern Trust Metals, Inc.
The Eleventh Circuit vacated its original opinion in this case and issued the following opinion in its place.The CFTC begain investigating defendants in response to a customer's complaint of commodities fraud. The NFA also opened an investigation, which proceeded in tandem with the CFTC's, but ended in a settlement. The CFTC then filed suit alleging that defendants violated the Commodities Exchange Act (CEA) when they failed to register as futures commission merchants, transacted the purchase and sale of contracts for the future delivery of a commodity (futures) outside of a registered exchange, and promised to invest customers' money in precious metals (metals) but instead invested the funds in so-called "off-exchange margined metals derivatives" (metals derivatives). The court affirmed the district court's judgment except as to the restitution award for the group of investors whose losses were associated solely with the registration violations. In regard to the restitution award, the court vacated and remanded with instructions to consider other equitable remedies. View "U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Southern Trust Metals, Inc." on Justia Law
Brink v. Raymond James & Associates, Inc.
The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's putative class action complaint alleging state law claims for breach of contract and negligence. Plaintiff claimed that because Passport Account customers had agreed only to pay for "expenses incurred in facilitating the execution and clearing" of their trades, RJA's undisclosed profit built into the Processing Fees breached the Passport Agreement. The court held that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA) did not prohibit plaintiff's putative class action because RJA's alleged failure to disclose the hidden profit built into the Processing Fee was not a misrepresentation of a material fact for purposes of SLUSA. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Brink v. Raymond James & Associates, Inc." on Justia Law
LabMD, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission
The Eleventh Circuit vacated a cease and desist order issued by the FTC against LabMD. The FTC brought an enforcement action against LabMD, alleging that LabMD's data-security program was inadequate and thus constituted an "unfair act or practice" under Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(a). The court agreed with LabMD that the order was not enforceable because it did not direct LabMD to cease committing an unfair act or practice within the meaning of Section 5(a). Assuming arguendo that LabMD's negligent failure to design and maintain a reasonable data-security program invaded consumers' right of privacy and thus constituted an unfair act or practice, the court held nonetheless that the cease and desist order was not enforceable where it contained no prohibitions, but rather commanded LabMD to overhaul and replace its data-security program to meet an indeterminable standard of reasonableness. View "LabMD, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission" on Justia Law