Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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Plaintiff filed suit against Whole Foods and its executives, alleging that the company and its executives defrauded Whole Foods shareholders in violation of federal securities law by perpetuating weights-and-measures fraud against customers. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that plaintiffs failed to properly allege a material misrepresentation, scienter, or loss causation. In this case, plaintiffs failed to state a claim under section 10(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act based on defendants' comments because plaintiff failed to allege that defendants' particular statements about Whole Foods' prices were false. The court also held that defendants' comments about Whole Foods' commitments to transparency and quality, even if false, were immaterial. Furthermore, plaintiffs failed to identify a decline in stock price that shortly followed a corrective disclosure. Likewise, plaintiffs section 20(a) claims failed because they were derivative to the section 10(b) claims. View "Employees' Retirement System of the State of Hawaii v. Whole Foods Market, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fund filed suit alleging that Hangar and three of its officers engaged in securities fraud. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err in dismissing the section 10(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act claims against Defendants Asar and Kirk, but erred in dismissing the claims against Defendants McHenry and Hanger. In this case, the allegations supported a strong inference of scienter as to McHenry where the court could infer from the Audit Committee's report that he intended to enhance Hanger's financial results. The court explained that, taking the allegations holistically, McHenry's having had the requisite state of mind was "cogent" and "at least as compelling" as the alternate explanations. Therefore, McHenry's scienter could be imputed to Hanger, but only as to his allegedly false statements. View "Alaska Electrical Pension Fund v. Asar" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the SEC on liability and damages in a complaint against defendant and his company for the purchase and resale of unregistered securities. The court affirmed summary judgment as to liability against TJM and defendant where they failed to show that the sales fell under an exception to the registration requirements under Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. 77e. Because defendants failed to identify anything in the summary judgment record that would show the transactions at issue occurred in Texas, the court rejected their claim under Rule 504(b)(1)(iii), which allows offerings and sales to avoid registration requirements if they are conducted exclusively according to state law exemptions from registration that permit general solicitation and general advertising so long as sales are made only to accredited investors. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in barring all future transactions, in ordering a permanent injunction from future securities law violations, and in disgorgement of all revenue. View "SEC v. Kahlon" on Justia Law