Justia Securities Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial in this civil enforcement action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict.At issue was whether Defendant, the CFO of AVEO Pharmaceuticals, knowingly misled investors by the manner in which he responded to investor inquiries about the substance of AVEO's discussions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the results of AVEO's clinical trial for tivozanib, a kidney cancer drug candidate. A jury found against Defendant. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because he had no duty to disclose the substance of the FDA discussions and because the evidence of scienter was insufficient, and (2) he was entitled to a new trial because the district court improperly instructed the jury. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence of fraud and scienter was sufficient to support the verdict; and (2) the challenged instructions were not given in error. View "Securities & Exchange Commission v. Johnston" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decisions of the district court in these appeals challenging the court's discretionary rulings in connection with a request under 28 U.S.C. 1782 to conduct court-ordered discovery for use in a foreign proceeding, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.The foreign proceeding at issue was one of approximately 200 separate securities fraud actions brought in 2016 against Porsche Automobile Holding SE in Germany. The actions stemmed from Porsche's alleged malfeasance in connection with "defeat devices" employed to circumvent emissions testing in certain diesel vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen AG. The district court granted in part Porsche's request for discovery in the United States from affiliates of John Hancock funds who were plaintiffs in the German actions. The First Circuit affirmed the district court's orders denying the Hancock plaintiffs' motion to intervene and denying in part the Hancock affiliates' motion to quash, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "Porsche Automobile Holding SE v. John Hancock Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendants' convictions for securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, holding that Defendants' claims of trial and sentencing error were unavailing.Defendants were two biostaticians employed by two publicly traded biopharmaceutical companies. The jury found Defendants guilty of conspiracy of commit securities fraud and all counts of securities fraud with which they were charged. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in denying Defendants' motions for judgments of acquittal as to the conspiracy and securities fraud convictions; (2) did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendants' motion to compel production of a letter from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority; (3) imposed sentences that were without error; and (4) did not err in awarding restitution. View "United States v. Chan" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's Securities Act claims and finding that Plaintiff did not have standing to bring his Securities Exchange Act claims, holding that Plaintiff failed to allege a violation of the Securities Act and failed to state an Exchange Act claim.On behalf of proposed classes of investors, Plaintiff alleged that ReWalk Robotics, Ltd. violated both the Securities Act and the Securities Exchange Act by omitting details and misrepresenting its dealings with the Federal Drug Administration in its initial public offering Registration Statement and in subsequent disclosures. The district court concluded that Plaintiff failed to allege a violation of the Securities Act and that he lacked standing to challenge ReWalk's alleged failures to make certain disclosures after his purchases of ReWalk securities. The district court further denied Plaintiff's motion to add Joanne Geller as a party. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims. View "Yan v. ReWalk Robotics Ltd." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court ruling against Paraflon Investments, Ltd. on its state-law misrepresentation claims against Fullbridge, Inc. and its principals, Peter Olson and Candice Olson, holding that there was no clear error in the district court's determinations.Fullbridge sought investments from Paraflon regarding a project involving the production of online training courses. After its investment deteriorated, Paraflon brought suit against Fullbridge and the Olsons in federal district court, alleging federal securities fraud claims and common law claims for, inter alia, negligent misrepresentation,and fraudulent misrepresentation. After the case was transferred to the District of Massachusetts the court ruled against Paraflon, finding that Fullbridge did not knowingly or intentionally make a false statement. Paraflon appealed, challenging the district court's disposition of the state-law misrepresentation claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was no clear error in the district court's determination that Fullbridge had a good faith belief that it had received a lucrative award from a third party related to the project; and (2) there was no clear error in the court's determination that Fullbridge's good-faith belief was objectively reasonable based on its experience with the third-party and what it knew at the time of Paraflon's investment. View "Paraflon Investments, Ltd. v. Fullbridge, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions of securities and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) there was sufficient evidence to sustain Defendant's convictions and that, to the extent that the jury instructions may have been overbroad, any error was harmless; (2) this Court need not address whether the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1343, applies extraterritorially because Defendant was convicted under a proper domestic application of the statute; and (3) the district court correctly determined that it lacked the authority to order the government to lodge Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties requests with the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to seek evidence that may have been favorable to Defendant's defense. View "United States v. McLellan" on Justia Law

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In this case, a byproduct of litigation stemming from the derailment of a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Ltd. (MMA) freight train carrying crude oil in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of judgment in favor of Robert Keath, the estate representative of MMA, and against creditor Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company, holding that, giving due deference to the fact-finder's resolution of the burden of proof, the judgment must be affirmed.One month after the derailment, MMA filed a voluntary petition for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. Wheeling instituted an adversary proceeding in the bankruptcy court against MMA and the estate representative, seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the existence and priority of its security interest in certain property of the MMA estate. The case involved intricate questions concerning secured transactions, carriage of goods, and corporate reorganization. After a settlement, the bankruptcy court ruled in favor of the estate representative. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) ultimately, this case turned on principals relating to the allocation of the burden of proof and the deference due to the finder of fact; and (2) giving due deference to the fact-finder's resolution of the burden of proof issue, the district court's judgment must be affirmed. View "Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co. v. Keach" on Justia Law

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In this complaint alleging that Defendants intentionally or recklessly misled investors about Ocular Therapeutix, Inc.'s manufacturing problems the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim, holding that Plaintiffs failed to allege facts giving rise to a strong inference of scienter as required by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA), 15 U.S.C. 78u-4, 78u-5.In 2015, Ocular submitted a new drug application to the FDA for approval of Dextenza. In 2017, the FDA published its observations of issues at Ocular's manufacturing facility, which resulted in a drop in the company's stock price. Plaintiffs, several shareholders, brought this securities fraud action on behalf of themselves and a putative class of investors alleging violations of section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b) and section 20(a) of the Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78t(a). The district court dismissed the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b) and 12(b)(6), the Exchange Act, and the PSLRA. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs did not allege facts giving rise to a strong inference of scienter as required by the PSLRA. View "In re Ocular Therapeutix Inc." on Justia Law

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In this insurance dispute, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's suit to recover unreimbursed defense costs that a former investment advisory firm (Firm) incurred in connection with a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation of the Firm, holding that the Firm was not entitled to coverage.Plaintiff, in his capacity as trustee of a trust established during the bankruptcy proceedings of the Firm, filed this suit against Defendants, two of the Firm's excess insurers, seeking to recover defense costs that the Firm incurred in connection with the SEC investigation. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that an SEC order issued before the start of Defendants' coverage period initiated the investigation of the Firm, and this order triggered the policy's "deemed-made" clause, meaning that the claim was deemed first made prior to Defendants' policy taking effect. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the SEC investigation was a claim that was deemed to have been made when the SEC order issued prior to the inception of Defendants' policies; and (2) accordingly and the claim was outside of the policies' coverage period, and Defendants were not obligated to reimburse the Firm for its defense costs. View "Jalbert v. Zurich Services Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Title III court granting summary judgment against Bondholders, who owned bonds issued in 2008 by the Employees Retirement System of the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (the System), and in favor of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (the Board), holding that the Bondholders did not have security interest in certain of the System's assets.In 2016, the System filed Title III petitions for bankruptcy protections offered under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), 48 U.S.C. 2101-2241, and PROMESA's Title III, 2161-2177. The System subsequently filed two lawsuits against the Bondholders seeking declaratory relief on the validity, priority, extent and enforceability of the Bondholders' asserted security interest in the System's postpetition assets, including employer contributions to the System received postpetition. The Title III court granted summary judgment against the Bondholders. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) 11 U.S.C. 552(a) prevents the Bondholders' security interest from attaching to postpetition employers' contributions; (2) the Bondholders did not have special revenue bonds under 11 U.S.C. 902(2)(A) or (D); and (3) Congress intended section 552 to apply retroactively. View "Employees Retirement System v. Andalusian Global Designated, Employees Retirement System" on Justia Law