Justia Securities Law Opinion Summaries
Young v. SEC
Petitioner, found liable for multiple securities fraud violations, petitioned for review in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is the wrong court. By the time petitioner realized his mistake and filed the petition in the DC Circuit, the 60 day deadline for filing had passed. The DC Circuit did not pass upon whether the statutory time limit to file a petition for review is jurisdictional and subject to equitable tolling. Instead, the court held that, even assuming it is a non-mandatory claims processing rule, petitioner has failed to demonstrate entitlement to equitable tolling. The court stated that filing a petition for review in a state court that clearly lacks jurisdiction over the petition does not toll the deadline for filing in the DC Circuit court. Furthermore, no extraordinary circumstance beyond petitioner's control prevented him from timely filing in this court and thus he is not entitled to equitable tolling. The court dismissed the petition. View "Young v. SEC" on Justia Law
Investor Recovery Fund v. Hopkins
Investor Recovery Fund, LLC was the assignee of six claims held by individual investors who lost their investments in the Hopkins Northwest Fund, LLC (the fund). Randall Hopkins and Brian Murphy were the principals of the fund, and together they owned and managed Hopkins Financial Services, Inc. (Hopkins Financial). The individual investors formed Investor Recovery for the purposes of asserting a collective claim against Hopkins Financial and the fund’s principals individually (collectively, Hopkins Associates). The fund declared a moratorium on redemptions in 2008, preventing investors from taking their money out of the fund. The individual investors lost their investments when the fund declared bankruptcy six years later. Investor Recovery sued Hopkins Associates, asserting claims of fraud by nondisclosure. The district court granted the principals’ motion for a directed verdict after seven days of trial, concluding that Investor Recovery did not prove that the individual investors’ losses were causally connected to the principals’ alleged nondisclosures. The Idaho Supreme Court addressed the applicable standard of review when considering a directed verdict in a fraud by nondisclosure case. Finding the district court used the wrong standard in entering directed verdict in favor of Hopkins Associates, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s directed verdict, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Investor Recovery Fund v. Hopkins" on Justia Law
Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi
The issue raised on appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court centered on the validity of a provision in several Delaware corporations’ charters requiring actions arising under the federal Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act” or “1933 Act”) to be filed in a federal court. Blue Apron Holdings, Inc., Roku, Inc., and Stitch Fix, Inc. were all Delaware corporations that launched initial public offerings in 2017. Before filing their registration statements with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), each company adopted a federal-forum provision. Appellee Matthew Sciabacucchi bought shares of each company in its initial public offering or a short time later. He then sought a declaratory judgment in the Court of Chancery that the FFPs were invalid under Delaware law. The Court of Chancery held that the FFPs were indeed invalid because the “constitutive documents of a Delaware corporation cannot bind a plaintiff to a particular forum when the claim does not involve rights or relationships that were established by or under Delaware’s corporate law.” The Supreme Court disagreed and reversed, finding that such a provision could survive a facial challenge under Delaware law. View "Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi" on Justia Law
Mid Atlantic Capital v. Bien
A married couple, Beverly Bien and David Wellman, invested money with Mid Atlantic Capital Corporation (“Mid Atlantic”). Their investments performed poorly. Stung by the losses, Ms. Bien and Mr. Wellman initiated arbitration proceedings against Mid Atlantic. The arbitration panel awarded damages, fees and costs to the couple. The panel also ordered Ms. Bien and Mr. Wellman to reassign their ownership interests in their investments to Mid Atlantic. Mid Atlantic moved the federal district court to modify the arbitration award to correct “an evident material miscalculation of figures.” The district court denied the motion because the alleged error that Mid Atlantic sought to remedy did not appear on the face of the arbitration award. In the amended final judgment, in addition to ordering Mid Atlantic to pay Ms. Bien and Mr. Wellman certain damages, the court ordered that prejudgment interest would accrue on the damages portion of the award and that postjudgment interest would accrue at the federal rate specified in 28 U.S.C. 1961. Both parties appealed the district court’s order. Mid Atlantic specifically challenged the court’s denial of its motion to modify the arbitration award; the couple cross-appealed to challenge the court’s rulings with respect to prejudgment interest and the reassignment of distributions they received since the arbitration award due to their ownership interests in the investments. Finding no abuse of discretion or other reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "Mid Atlantic Capital v. Bien" on Justia Law
Carpenters’ Pension Fund of Illinois v. Target Corp.
Investors who purchase Target Corporation stock filed suit against Target and its executives, alleging that Target misled investors about problems in its Canadian stores. Investors' claims stemmed from Target's efforts to open stores in Canada. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, and denial of investors' motion for reconsideration and leave to amend. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that investors failed to plead fraud with particularity under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA). In this case, none of the investors' allegations satisfied the PSLRA's mental state requirement and, for one allegation, its falsity requirement. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend, because investors failed to allege that Target's executives knew they were making false or misleading statements to investors. Finally, the court held that, because investors' section 10(b) of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 claim failed, dismissal of their section 20(a) claim was also appropriate. View "Carpenters' Pension Fund of Illinois v. Target Corp." on Justia Law
Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co. v. Keach
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
In re Ocular Therapeutix Inc.
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
Arkansas Teacher Retirement System v. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Shareholders of Goldman filed a class action alleging that Goldman and several of its executives committed securities fraud by misrepresenting Goldman's freedom from, or ability to combat, conflicts of interest in its business practices. The district court certified a shareholder class, but the Second Circuit vacated the order in 2018. On remand, the district court certified the class once more. The court affirmed the district court's order on remand, holding that the district court correctly applied the inflation-maintenance theory. The court explained that the inflation-maintenance theory did not require proof of fraud-induced inflation, and that the district court applied the correct standard in concluding that Goldman's share price was inflated. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by holding that Goldman failed to rebut the Basic presumption by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Arkansas Teacher Retirement System v. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Gonnella v. Securities and Exchange Commission
The Second Circuit affirmed the SEC's finding that petitioner violated section 17(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933, section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Exchange Act Rules 10b-5(a) and (c) promulgated thereunder, and that he aided and abetted his employer's violations of its books and records requirements under the Exchange Act and associated regulations. This case stemmed from a series of trades that petitioner executed to avoid Barclays's aged-inventory policy. The court held that the Commission's actions were proper and the evidence was sufficient to support the Commission's findings. In this case, petitioner forfeited his constitutional challenge by not raising it during the administrative proceedings; the SEC's cooperation agreement did not violate petitioner's right to due process; the ALJ did not engage in impermissible fact-finding; there was sufficient evidence supporting the Commission's findings; and the Commission did not improperly sanction petitioner. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Gonnella v. Securities and Exchange Commission" on Justia Law
Campbell Family Trust v. J.P. Morgan Investment Management, Inc.
The plaintiffs are shareholders in mutual funds. JPMIM is paid a fee for managing the Funds’ securities portfolio and researching potential investments. The plaintiffs sued under the Investment Company Act (ICA), 15 U.S.C. 80a-1, which allows mutual fund shareholders to bring a derivative suit against their fund’s investment adviser on behalf of their fund. The plaintiffs claimed that JPMIM charged excessive fees in violation of section 36(b), which imposes a fiduciary duty on advisers with respect to compensation for services. The Sixth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of JPMIM. Under section 36(b), a shareholder must prove that the challenged fee “is so disproportionately large that it bears no reasonable relationship to the services rendered and could not have been the product of arm’s length bargaining.” The district court considered the relevant factors in making its determination: the nature, extent, and quality of the services provided by the adviser to the shareholders; the profitability of the mutual fund to the adviser; “fallout” benefits, such as indirect profits to the adviser; economies of scale achieved by the adviser as a result of growth in assets under the fund’s management and whether savings generated from the economies of scale are shared with shareholders; comparative fee structures used by other similar funds; and the level of expertise, conscientiousness, independence, and information with which the board acts. View "Campbell Family Trust v. J.P. Morgan Investment Management, Inc." on Justia Law