Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Business Law
Gazzola v. Hochul
The case involved a group of firearm and ammunition dealers and a business organization who appealed a decision by the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. The appellants claimed that New York's commercial regulations on the sale of firearms and ammunition violated their customers' Second Amendment rights and that several provisions of New York law conflicted with federal law. Additionally, they claimed they lacked standing to challenge New York’s licensing scheme for semiautomatic rifles, its background-check requirement for ammunition purchases, and its firearm training requirement for concealed-carry licenses. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision, holding that the appellants failed to present evidence to support their claims. The court also affirmed that the appellants lacked standing to challenge the regulations as individuals. View "Gazzola v. Hochul" on Justia Law
Saba Cap. CEF Opportunities 1, Ltd., Saba Cap. Mgmt., L.P. v. Nuveen
Defendants-Appellants Nuveen Floating Rate Income Fund, Nuveen Floating Rate Income Opportunity Fund, Nuveen Short Duration Credit Opportunities Fund, Nuveen Global High Income Fund, Nuveen Senior Income Fund, and their trustees (collectively, “Nuveen”) appealed from a final judgment entered in favor of Plaintiffs-Appellees Saba Capital CEF Opportunities, Ltd. and Saba Capital Management, L.P. (collectively, “Saba”). The district court granted summary judgment for Saba, declaring it unlawful and rescinding an amendment to Nuveen’s investment company bylaws that restricts shareholders from voting shares acquired above specified levels of ownership. On appeal, Nuveen challenged Saba’s Article III standing and the district court’s judgment with respect to the legality of Nuveen’s amendment. Nuveen argues that Saba lacks standing because Saba has not alleged, or supported with evidence, an actual or imminent injury that is concrete. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Section 12(d)(1) says nothing about the proper interpretation of the ICA’s meaning of “voting stock” and “voting security.” That Congress has imposed, in another section of the ICA, voting conditions and exceptions on presumptively unlawful acquisitions does not permit Nuveen to impose its own more extreme vote-stripping measures directly at odds with Section 18(i)’s language. Further, the court explained that Nuveen points to Section 1(b)(4), which reflects Congress’s concern over investment companies that are “inequitably distributed” and “unduly concentrated through pyramiding or inequitable methods of control.” But Congress directly addressed those concerns in other provisions of the ICA, which restricts investment company acquisitions. View "Saba Cap. CEF Opportunities 1, Ltd., Saba Cap. Mgmt., L.P. v. Nuveen" on Justia Law
In re: Nine West LBO Sec. Litig.
Plaintiffs-appellants Marc Kirschner, as the Litigation Trustee for the Nine West Litigation Trust representing unsecured creditors, and Wilmington Savings Fund, FSB, as successor Indenture Trustee for various notes issued by Nine West (together, the "Trustees"), brought seventeen actions in different states against Jones Group's former directors and officers for unjust enrichment and against its former public shareholders for fraudulent conveyance. Both the public shareholders and the directors and officers moved to dismiss the claims against them, arguing that payments made to them in connection with the merger are shielded by the Bankruptcy Code's Section 546(e) safe harbor. The district court granted both motions to dismiss, holding that the payments were shielded by the safe harbor. Plaintiffs appealed. The Second Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The court explained that Congress enacted Section 546(e) safe harbor to promote finality and certainty for investors by limiting the circumstances under which securities transactions could be unwound by, for example, a successful fraudulent conveyance action. The court wrote that to further expand the scope of Section 546(e) and Section 101(22)(A) and immunize transactions in which a bank took only purely ministerial action, made no payments, and had no discretion would not further Congress's purpose. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment to the extent it dismissed the Payroll Transfer claims. View "In re: Nine West LBO Sec. Litig." on Justia Law
Krasner v. Cedar Realty Trust, Inc.
Plaintiff filed a putative shareholder class action complaint in New York State Supreme Court, alleging Maryland state law claims on behalf of himself and all similarly situated preferred stockholders of Cedar Realty Trust, Inc. (“Cedar”), a New York-based corporation incorporated in Maryland, following its August 2022 merger with Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trusts, Inc. (“Wheeler”) (collectively, “Defendants”). The complaint alleged Cedar and its leadership breached fiduciary duties owed to, and a contract with, shareholders such as Plaintiff and that Wheeler both aided and abetted the breach and tortiously interfered with the relevant contract. The Defendants collectively removed the case, invoking federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), but the district court remanded the case to state court after Krasner argued that an exception to CAFA jurisdiction applied to his claims. The Second Circuit dismissed Defendants’ appeal and concluded that the “securities-related” exception applies. The court explained that here, the securities created a relationship between Cedar and Plaintiff that gave rise to fiduciary duties on the part of Cedar and the potential for additional claims against those parties who aid and abet Cedar’s breach of those duties. Thus, the aiding and abetting claim—and by the same logic, the tortious interference with contract claim—“seek enforcement of a right that arises from an appropriate instrument.” As such, the securities-related exception applies, and the district court properly remanded the case to state court. View "Krasner v. Cedar Realty Trust, Inc." on Justia Law
SEC v. Govil
Defendant-Appellant Aron Govil engaged in several fraudulent securities offerings through his company, Cemtrex. Pursuant to a settlement agreement with Cemtrex, Govil agreed to pay back the proceeds of his fraud in part by surrendering his Cemtrex securities to the company. The district court later granted a motion by the SEC for additional disgorgement. The district court concluded that disgorgement was authorized and that the value of the securities Govil surrendered to Cemtrex should not offset the disgorgement award. Govil argues that neither U.S.C. Section 78u(d)(5) nor 15 U.S.C. § 78u(d)(7) authorize disgorgement here. The Second Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded with instructions to determine whether the defrauded investors suffered pecuniary harm. The court explained that the Second Circuit recently held that the disgorgement remedies under Section 78u(d)(5) and Section 78u(d)(7) are subject to the “traditional equitable limitations” that the Supreme Court recognized in Liu v. SEC, 140 S. Ct. 1936 (2020). SEC v. Ahmed, 72 F.4th 379, 396 (2d Cir. 2023). One of those equitable limitations is that disgorgement must be “awarded for victims.” Liu, 140 S. Ct. at 1940. Further, the court wrote that a wrongdoer makes a payment in satisfaction of a disgorgement remedy when he returns the property to a wronged party. Accordingly, if on remand, the district court decides that disgorgement is authorized, it must value the surrendered securities and credit that value against the overall disgorgement award. View "SEC v. Govil" on Justia Law
Red Tree Investments, LLC v. PDVSA, Petróleo
Defendant-Appellant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), an oil company wholly owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, entered into two Note Agreements and a Credit Agreement with the predecessor-in-interest to now-Plaintiff-Appellee Red Tree Investments, LLC (“Red Tree”). PDVSA became delinquent on its obligations under the contracts. Red Tree’s predecessor-in-interest accelerated the outstanding debt. Then Red Tree initiated these actions in Supreme Court, New York County, which Defendants removed to district court. PDVSA claimed that any further payment under the Agreements was impossible and should therefore be excused. The district court granted summary judgment against PDVSA on the grounds that PDVSA had failed to provide sufficient evidence that payment was impossible or in the alternative, that any impediment to payment was not reasonably foreseeable. It therefore entered judgment in favor of Red Tree and imposed post-judgment interest. On appeal, PDVSA contends that the district court erred in concluding that no reasonable trier of fact could find that payment was impossible or that U.S. sanctions were unforeseeable. PDVSA further asserts that the district court incorrectly calculated post-judgment interest. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court that payment by PDVSA was not impossible. Further, the court concluded that the district court did not err in its calculation of post-judgment interest. The court explained that under the plain language of the Note and Credit Agreements, the outstanding principal and interest that accrued prejudgment—including both default and ordinary interest—are subject to default interest post-judgment. View "Red Tree Investments, LLC v. PDVSA, Petróleo" on Justia Law
Siemens Energy, Inc. v. PDVSA
In January 2017, Defendant-Appellant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”), an oil company wholly owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, entered into a Note Agreement with then-Plaintiff-Appellee Dresser-Rand Company. PDVSA made two of the twelve payments due under the Note Agreement in April and July 2017 but failed to make any subsequent payments. In February 2019, Dresser-Rand declared PDVSA to be in default, accelerated the debt, and initiated this action in Supreme Court, New York County, which Defendants removed to the district court. PDVSA claimed that any further payment was impossible and should therefore be excused. The district court concluded that PDVSA had failed to prove that repayment was impossible. It therefore entered judgment in favor of Dresser-Rand. On appeal, PDVSA contends that the district court erred in concluding that payment was not impossible. PDVSA further asserts that the district court incorrectly calculated post-judgment interest. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court agreed with the district court that payment by PDVSA was not impossible, and the court further concluded that PDVSA forfeited any arguments relating to post-judgment interest. The court explained that the evidence demonstrates that PDVSA never attempted payment to a different bank or in an alternative currency, nor did it investigate whether this manner of payment would have been truly impossible. Instead of the evidence shows, did nothing. PDVSA cannot benefit from the impossibility defense on speculation. View "Siemens Energy, Inc. v. PDVSA" on Justia Law
NexPoint Diversified Real Est. Tr. v. Acis Cap. Mgmt., L.P.
Plaintiff NexPoint holds $7.5 million in subordinated notes issued by Acis CLO-2015-6 Ltd. (the “Issuer”), as part of a CLO. The Issuer acquired the CLO collateral and conveyed it to a trust under an indenture between the Issuer and U.S. Bank National Association as Trustee (the “Indenture”). Defendant-appellee Acis Capital Management, L.P. (“Acis”) was engaged as the CLO’s portfolio manager pursuant to a Portfolio Management Agreement between the Issuer and Acis (the “PMA”). NexPoint claims that Acis, Terry, and Brigade (together, the “Advisers”) maximized their own profits at the expense of the CLO in violation of fiduciary duties imposed by Section 206 of the IAA. The district court concluded that NexPoint failed to state a claim under Section 215(b). NexPoint appealed, arguing that the District Court erred in limiting Section 215(b)’s application to contracts that require illegal performance, as opposed to lawful contracts performed in an unlawful manner. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that under Section 215(b), a contract’s performance involves the violation of the IAA only if performing a contractual duty requires conduct prohibited by the IAA. No such unlawful conduct is required by the contracts NexPoint seeks to rescind. The court further explained that the text and structure of the IAA, interpreted with the benefit of TAMA, Oxford, and other precedent, make clear that a contract’s performance “involves” the violation of the IAA only if performing a contractual duty requires a party to engage in conduct prohibited by the IAA. NexPoint does not seek rescission of any contract requiring a party to engage in conduct prohibited by the IAA. View "NexPoint Diversified Real Est. Tr. v. Acis Cap. Mgmt., L.P." on Justia Law
EMA Financial, LLC v. Chancis
This action concerns loans issued by Plaintiff, EMA Financial, LLC, to a group of companies that were controlled by Defendants. The loan agreements contained so-called “floating-price conversion option” provisions, which gave EMA the right to exercise an option to receive company stock in lieu of cash repayment on the loans. When EMA initially sought partial repayment of the loans through the stock repayment option in 2017, the companies delivered the shares to EMA at the agreed-upon discount rate. EMA sought to exercise the conversion option again. This time, the companies failed to deliver the stock. EMA then brought suit, claiming breach of contract and breach of guaranty as to the loan agreements, and fraudulent conveyance and fraudulent inducement. Defendants asserted as an affirmative defense that the loan agreements were void because the conversion option provisions rendered the agreements criminally usurious under New York law. The district court dismissed this defense and entered judgment in favor of EMA for some of its claims and in favor of Defendants for other. Two Defendants appealed, arguing that the district court’s dismissal of the usury defense at summary judgment should be vacated in light of an intervening change in New York law. The Second Circuit vacated. The court reasoned that it is also clear that Adar Bays II materially altered the Defendants’ rights by providing them with a newly viable avenue by which they could seek to void the Notes and avoid liability for breaching them. Therefore, even assuming the other necessary conditions for collateral estoppel are met, the Defendants are not precluded from raising a usury defense notwithstanding the Corporate Defendants’ default. View "EMA Financial, LLC v. Chancis" on Justia Law
Kirschner v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.
Plaintiff brought a series of claims in New York state court arising out of a syndicated loan transaction facilitated by Defendants, a group of financial institutions. Plaintiff’s appeal presents two issues. The first issue presented is whether the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York had subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to the Edge Act, 12 U.S.C. Section 632. The second issue presented is whether the District Court erroneously dismissed Plaintiff’s state-law securities claims on the ground that he failed to plausibly suggest that notes issued as part of the syndicated loan transaction are securities under Reves v. Ernst & Young, 494 U.S. 56 (1990). The Second Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court had jurisdiction under the Edge Act because Defendant JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. engaged in international or foreign banking as part of the transaction giving rise to this suit. The court also held that the district court did not erroneously dismiss Plaintiff’s state-law securities claims because Plaintiff failed to plausibly suggest that the notes are securities under Reves. View "Kirschner v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law