Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Securities Law
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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review, under the Administrative Procedure Act, of Regulation Best Interest, which creates new standards of conduct for broker-dealers providing investment services to retail customers. Petitioners claimed that Regulation Best Interest is unlawful under the 2010 Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The court held that Ford Financial Solutions has Article III standing to bring its petition for review. The court also held that the SEC lawfully promulgated Regulation Best Interest pursuant to Congress's permissive grant of rulemaking authority under Section 913(f) of the Dodd-Frank Act. Finally, the court held that Regulation Best Interest is not arbitrary and capricious, holding that the SEC's interpretation of the scope of the broker-dealer exemption was not so fundamental to Regulation Best Interest as to make the rule arbitrary and capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. Furthermore, the SEC gave adequate reasons for its decision to prioritize consumer choice and affordability over the possibility of reducing consumer confusion, and it supported its findings with substantial evidence. View "XY Planning Network, LLC v. Securities Exchange Commission" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals: 1) Whether a stock conversion option that permits a lender, in its sole discretion, to convert any outstanding balance to shares of stock at a fixed discount should be treated as interest for the purpose of determining whether the transaction violates N.Y. Penal Law 190.40, the criminal usury law. 2) If the interest charged on a loan is determined to be criminally usurious under N.Y. Penal Law 190.40, whether the contract is void ab initio pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law 5-511. View "Adar Bays, LLC v. GeneSYS ID, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion to file an amended securities fraud complaint against the manufacturers of an allegedly defective surgical gown. The court held that plaintiff's proposed amendment would be futile, because he failed to raise a strong inference of collective corporate scienter by (1) relying on the knowledge of employees unconnected to the challenged statements or (2) pleading that the challenged statements concerned a key product with which the company's senior management would be expected to be familiar. View "Jackson v. Abernathy" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint under Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act for failure to state a claim. In this case, plaintiff alleged that John Doe was a member of a group with the IVA defendants and IVA's other clients, and that John Doe's investment management agreement with IVA qualified as an agreement to trade in the securities of an issuer under Section 13(d). Plaintiff further theorized that the IVA defendants’ filing of a Schedule 13D automatically caused John Doe to become a member of a group by "silent acquiescence." The court held that an investment management agreement delegating discretionary investment authority to an investment advisor is not an agreement to trade in the securities of an issuer and, therefore, is not a standalone basis for membership in an insider group. The court also held that such an investment advisor's client does not become an insider group member simply because the advisor has filed a Schedule 13D or deputized a director on an issuer's board. Therefore, the court concluded that clients who have not entered an issuer-specific trading agreement are not liable for disgorgement of short-swing profits solely by virtue of their investment advisor's insider status. View "Rubenstein v. International Value Advisers, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law
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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

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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

Posted in: Securities Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to plead, with the requisite particularity, securities fraud under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5. In light of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) and binding circuit precedent, the court held that the district court correctly dismissed the complaint. The court held that the law is well established that a party, when making securities fraud allegations on information and belief, must plead material misstatements and omissions with particularity. The court further clarified that if statements were rendered false or misleading through the nondisclosure of illegal activity, the facts of those underlying illegal acts must also be pleaded with particularity. In this case, the complaint alleged that defendants, producers of chicken, engaged in an illegal antitrust conspiracy, the nondisclosure of which rendered various statements and SEC filings false and misleading. The court held that plaintiffs have failed to allege the details of the underlying antitrust conspiracy with particularity. View "Gamm v. Sanderson Farms, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law
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Petitioners challenged the SEC's denial of whistleblower awards following a $50 million settlement the SEC reached with Deutsche Bank AG. The Second Circuit denied the petitions for review, holding that it was not arbitrary or capricious for the SEC to conclude that Petitioner Doe's submissions did not provide "original information to the Commission that led to" a successful enforcement action, because Doe's submissions were not used by the Deutsche Bank team. Therefore, the SEC was not equitably estopped from denying Doe's award. The court also held that the SEC did not violate Doe's due process rights by failing to provide Doe with certain materials, and the SEC did not act arbitrarily or capriciously by favoring Claimant 2's submissions over Doe's. Furthermore, petitioners were not entitled to an award for the information they submitted in their Form TCR. Finally, the court held that petitioners' remaining claims were without merit. View "Kilgour v. SEC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Citigroup, alleging gender discrimination and whistleblower retaliation claims under several local, state, and federal statutes, including the Dodd‐Frank and Sarbanes‐Oxley Acts. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court appropriately compelled arbitration of all but plaintiffʹs Sarbanes‐Oxley claim, including her Dodd‐Frank whistleblower retaliation claim, because her claims fall within the scope of her employment arbitration agreement and because she failed to establish that they are precluded by law from arbitration. The court also held that plaintiff's Sarbanes‐Oxley claim was properly dismissed because the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over it inasmuch as plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under the statute. View "Daly v. Citigroup Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their claims against Sequoia Fund, alleging that Sequoia Fund breached a contractual obligation not to concentrate its investments in a single industry. The Second Circuit agreed with the district court's alternative holding and affirmed the judgment. The court assumed, without deciding, that plaintiffs plausibly alleged the existence of a contract that included the Concentration Policy as an enforceable term that could not be changed without a shareholder vote. Even assuming the existence of a binding contract, however, the court held that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege a breach. In this case, because the SEC's 1998 Guidance ‐‐ and by extension the Concentration Policy ‐‐ allows for the passive increases at issue, plaintiffs have failed to allege a violation of the Concentration Policy. View "Edwards v. Sequoia Fund, Inc." on Justia Law