Articles Posted in Securities Law

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Benjamin Ashmore appealed the district court's order dismissing him as the plaintiff in a whistleblower action under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. 1514A. Instead, the trustee of Ashmore's bankruptcy estate was substituted as plaintiff. The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the district court's dismissal of the case as to Ashmore and the substitution of the trustee as plaintiff were interlocutory orders that were not immediately appealable. The court vacated the temporary stay of the district court proceedings and denied Ashmore's pending motion to stay as moot. View "Ashmore v. CGI Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a securities class action alleging claims arising out of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) shares for Vivint Solar. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that the "extreme departure" test in Shaw v. Digital Equipment Corp., 82 F.3d 1194 (1st Cir. 1996), is not the law of this circuit and that Vivint's omissions were not material under the test set forth in DeMaria v. Andersen, 318 F.3d 170 (2d Cir. 19 2003), to which the court adhered. The court also held that Vivint did not mislead shareholders regarding the company's prospects in Hawaii. View "Stadnick v. Vivint Solar, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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After Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, thousands of its employees were holding restricted stock units (RSUs) that had been awarded over the preceding five years, but that had not yet vested and had thus been rendered worthless by the bankruptcy filing. The employees filed proofs of claim in the Chapter 11 proceeding and Lehman Brothers filed omnibus objections to the claims. The Second Circuit noted that it need not determine whether an RSU is an "equity security" under 11 U.S.C. 101(16), because, even if it is, RSU holders are not barred from asserting proofs of claim—such as the breach‐of‐contract claims asserted here—inasmuch as at least some of their claims are not duplicative of proofs of interest. However, the Second Circuit affirmed and concluded that Lehman Brothers' omnibus objections must nonetheless be sustained on the alternative ground that, pursuant to section 510(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. 510(b), the claims must be subordinated to the claims of general creditors because, for purposes of this statute, (1) RSUs are securities, (2) the claimants acquired them in a purchase, and (3) the claims for damages arise from those purchases or the asserted rescissions thereof. View "In re: Lehman Bros." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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EDMC challenges the district court's holding that a series of transactions meant to restructure EDMC’s debt over the objections of certain noteholders violated Section 316(b) of the Trust Indenture Act of 1939, 15 U.S.C. 77ppp(b). The district court ordered EDMC to continue to guarantee Marblegate's notes and pay them in full. The court agreed with EDMC that EDMC complied with Section 316(b) because the transactions did not formally amend the payment terms of the indenture that governed the notes. The court concluded that Section 316(b) prohibits only non‐consensual amendments to an indenture’s core payment terms. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Marblegate Asset Management v. Education Management Finance Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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Plaintiffs, trustees of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., pension fund, filed suit against its investment manager and principals alleging that defendants knew by 1998 that investing with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) was imprudent; that these defendants breached their fiduciary duty by failing to warn the fund of this fact; that if warned, the fund would have withdrawn the full sum appearing on its 1998 BLMIS account statements; and that prudent alternative investment of that sum would have earned more than the fund’s actual net withdrawals from its BLMIS account between 1999 and 2008. Plaintiffs also filed suit against Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, which acquired the investment manager in 2000, alleging that it knowingly participated as a non‐fiduciary in the fiduciary breach. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) and for failure to allege an actual injury sufficient to establish Article III standing under Rule 12(b)(1). The court concluded that plaintiffs failed to allege facts sufficient to show Article III standing where plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged losses in excess of their profits; the increase in pension funds does not constitute a cognizable loss; the court rejected plaintiffs' claim of disgorgement of Simon and Wohl; and the complaint fails to state a claim against BNY Mellon for participation in a breach of fiduciary duty by Ivy, Simon, and Wohl. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Trustees of the Upstate New York Engineers Pension Fund v. Ivy Asset Management" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA, Securities Law

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In these consolidated appeals, defendant Virginia K. Sourlis challenges the district court's judgment in an enforcement action brought by the SEC in connection with public offerings of unregistered shares of stock of defendant Greenstone. The district court granted a motion by the SEC for summary judgment on issues of liability, holding Sourlis--an attorney who wrote a January 11, 2006 opinion letter ("Sourlis Letter") relating to one of the offerings--liable for violating section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act"), 15 U.S.C. 77e; violating 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act"), 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5; and aiding and abetting violations of section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5, in violation of section 20(e) of the Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78t(e). The Superseding Final Judgment orders Sourlis to pay a total of $57,284.83 as a civil penalty, disgorgement, and prejudgment interest, and permanently bars her from participating in so-called "penny stock" offerings. The court found no error in the district court's determinations of liability and no abuse of discretion in its remedial order. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment in Nos. 14-2301 and 15-3978. The court dismissed as moot the SEC's cross-appeal in No. 14-2937. View "SEC v. Sourlis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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Defendant John B. Frohling appeals the district court's judgment in an enforcement action brought by the SEC in connection with public offerings of unregistered shares of stock of defendant Greenstone. The district court granted a motion by the SEC for summary judgment on issues of liability, holding Frohling--who as Greenstone's securities counsel in 2006-2008 wrote, approved, or concurred in 11 opinion letters relating to all of the relevant offerings--liable for violating section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act"), 15 U.S.C. 77q(a); section 5 of the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. 77e; and section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act"), 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5. The Superseding Final Judgment orders Frohling to pay a total of $204,161.86 as a civil penalty, disgorgement, and prejudgment interest, and permanently bars him from participating in so-called "penny stock" offerings. The court found no basis for reversal and affirmed the judgment. View "SEC v. Frohling" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78p(b), against, inter alia, Lead Underwriters. Plaintiff sought to hold Lead Underwriters liable under Section 16(b) for disgorgement of short-swing profits received in connection with their sales and purchases of shares in the course of Facebook, Inc.'s initial public offering (IPO). The district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the lock-up agreements alone did not render the Lead Underwriters beneficial owners of the aggregated shares held by the Shareholders under Section 13(d). The court agreed that this standard form lock-up agreement is insufficient, on its own, to establish a group under Section 13(d). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Lowinger v. Morgan Stanley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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Plaintiffs, investors in Vivendi's stock during the relevant time period, filed a class action suit against Vivendi, alleging that Vivendi’s persistently optimistic representations during the relevant period constituted securities fraud under section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act), 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), as well as the Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Rule 10b–5 (Rule 10b–5) promulgated thereunder, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b–5. The court affirmed as to Vivendi's claims on appeal, concluding that: (1) plaintiffs relied on specifically identified false or misleading statements at trial and thus, contrary to Vivendi’s argument on appeal, did not fail to present an actionable claim of securities fraud; (2) Vivendi’s claim that certain statements constituted non‐actionable statements of opinion is not preserved for appellate review; (3) Vivendi’s claims that certain statements constituted non‐actionable puffery and that others fall under the Private Securities Law Reform Act’s safe harbor provision for “forward‐looking statements,” see 15 U.S.C. 78u‐5(c), is without merit; (4) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s determination that the fifty‐six statements at issue here were materially false or misleading with respect to Vivendi’s liquidity risk; (5) the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the testimony of plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Blaine Nye; and (6) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding as to loss causation. As to plaintiffs' cross-appeal, the court affirmed and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding certain foreign shareholders from the class at the class certification stage; and did not err in dismissing claims by American purchasers of ordinary shares under Morrison v. Nat’l Austl. Bank Ltd. View "In re Vivendi, S.A. Secs. Litig." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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This appeal stems from the same set of underlying facts as those in In re Vivendi S.A. Securities Litigation, Nos. 15‐180‐cv(L), 15‐208‐cv(XAP), in which the court today issued a separate opinion. GAMCO, so-called "value investors," filed a securities fraud action against Vivendi under section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act), 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), as well as the Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Rule 10b–5 (Rule 10b–5) promulgated thereunder, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b–5. The district court subsequently entered judgment for Vivendi. The court concluded that the record supports the district court’s conclusion that, if GAMCO had known of the liquidity problems and their concealment, GAMCO would still have believed Vivendi’s PMV to be “materially higher” than the public market price. The court also concluded that it was also not clearly erroneous for the district court to conclude that knowledge of Vivendi’s liquidity problems would not have changed GAMCO’s belief that a catalyst was likely — i.e., its belief that the market price would rise towards the PMV, if not immediately, then over the course of the next several years. In this case, the record at the trial simply does not establish that it was clearly erroneous for the district court to find that GAMCO, had it known of the liquidity problems at Vivendi, would have made the choice to buy the same securities it purchased. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "GAMCO v. Vivendi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law