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In a scathing decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Court denied class certification of the Allergan securities class action (“Allergan”). See In re Allergan PLC Sec. Litig., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179371 (S.D.N.Y Sept. 29, 2020).
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The August 20, 2020 decision in In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Mktg., Sales Practices, and Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2672 CRB (JSC) by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (“the Opinion”), dismissing a significant portion of the SEC’s federal securities claims against Volkswagen as having been previously released by the DOJ, serves as an important reminder for why such coordination is important and how defendants may take advantage of the failure to coordinate, as did Volkswagen.
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Massachusetts Securities Division Begins Enforcement Of New State Fiduciary Conduct Standard

September 2, 2020 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, David L. Ward, Michael Pastore

On September 1, 2020, the Massachusetts Securities Division (“MSD”) began enforcing a new state regulation that holds all broker-dealers and their agents to a fiduciary conduct standard requiring them to “make recommendations and provide investment advice without regard to the financial or any other interest of any party other than the customer”.
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In ruling on Defendants’ motion to dismiss in the FX Opt-Outs Action, Judge Schofield narrowed the antitrust claims, denied dismissal on the basis of forum non conveniens, and denied dismissal of the unjust enrichment claim.
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On June 22, 2020, the Court issued its 8-1 opinion in Liu et al. v. Securities and Exchange Commission, holding that a disgorgement award is “equitable relief” permissible under 15 U. S. C. §78u(d)(5), and, as such, is relief that the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may properly seek as “appropriate or necessary for the benefit of investors.
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In what will likely be the first of many, the SEC brought an action against a company for false and misleading press releases related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Several State Securities Regulators continue to warn investors of investment scams involving COVID-19.
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SEC Says No Reg. BI Extension Despite COVID-19 Concerns

April 6, 2020 | Blog | By David L. Ward

In a Statement on April 2, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Jay Clayton, announced that the June 30, 2020 timeline for implementation of Regulation Best Interest (“Reg. BI”) will remain.
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On March 18, 2020, the Delaware Supreme Court (the “Court”) issued a groundbreaking decision reversing the Delaware Court of Chancery’s December 2019 ruling in Sciabacucchi v. Salzberg, 2018 Del. Ch. LEXIS 578 (Del. Ch. Dec. 19, 2018), and holding that charter provisions adopted by public companies that designate a federal forum for securities claims brought pursuant to the Securities Act of 1933 (“Federal Forum Provisions”) are valid and enforceable.
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Massachusetts Securities Division Rolls Out Final Version of Fiduciary Duty Rule

March 3, 2020 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Michael Pastore, Jason Burrell, David L. Ward

The Massachusetts Securities Division (the “Division”) has announced that they will begin to apply a fiduciary conduct standard to broker-dealers and agents when dealing with their customers.
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On November 1, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a summary order rejecting the appeal of an objector to the Foreign Exchange Antitrust Settlement. A few weeks earlier, U.S. District Court Judge Schofield had denied a motion filed by the objector and class counsel seeking an “indicative ruling” on their combined motion for approval of an agreement that would have ended the appeal. These two decision clear the way for the remaining distribution from the settlement fund, which totaled over $2.3 billion dollars.
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Last week, the district court entered an order, granting CalSTRS’ motion for intervention for the limited purpose of tolling the statute of repose. While there is no longer a risk that the complaint will be dismissed (the vast majority of Plaintiffs’ claims have since survived dismissal), CalSTRS has successfully preserved its right to opt out if a class is certified. Allowing CalSTRS (and others) to use motions to intervene to toll the statute of repose rather than forcing such putative class members to choose to forego their rights or file their own opt-out action may preserve resources and encourage efficiency of the courts.
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Years after Plaintiffs brought a federal securities complaint against Petrobras, and more than a year after the case settled for approximately $3 billion, Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the unsealing of the majority of documents attached to parties’ summary judgment papers. Cornell University intends to use these documents in an arbitration in Brazil. Not only does Judge Rakoff’s decision come as an important reminder that sealing orders are not intended to last forever, but this decision also demonstrates how a motion to unseal may be used to bypass the traditional requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1782, frequently invoked by entities seeking to use U.S. discovery in foreign proceedings.
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The U.S. Supreme Court denied defendants-appellees’ petition for certiorari in Hagan v. Khoja. As set forth in our prior alert, the executives of the now-defunct biotechnology company, Orexigen, sought review of a Ninth Circuit decision, which not only created a departure from other courts in its narrow-approach to incorporation by reference and judicial notice, but according to the petition, also distinguished itself by being the first Circuit Court of Appeal to find that an issuer owes a duty to update a statement of historical fact that was accurate when made. At issue was whether Orexigen had a duty to disclose data that demonstrated interim results from an obesity drug trial were not as promising as once touted. In opposition to the petition for certiorari, respondent argued, inter alia, that “[e]ven if petitioners were correct . . . that this case implicates whether companies have a duty to update earlier statements of historical fact, the interlocutory posture of this case would make it the worst kind of vehicle for considering that question.”
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In the Traffic Monsoon litigation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the enforcement provisions of the Securities Act and the Exchange Act reach Traffic Monsoon’s sales to customers outside of the United States. The implications of this decision are significant. This is the first Circuit Court decision to interpret Section 929P(b) of Dodd-Frank, and the first to adopt the position that Dodd-Frank limited Morrison’s application to allow for the enforcement provisions of the 1933 and 1934 Acts to apply extraterritorially. As a result, the decision may result in future decisions by the SEC to allow for holders of common shares to be eligible for recovery in connection with fair funds, rather than limiting eligible parties to holders of shares of American Depositary Shares or Receipts (ADR’s), a limitation the SEC imposed in the Fair Fund established for investors in BP. Recently, Traffic Monsoon has requested a stay of the Tenth Circuit's mandate while it prepares a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.
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The United States District Court of the District of Connecticut will soon decide whether a putative class member may intervene “for the limited purpose of tolling the statute of repose.” Statutes of repose place an outer limit on when a claim can be brought. For example, claims brought under Sections 11 and 12 of the Securities Act of 1933 are subject to a 3-year statute of repose, 15 U.S.C. § 77m, and claims brought under Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are subject to a 5-year statute of repose. 15 U.S.C. § 1658. Less than two-years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court held that unlike statutes of limitations, which may be tolled by the pendency of a class action, statutes of repose cannot be so equitably tolled. CALPERS v. ANZ Securities. Should the District Court deny the motion, the putative class member, who purchased millions of Teva shares during the proposed class period will be time-barred from opting-out of the securities class action at-issue or asserting its own claims should the action be dismissed.
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Last week, executives of the now-defunct biotechnology company, Orexigen filed a petition for certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking clarification of the duty to update under the federal securities laws. The petition seeks further review of a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit, Khoja v. Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc., 899 F.3d 988 (9th Cir. 2018), which not only created a departure from other courts in its narrow-approach to incorporation by reference and judicial notice, but according to Orexigen, also distinguished itself from other Circuit Courts by being the first Circuit Court to find that an issuer owes a duty to update a statement of historical fact that was accurate when made. Specifically, the Ninth Circuit held that “by touting and publishing the ‘surprisingly’ positive 25 percent interim results [of the drug at-issue’s ability to decrease cardiovascular events], Orexigen created its own obligation to report that those results did not pan out after all” as evidenced by the 50 percent interim results.
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In 2017, courts across this country were split on whether plaintiffs could assert a class action alleging claims under the Securities Act of 1933 (which provides a private right of action against issuers and others for providing false or misleading statements in offering materials) in state court. While California state courts recognized such jurisdiction, in New York, similar suits were routinely removed to federal court. In the midst of this jurisdictional uncertainty and prior to launching their respective initial public offerings, Blue Apron Holdings, Roku Inc., and Stitch Fix, Inc. adopted charter-based Federal Forum Provisions, in an attempt to make federal district courts the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting claims arising under the Securities Act.
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U.S. District Court Holds that Certain Claims by Opt-Out Plaintiffs Are Barred by the Statute of Repose

October 10, 2018 | Blog | By Joel Rothman, Kevin Mortimer, Ellen Shapiro, Alain Mathieu

In a recent ruling in In re: BP p.l.c. Securities Litigation the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas dismissed claims asserted by opt-out plaintiffs as time barred by the Exchange Act’s statute of repose pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in ANZ Securities. This decision underscores that institutional investors should closely monitor the statutes of limitation and repose applicable to securities fraud claims to ensure they are not later barred from recovery.
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