November in London and Paris

Green Park, London

The D&O Diary was on assignment in Europe last  week, with a first stop for a short visit in London for meetings there. It isn’t always sunny in London in November. But when the sun does shine, it can be pretty special. The sun shone brightly in London while I was there and I was fortunate that I had a little bit of time in the mornings before my meetings to walk around and enjoy the scene, before moving on to my next stop on the travel itinerary. Continue Reading

First, Wildfires. Then What? Securities Litigation, Of Course

The recent massive wildfires in California have caused the loss of dozens of lives, and many more people are missing. Thousands have been displaced and many millions more have been affected. The property damage has been devastating. The Camp Fire in Northern California alone has destroyed tens of thousands of 10,000 homes and businesses. Even as the fires raged, questions surrounding the fires’ causes were raised. Media stories have circulated raising the possibility that the electric utilities may be to blame for starting the fires. There undoubtedly will be substantial inquiries and perhaps even liability proceedings. Now it appears that the accountability process may not only include efforts by property owners and survivor and loved ones to recoup their losses, but it may also include securities lawsuits by utility company investors who claim they were misled about the company’s fire safety readiness and potential liability exposure. Continue Reading

Guest Post: A New Twist in M&A Litigation: Section 11 Cases in State Court

Priya Cherian Huskins

As I noted in prior posts, in March 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Cyan case that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction for liability actions under the Securities Act of 1933. This development has been regarded as primarily a concern for IPO companies.  However, as discussed in the attached guest from Priya Cherian Huskins of Woodruff Sawyer, the Supreme Court’s affirmation of concurrent state court jurisdiction for ’33 Act claims may also be a concern for M&A companies as well.  A version of this article was previously published in Woodruff Sawyer’s D&O Notebook. I would like to thank Priya for her willingness to allow me to publish her article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Priya’s article.

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Texas State Court Dismisses Post-Cyan Securities Act Lawsuit

When the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in its March 2018 Cyan decision that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction over ’33 Act liability actions, commentators suggested that plaintiffs’ lawyers would opt to pursue Section 11 claims in state court, either in preference to or in addition to parallel federal court actions. Indeed, in many lawsuits filed in the past few months involving IPO companies, plaintiffs’ lawyers have indeed resorted to state court. However, a recent decision from a Texas state court highlights the fact that  whatever advantages the plaintiffs’ lawyers may think they have by proceeding in state court, their claims will still face scrutiny – and in the specific case at issue in Texas, dismissal. As noted in a November 13, 2018 Law 360 article (here), the Texas court’s dismissal is among the first by a state court following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Cyan. Continue Reading

Are GDPR Fines and Penalties Insurable?

When the European Union’s updated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect on May 25, 2018, media reports focused on the potentially massive fines that the regulation authorizes – the regulation authorizes fines of up to €20 million or 4 percent of a company’s annual worldwide revenue, whichever is higher, for noncompliance with the regulation’s strict data collection and use requirements. The possibility of regulatory fines of this magnitude immediately raised the question of whether or not insurance is available to protect companies against the huge financial exposure. The answer to this question, it turns out, is complicated. Continue Reading

PLUS Conference in San Diego  

The Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, the venue of the 2018 PLUS Conference

This past week I was in San Diego for the annual PLUS Conference. The venue was great, the weather was absolutely terrific, and the Conference overall was a great success, as the pictures below reflect. I also had the chance to see many old friends and to make some new friends as well. Continue Reading

Cybersecurity Disclosure Practices and Standards

In February 2018, the SEC updated its cybersecurity disclosure guidelines for reporting companies, emphasizing the importance to investors and markets for prompt and robust disclosure relating to cyber issues. Indeed, in April, the agency brought its first enforcement action relating to cybersecurity enforcement issues. In its recent annual report, the agency’s enforcement division emphasized that cybersecurity disclosure is a priority issue. Clearly, public company’s cybersecurity-related disclosure practices are receiving a great deal of attention and scrutiny.

 

But what are public companies actually doing in terms of cybersecurity disclosures? A recent study by EY took a look at the actual cybersecurity disclosure practices. Their analysis shows that cybersecurity-related disclosure practices “vary widely,” suggesting there is an “opportunity for enhancement.” The October 22, 2018 report, entitled “Cybersecurity Disclosure Benchmarking,” can be found here. Continue Reading

SEC 2018 FY Enforcement Report Shows Increased Activity, Recoveries

Both the volume of SEC enforcement activity and the level of financial recoveries increased in the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2018, according to the agency’s annual enforcement activity report. The increases came after activity had been down in the prior year, the first year under the current presidential administration. However, the agency’s enforcement chiefs cautioned against placing too much weight on the numbers alone. The report contains some interesting signs of what we might expect in the current fiscal year. The SEC’s enforcement report can be found here. The agency’s November 2, 2018 press release about the report can be found here. Continue Reading

Do Opt-Out Settlements of $217.5 Million Foreshadow the Future of Securities Litigation?  

In June 2017 when the U.S. Supreme Court entered its opinion in California Public Employees Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, in which the Court affirmed the Second Circuit and held that Securities Act of 1933’s three-year statute of repose is not subject to equitable tolling, one question that was asked was whether the Court’s ruling would encourage more securities suit class members to file protective actions before the statutory period expired in order to preserve their right to opt-out of the class action.

 

Recent developments in a securities class action involving VEREIT, a real estate investment trust and successor-in-interest to the troubled American Realty Capital Properties, in which VEREIT has entered three opt-out settlements with large institutional investors totaling a whopping $217.5 million, suggest that the concerns raised following the ANZ Securities decision may be coming to pass. These developments may also portend a very complicated future for U.S. securities class action litigation, at least in the most serious cases. Alison Frankel’s October 29, 2018 post on her On the Case blog about the VEREIT opt-out settlements can be found here. Continue Reading

Securities Lawsuit Filing Follows Generic Drug Price Fixing Allegations

As I have noted in prior posts (most recently here), in recent months, allegations of price fixing have given rise to follow-on securities class action lawsuit filings against generic drug companies alleged to have participated in the price-fixing. All of these kinds of cases are examples of a securities litigation trend in which securities suit filings following in the wake of underlying antitrust allegations. In the latest example of this type of lawsuit, a plaintiff shareholder has now filed a securities class action lawsuit against McKesson Corporation, asserting securities claims based on the company’s alleged involvement in a scheme to fix prices for generic drugs. As discussed below, this new lawsuit has a number of interesting features. Continue Reading

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