The opioid crisis is not anything new; it has been around for years. Indeed, more than three years ago I posted an item noting the outbreak at the time of a rash of opioid-related securities class action lawsuits. But while the opioid crisis has been around for years, plaintiff shareholders continue to file opioid-related securities suits. On January 20, 2021, a plaintiff shareholder filed a securities class action lawsuit against Walmart in the District of Delaware based on the U.S. Department of Justice’s December 2020 lawsuit against the company alleging a role in the opioid epidemic. A copy of the securities class action lawsuit complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Walmart Hit with Opioid-Related Securities Class Action Lawsuit

Driven largely by several mega-settlements (that is, settlements of $100 million or greater), the aggregate value of global securities class action settlements in 2020 totaled 61% more than in 2019, according to a new report. The report, entitled “2020 Securities Related Settlements Exceed $5.8 Billion,” and published in a January 18, 2021 post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, was written by Jeff Lubitz of ISS Securities Class Action Services. The report can be found here.
Continue Reading Aggregate Securities Class Action Settlements Grew Substantially in 2020

Nessim Mezrahi
Stephen Sigrist

In the following guest post, Nessim Mezrahi and Stephen Sigrist discuss their analysis of Rule 10b-5 private securities fraud litigation in 2019 and 2020 against U.S. Issuers, and the impact of recent guidance by the 2nd and 7th Circuits on Halliburton II stock price impact defenses at the class certification stage.  Mezrahi is cofounder and CEO and Sigrist is a data scientist at SAR.  SAR’s January 8, 2021 press release discussing a more detailed 4Q 2020 securities class action analysis can be found here. A version of this article previously was published on Law360. I would like to thank Nessim and Stephen for allowing me to publish their 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 the authors’ article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Halliburton II Price Impact Defenses Can Limit Severity on Deficient Exchange Act Claims

In prior posts on this site, I have identified privacy-related issues as a potentially important source of future D&O claims. In making these projections, one thing I had in mind was the possibility of claims as a result of the enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in May 2018. There have in fact already been GDPR-related securities class action lawsuits filed in the U.S., including the securities suit filed in August 2018 against U.K.-incorporated media tracking company Nielsen Holdings. In a January 4, 2021 opinion, Southern District of New York Judge Jesse Freeman granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motion to dismiss the Nielsen Holdings lawsuit. Of significance to the questions concerning privacy-related claims, the plaintiff’s allegations concerning defendants’ statements after GDPR went into effect about the GDPR’s impact on the company survived the dismissal motion. A copy of Judge Furman’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading GDPR-Related Securities Suit Against Nielsen Holdings in Part Survives Dismissal Motion

In my recent survey of key 2020 D&O developments I highlighted the surge of SPAC IPOs last year and conjectured about the possible increase in the number of D&O claims that might arise following the transactions in which private companies merge into the public traded SPACs ( the so-called de-SPAC transaction). A securities suit filing this week demonstrates how these claims might well arise and does suggest we could indeed be in for an influx of securities suits and other D&O claims filed following de-SPAC transactions.
Continue Reading Post-SPAC Merger Company Hit with Post-Transaction Securities Suit  

In my round-up of the Top D&O Stories of 2020, which I published earlier this week, I noted that the recent massive state-actor hack of U.S. government agencies and technology companies underscored the fact that cybersecurity represents a significant operational and management risk for organization of every type. I also noted that cybersecurity-related issues represent an ongoing D&O claims risk. As if to confirm these propositions, the first securities class action lawsuit of the New Year was filed against Solar Winds, the network infrastructure management company whose breached software is believe to have contributed to the recent massive hack. As discussed below, the newly filed complaint highlights the fact that cybersecurity represents a significant potential source of management liability risk.
Continue Reading SolarWinds Hit with Securities Suit Based on Third-Party Governmental Actor Cyber Attack

The number of federal court securities class action lawsuit filings declined in 2020 relative to the most recent prior years, largely due to short-term filing lulls during the second and fourth quarters of the year. Though the number of filings last year was below the record-setting levels seen during the years 2017 to 2019, the number of 2020 filings was still well above historical annual averages.
Continue Reading Securities Suit Filings Declined in 2020 But Remained Above Historical Levels

As I noted in a recent post, one of the most distinctive phenomena in the U.S. financial markets this year has been the tremendous amount of IPO activity involving Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs). According to SPACInsider (here), there have been 243 SPAC IPOs so far in 2020 (as of December 22, 2020), raising total gross proceeds of over $81.3 billion. As I also noted in my prior post, lawsuits relating to SPACs are starting to accumulate. In the latest example of a securities suit relating to a SPAC transaction, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a securities class action against the surviving company following a SPACs acquisition of a target company; the complaint in the lawsuit names as defendants not only the CEO of the surviving company, but also the former president of the SPAC. As discussed below, this new lawsuit may have implications for possible future SPAC-related securities litigation in 2021, and possibly even beyond.
Continue Reading SPAC-Acquired Company Hit with Post-Acquisition Securities Suit

As I have noted in prior posts (most recently here), allegations of bribery and improper payments often lead to follow-on securities class action lawsuits. Although historically claimants in these kinds of securities suits have had mixed results, some of these lawsuits have resulted in significant settlements (including most notably the $3 billion settlement in the Petrobras case). In the latest of these bribery follow-on lawsuits to result in a significant settlement, on December 11, 2020, the parties to the securities lawsuit pending against the Chilean company Chemical and Mining Company of Chile Inc. (a/k/a Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A., or “SQM’) filed with the  court their agreement to settle the lawsuit based on SQM’s agreement to pay $62.5 million. The parties’ December 11, 2020 stipulation of settlement can be found here. The lead plaintiff’s motion for preliminary approval of the settlement can be found here.
Continue Reading Chilean Company Pays $62.5 Million to Settle Bribery-Related Securities Suit

In the same December 11, 2020 Order in which it rejected the bid by the Texas Attorney General to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court also agreed to take up a case involving the effort of Goldman Sachs to overturn the certification of a class in the long-running securities lawsuit. The case relates to the bank’s alleged conflicts of interest in structuring collateralized debt obligation securities before the global financial crisis. The case will require the Court to address important questions pertaining to the ability of securities lawsuit defendants opposing class certification to attempt to rebut the presumption of reliance and the extent to which the defendants in opposing class certification can rely on matter that is also relevant to merits-related issues such as materiality.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Take Up Securities Suit Class Certification Issues