The plaintiffs alleged that when a real estate investment trust (REIT) disclosed that a financially troubled key tenant was making “partial monthly rent payments” — but omitted to mention that the tenant’s rent payments had been funded by an undisclosed loan from the REIT, not from the tenant’s own revenues — the REIT committed securities fraud. The district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint, concluding that the plaintiffs had failed to plead a strong inference that the REIT had acted with the requisite scienter. However, in an interesting August 3, 2020 opinion (here), the Second Circuit reversed the district court, concluding that the plaintiffs’ allegations were sufficient to satisfy the scienter pleading requirements. The opinion includes an interesting analysis of the scienter pleading requirements in an omission case alleging recklessness.
Continue Reading Second Circuit Reverses District Court, Concludes Plaintiffs Adequately Pled Scienter

In a study that analyzes both federal and state securities suit filings during the first half of 2020  (unlike other prior first half reports that analyzed only federal court filings), Cornerstone Research reports that combined state and federal suits in the year’s first six months were down 18% compared to the second half of 2019 and at the lowest level since 2016.  The report, which was published in conjunction with the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, is entitled “Securities Class Action Filings: 2020 Midyear Assessment,” can be found here. Cornerstone Research’s July 29, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading Cornerstone Research: Federal and State Securities Suit Filings Down in Year’s First Half

There were a record number of securities class action lawsuits filed against tech companies in 2019, according to a new report from Cornerstone Research. The report, entitled “Tech Company Securities Class Action Filings and Settlements: 2015-Q1 2020 Review and Analysis” (here) also shows that the number of securities suit filings against tech companies increased each year compared to the prior year during the four-year period from 2016-2019. Cornerstone Research’s July 15, 2020 press release about the new report can be found here.
Continue Reading Cornerstone Research: Tech Companies Hit with Record Number of Securities Suit in 2019

After the Delaware Supreme Court’s March 2020 decision in Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi upholding the facial validity of corporate charter provisions designating federal court as the forum for Securities Act liability claims, several questions remained. Among the questions is whether others’ states courts will recognize and enforce federal forum provisions in Delaware corporations’ charters. This issue has been teed up for decision in a Section 11 lawsuit pending in San Mateo County court in California, in a case involving Dropbox. Dropbox has filed a motion urging the California state court to dismiss the action, in reliance on the federal forum provision in its corporate charter.

As discussed Alison Frankel’s July 13 post on her On the Case blog (here), a group of six ex-judges from Delaware has now entered an amicus brief on the issue in the case, urging the California court to recognize Delaware legal authority and enforce the federal forum provision in Dropbox’s charter. The Dropbox case, according to Frankel, is “shaping up as an early test of the application of the [Sciabacucchi decision] that forum selection clauses requiring shareholders to litigate Securities Act claims in federal court are facially valid because they concern the corporation’s internal affairs.”
Continue Reading California Court to Address Enforceability of Delaware Corporation’s Federal Forum Provision

Largely due to a significant decline in the number of filings during May and June, the number of federal court securities class action lawsuit filings in the first half of 2020 was well below the number of filings at the same point last year – although still well above long-term historical levels. The number of first half filings was significantly boosted by a cluster of securities suit filings against cryptocurrency companies that were sued on a single day in April, as well as by the number of coronavirus outbreak-related securities suits.
Continue Reading Securities Suit Filings Decline in Year’s First Half

As noted in a prior post, on June 22, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court entered its opinion in Liu v. SEC, in which the Court addressed a number of questions surrounding the SEC’s authority to seek disgorgement. In the following guest post, Stephen Cutler, Michael Osnato, Meaghan Kelly and M Moore of the Simpson Thacher law firm take a closer look at the Court’s opinion and consider its implications. I would like to thank the authors 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: Supreme Court Affirms SEC’s Disgorgement Remedy, but Places Limits on Its Use

One of the shorthand expressions sometimes used to refer to shareholder class action litigation is to call them “stock drop lawsuits.” Securities suits do indeed involve stock drops. But how often do stock drops actually result in lawsuits? That is the interesting questions asked in the following guest post from Stanford Law School Professor Michael Klausner and Sam Blake Curry and Jason Hegland of Stanford Securities Litigation Analytics. I would like to thank the authors 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: “Stock Drop” Lawsuits

Over the last two years, there have been two important judicial decisions concerning Section 11 litigation. In March 2018, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held in the Cyan case that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction over lawsuits asserting liability claims under the Securities Act of 1933, a development that has increased the number of state court securities class action lawsuits. In March 2020, in Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi, the Delaware Supreme Court upheld the facial validity of corporate charter provisions requiring Section 11 claims to be litigated in federal court. A June 22, 2020 post of the CLS Blue Sky Blog entitled “State Section 11 Litigation in the Post-Cyan Environment (Despite Sciabacucchi)” (here) assesses the Section 11 litigation environment in light of these developments. The paper, written by Stanford Law School Professor Michael Klausner and Jason Hegland, Carin LeVine, and Jessica Shin of Stanford Securities Litigation Analytics, summarizes the authors’ more detailed academic paper (here), as discussed below.
Continue Reading The Post-Cyan Section 11 Litigation Environment

Gregory A. Markel
Sarah A. Fedner

As this blog’s readers know, a recurring recent topic on this blog has been the need for another round of securities class action litigation reform. In the following guest post, Gregory A. Markel and Sarah A. Fedner of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm explore the possible opportunities for reform with respect two specific areas of concern: duplicative state and federal court litigation in the wake of Cyan and the payment of mootness fees in merger cases. The authors outline the policy objections to these practices and suggest that Congress should intervene to end them. My thanks to Greg and Sarah 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 Greg and Sarah’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Two Areas for Reform in Securities Litigation