A big factor in the heightened levels of securities litigation filings in 2018 and one of the most important recent litigation trends has been the rise of event-driven securities litigation. These are securities lawsuits based not – as was the case in the past – on accounting misstatements or financial misrepresentations, but on setbacks in a company’s operations that affect a company’s share price. In recent months, securities suits have been filed following wildfires, plane crashes and data breaches. Given this trend and in light of the significance of the event, it arguably should be no surprise that plaintiff lawyers have now filed a U.S. securities class action lawsuit after the most recent Brazilian dam collapse, the January 25, 2019 disaster at Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Continue Reading Latest Brazilian Dam Disaster Leads to Event-Driven Securities Suit

As I have often noted (for example, here), a company’s announcement that it is the subject of an FCPA-related investigation frequently leads to the filing of a follow-on civil lawsuit in which investor claimants allege either that the company’s senior officials have violated their oversight duties or that the company’s public disclosure statements were insufficient in some way relating to the alleged misconduct. As I have also noted, these kinds of follow-on lawsuits, while frequently filed, often are unsuccessful.

Both of these aspects of the follow-on civil lawsuit track record are relevant in connection with the wave of litigation that has followed in the wake of the massive anti-bribery investigation in Brazil. Many of the companies caught up in the continuing anti-corruption investigation in Brazil have been hit with follow-on securities suits in the U.S. While there have been noteworthy exceptions, many of these cases have been unsuccessful. Most recently, the defendants’ motion to dismiss was granted in the anti-bribery investigation-related securities class action lawsuit that had been filed against the Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer. Southern District of New York Richard M. Berman’s March 30, 2018 opinion granting the motion to dismiss can be found here. The decision is interesting and it highlights many of the challenges claimants face in pursuing these kinds of claims.
Continue Reading Frequently-Filed FCPA Follow-On Securities Suits Face Formidable Obstacles

In one of the largest U.S. securities class action lawsuit settlements ever, the Brazilian-based energy company Petrobras has agreed to settle the bribery and corruption-related securities class action lawsuit pending against the company in the Southern District of New York for $2.95 billion. The settlement, which is subject to court approval, resolves only the claims of Petrobras investors who purchased the company’s securities in the U.S.; it does not resolve the claims of investors who purchased Petrobras securities in Brazil.  The settlement resolves the case just before the U.S. Supreme Court was to consider whether to take up a cert petition in which the defendants sought to have the high court address class certification issues in the case. The company’s January 3, 2017 press release describing the settlement can be found here. The plaintiffs’ lawyers’ January 3, 2017 press release about the settlement can be found here.
Continue Reading Petrobras Settles U.S. Securities Suit Based on Corruption-Related Allegations for $2.95 Billion

EletrobrasAs I have frequently noted (most recently here), Brazil’s ever-expanding corruption investigation that initially focused on Petrobras, the country’s state-run oil company, has swept up an increasing number of companies across the country’s economy (and elsewhere in Latin America as well). Among the companies caught up in the investigation is the country’s state-run electrical energy company, Eletrobras, which like many of the companies under investigation that have securities trading on U.S. exchanges, was hit with a corruption-related U.S. securities class action lawsuit. The defendants in the Eletrobras securities suit moved to dismiss. In a lengthy and interesting March 25, 2017 opinion (here), Southern District of New York Judge John Koeltl largely denied the dismissal motion. The ruling is interesting not only because it relates to one of the Brazilian companies caught up in the corruption scandal, but also because it addresses a number of interesting legal issues.
Continue Reading Brazilian Energy Company’s Corruption-Related U.S. Securities Suit Survives Dismissal Motion

brazil flagThe massive Brazilian corruption scandal that began with an investigation of the state-owned oil company Petrobras and that has since spread both to other industries, including the construction industry, and to other Latin American countries, has now spread to an investigation of unsanitary practices and corruption in Brazil’s meatpacking industry. Among the Brazilian companies caught up in this latest scandal is JBS S.A., which is the world’s largest meat processing company. As has been the case with other companies caught up in Brazilian corruption scandal, JBS, whose Level 1 ADRs trade over-the-counter in the U.S., has now been hit with a follow-on securities class action lawsuit in the United States. This lawsuit is the latest in the string of lawsuits filed against companies from Brazil and elsewhere Latin America that have been hit with U.S. securities suits following news of their involvement in the burgeoning corruption scandal.
Continue Reading Brazilian Corruption Scandal Spreads to Meat Industry, U.S. Securities Litigation Follows

granaThe massive Petrobras bribery scandal has long since spread beyond just the Brazilian petroleum company itself to encompass a number of different other companies. As I have previously noted on this blog, many of the Brazilian companies caught up in these investigations have been hit with securities class action lawsuits in the U.S. Among the companies caught up in the growing anti-corruption scandal is the Brazilian-based multinational construction company, Odebrecht. Investigations based on the Odebrecht scandal having now spread to companies in other Latin American countries, including, among others, Peru. As discussed below, plaintiffs’ lawyers have now filed a U.S. securities class action lawsuit against one of the Peruvian companies caught up in the Odebrecht scandal, showing that the potential fallout from the corruption investigation that began in Brazil now represents a significant liability risk exposure for companies and their executives throughout Latin America.
Continue Reading Brazilian Corruption Scandal Leads to Liability Exposures in Other Latin American Countries

brazilOn November 14, 2016, in an interesting lawsuit that brings together a number of recent securities litigation trends, a noteholder of Samarco Mineração, S.A. filed a purported securities class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against the company and its CEO on behalf of investors who purchased the company’s debt securities. Samarco, a joint venture of mining giants Vale, S.A., and BHP Billiton, owned and operated the Fundão tailings dam that collapsed on November 5, 2015, in what has been called Brazil’s worst-ever environmental disaster. There are a number of interesting features to this new lawsuit, beyond just its relationship to the dam collapse disaster. A copy of the plaintiff’s November 14, 2016 complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Privately-Held Brazilian Mining Company Hit with U.S. Securities Class Action

embraerAs I have noted in prior posts (most recently here), in recent months a number of Brazilian companies have been hit with a wave of U.S. securities class action lawsuits. These suits have followed in the wake of corruption scandals and environmental disasters in Brazil. Now yet another Brazilian company has been hit with a U.S. securities class action lawsuit, as aircraft manufacturer Embraer and certain of its directors and officers has been sued in a securities suit following allegations that of the company’s involvement in the payment of bribes to government officials in the Dominican Republic. In addition to being the most recent securities lawsuit filed in the U.S. against a Brazilian company, the new lawsuit also represents the latest example of a securities suit arising in the wake of a bribery investigation.
Continue Reading Yet Another Brazilian Company Hit with U.S. Securities Suit

brazilAs a result of scandals, investigations, and even an environmental catastrophe, there has been a wave of securities lawsuit filings in the U.S. against Brazilian-domiciled companies whose securities are listed in the U.S. This filing trend began in late 2014 with the first lawsuit filing against Petrobras and certain of its directors and officers, which was in turn followed by lawsuits against other companies caught up in the corruption scandal. In recent weeks lawsuits related to a separate regulatory investigation in Brazil have emerged, bringing the total number of securities lawsuits pending in the U.S. against Brazilian companies to six. These developments, along with events in Brazil itself, have roiled the D&O insurance marketplace in Brazil, particularly for Brazilian companies with securities listed in the U.S.
Continue Reading Onslaught of Securities Suits Against Brazilian Companies Continues

valeOn December 7, 2015, in a complaint that reflects a number of current U.S. securities class action lawsuit filing trends, a plaintiff securityholder filed a securities class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York under the U.S. securities laws against the Brazilian mining giant Vale, S.A. and two of its officers. The complaint relates to the massive dam failure that occurred on November 5, 2015 near Mariana, in the Minas Gerais state, in Brazil. The failed dam is the property of Samarco Mineração, S.A., a joint venture between Vale and BHP Billiton. The securities suit plaintiff claims that the Vale defendants made misleading statements about the company’s safety and environmental standards and risk management, as well as about the spill itself.
Continue Reading A Burst Dam in Brazil, a U.S. Securites Lawsuit, and a Heap of Current Litigation Trends