Confidential Witnesses

You all know the pattern: a short seller publishes a splashy report with attention-grabbing revelations about the operations or financial results of a listed company; the company’s shares decline; and a plaintiffs’ securities class action law firm files a securities class action lawsuit, often based solely on the accusations in the short seller’s report. The defendant company will of course file a motion to dismiss – but how will the court assess the accusations in the short seller’s report for purposes of determining the sufficiency of the plaintiffs’ allegations? In a November 2, 2023, Law360 article (here), Richard Zelichov of the DLA Piper law firm considers the way that courts should consider allegations based on short-seller reports.Continue Reading Short-Seller Reports and Securities Class Action Lawsuits

As a result of the PSLRA’s heightened pleading standard and pre-dismissal motion discovery bar, as well as the requirements of cases such as Tellabs, plaintiffs in liability suits under the federal securities laws frequently rely on confidential witnesses. This practice has led to  the “confidential witness problem” in securities litigation. In a September 25, 2017 post on The CLS Blue Sky Blog entitled “Confidential Distortion: Dealing with Confidential Witnesses in Securities Litigation” (here), Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee takes a look at the problems that have arisen in connection with confidential witness practices and the ways court have tried to deal with the problems. He then explores some possible “best practices” for courts and parties to use to try to avoid the problems, which I discuss below.
Continue Reading Addressing the Use of Confidential Witnesses in Securities Litigation

Jack Clabby

Avi Kaufman

One of the recurring issues with which federal district courts wrestle is the right way to assess securities complaint allegations based on confidential issues. Another recurring issue has to do with the assessment of trading in company securities by corporate insiders pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 trading plans. A recent decision by Second Circuit addressed both of these issues. The Second Circuit’s opinion in Employees’ Retirement System of Government of the V.I. v. Blanford, Case No. 14-cv-199 (2d Cir. July 24, 2015), can be found here.


In the following guest post, John E. Clabby and Avi R. Kaufman of the Carlton Fields Jorden Burt law firm review the Second Circuit’s opinion and in particular consider the appellate courts consideration of the confidential witness and Rule 10b5-1 trading plan issues. The authors’ bios appear at the end of the post.


I would like to thanks Jack and Avi for their willingness to publish their article on my 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 Jack and Avi’s guest post.


Late last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the dismissal of a shareholder class action against the makers of Keurig coffeemakers and their ubiquitous “K-Cups.” In so doing, the Second Circuit further described the standard for stating claims for securities fraud based on confidential witnesses and in the face of a 10b5-1 trading plan.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Second Circuit Revives Securities Fraud Class Action Against the Manufacturer of the Keurig Coffeemaker

In a decision that largely turned on detailed confidential witness statements, on June 7, 2011, Northern District of Alabama Judge Inge Prytz Johnson denied the motions to dismiss in the Regions Financial Corporation subprime-related securities lawsuit. This ruling is the latest of a series of decisions involving the company. The June7 ruling can be found