Event-driven securities suits

Tim Hoeffner
Paul Ferrillo

In the following guest post, Tim Hoeffner and Paul Ferrillo of the McDermott Will & Emery law firm take a look at the Eighth Circuit’s April 10, 2020 decision in the Target Corporation securities class action lawsuit, in which the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case. I would like to thank Tim and Paul for allowing me the opportunity 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 Tim and Paul’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Eighth Circuit on Target on Appeal

Among the numerous companies hit with #MeToo-related management liability lawsuits in the late 2017 to early 2019 time frame was the national pizza restaurant company Papa John’s International Inc. The plaintiffs in the securities class action lawsuit alleged that company founder and former CEO John Schnatter and other executives sexually harassed company employees and cultivated a hostile workplace culture while the company misleadingly touted the Company’s culture and failed to divulge the true conditions to investors. The defendants’ moved to dismiss. In a March 16, 2020 order, Southern District of New York Judge Kimba Wood granted motion to dismiss, with leave to amend. Judge Wood’s order can be found here.
Continue Reading Papa John’s #MeToo-Related Securities Suit Dismissed, For Now

Once again, wildfires are raging across the length of California, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Once again, the electricity transmission facilities of PG&E are thought to have caused or contributed to at least some of the wildfires. And once again, in the wake of the wildfires, shareholders have launched a securities class action lawsuit against company executives. As discussed below, the new lawsuit is the latest example of the way in which transformative changes arising from climate change can lead to directors’ and officers’ liability litigation.
Continue Reading Securities Suit Arising From Climate Change-Caused Conditions Hits Utility

Just about everyone who has been active in the D&O insurance arena for a while knows that every now and then one industrial segment or another will suddenly find itself in the midst of  a securities litigation blitz. Years ago after the Internet bubble burst, it was the dot com companies. Further back than that, as at least some of us can remember, there were all of the failed banks in the S&L Crisis (and, again, in the wake of the global financial crisis). More recently, companies in the opioid pharmaceuticals space have drawn the unwanted attention of the plaintiffs’ securities lawyers. Often these kinds of securities suits and other D&O claims follow after some industry-wide event or sector slide.

Now, it appears, another sector is drawing heat. The e-cigarette business has found itself in the headlines recently as health-related issues have been raised about the product. These health questions have been followed, almost inevitably as things go in this country, by lawsuits. As discussed below, these lawsuits now include, in at least some instances, securities class action lawsuits.
Continue Reading Securities Suits Filed Against Companies Involved in E-Cigarette Business

At a time when litigation involving corporate disclosures regarding cybersecurity, privacy, and human resource practices and other hot topics dominate the discussion, potential corporate exposure arising from environmental liabilities and disclosures does not always receive the attention it deserves. However, as I have previously noted on this blog,  environmental disclosures can and frequently are the subject of D&O litigation, both in the form of securities class action litigation and shareholder derivative litigation. A new securities suit recently filed against 3M is the latest example of corporate and securities litigation arising from environmental disclosure-related issues. As discussed further below, the 3M complaint is also the latest example of event-driven securities litigation as well.
Continue Reading Environmental Liability-Related Securities Suit Filed Against 3M

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

When news of the recent massive data breach at Marriott began circulating late last week, a colleague emailed and asked me how long I thought it would take for a D&O lawsuit to be filed. I emailed back that I thought there would be a securities class action lawsuit before the end of business on Monday (December 3). Turns out, I didn’t give the plaintiffs’ lawyers nearly enough credit for haste. The plaintiffs’ lawyers managed to file a securities class action lawsuit against the company on December 1, 2018, just one day after Marriott announced the breach. The lawsuit is the latest example both of a data breach-related D&O lawsuit and an event-driven securities suit, as discussed further below.
Continue Reading Marriott Hit with Data Breach-Related Securities Lawsuit

Late last month, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after its takeoff in Jakarta, killing all 189 passengers and crew members on board. As details about the doomed flight have emerged, investigators have raised questions about the possible malfunction of new flight control features on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet involved in the crash, as well as about Boeing’s documentation and training relating to the flight control features. Under these circumstances, the possibility that there might be litigation is hardly surprising. What might be less obvious is that the litigation against Boeing relating to the crash might involve a securities class action lawsuit.
Continue Reading First The Plane Crash, Then The Securities Lawsuit

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

Richard Zelichov

One phenomenon I have noted on this blog is the rise of event-driven securities class action lawsuits. Rather than being based on alleged or financial misrepresentations, as has traditionally and historically been the case in securities suits, these suits follow in the wake of and are based on adverse events in the company’s operations. A recent high-profile example of an event-driven suit is the securities class action lawsuit that was filed against Arconic in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire last year.  In the following guest post, Richard H. Zelichov, a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP specializing in defending issuers and their directors and officers in securities class actions and stockholder derivative litigation, takes a look at the event-driven litigation phenomenon and the larger rise of securities suits based on mismanagement allegations. I would like to thank Richard for his willingness to allow me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Richard’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Corporate Mismanagement Becomes Event-Driven Securities Litigation