As I have noted in prior posts, one of the most significant securities litigation phenomenon over recent months has been the rise of lawsuits involving special purpose acquisition corporations (SPACs). Last week, two more of these SPAC-related suits were filed. Although the new lawsuits have features in common with many of the prior SPAC-related suits, they also have several interesting distinctive attributes as well, as discussed below.
Continue Reading More Securities Lawsuits Filed Against Post-SPAC-Merger Companies

The directors’ and officers’ liability environment is always changing, but 2021 was a particularly eventful year, with important consequences for the D&O insurance marketplace. The past year’s many developments also have significant implications for what may lie ahead in 2022 – and possibly for years to come.  I have set out below the Top Ten D&O Stories of 2021, with a focus on the future implications. Please note that on Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 11:00 AM EST, my colleague Marissa Streckfus and I will be conducting a free, hour-long webinar in which we will discuss The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2021. Registration for the webinar can be found here. I hope you will please join us for the webinar.
Continue Reading The Top Ten D&O Stories of 2021

The number of federal court securities class action lawsuits filed during 2021 declined significantly compared to the number filed in 2020, and the number of 2021 filings was sharply below the elevated number of securities suits filed each year during the period 2017-2019. The most significant factor in the 2021 drop-off was the decline in the number of federal court merger objection class action lawsuit filings during the year, although there were other factors at work as well. Though the number of filings in 2021 declined relative to the elevated number of annual filings during period 2017-2020, the number of 2021 filings was above longer-term historical annual filings levels prior to 2017, as discussed below.
Continue Reading Securities Filings Declined in 2021 Relative to Recent Elevated Years, Closer to Long-Term Levels

Sarah M. Abrams, Esq.

As I noted in my recent survey of key directors’ and officers’ liability issues, one of the most significant recent developments in the financial markets has been the meteoric rise of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). In the following guest post, Sarah Abrams, Director, Management Liability Claims at Markel, takes a look at the SPAC phenomenon and considers the underwriting implications, particularly with respect to climate tech companies. I would like to thank Sarah for allowing me to publish her article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submission 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 Sarah’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Heating Up: SPAC Climate Tech Companies and Underwriting Considerations

Last week, when a group of plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a shareholder’s derivative suit against Bill Ackman’s SPAC seeking damages and alleging the company was really an Investment Company that should be registered under the Investment Company Act, I assumed the attorneys filed the suit because it was Ackman’s firm; because of the size and prominence of the SPAC; and because of Ackman’s unusual plan to invest the SPAC’s IPO proceeds in a minority interest. Well, it turns out, the plaintiffs’ lawyers involved were just getting started. They have now filed two more shareholders derivative suits against two other SPACs’ boards and sponsors, based on the same theory as in the Ackman SPAC suit that the SPACs involved are really Investment Companies that should be registered under the Investment Company Act. Looks like these SPACs-are-Investment-Companies suits are a thing now, and this could all get very interesting.
Continue Reading More SPACs-Are-Really-Investment-Companies Derivative Suits Filed

John Reed Stark

Among the agencies largely closed by the current partial U.S. federal government shutdown is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the following guest post,  John Reed Stark, President of John Reed Stark Consulting and former Chief of the SEC’s Office of Internet Enforcement, takes a look at what the SEC’s closure means for the processes and responsibilities that constitute the agency’s watch. Stark calls on the country’s political leaders to end the stalemate and re-open the government, including the SEC. Every day the shutdown continues, and the SEC staff remain at home, Stark says, the risks to U.S. markets increase. A version of this article originally appeared on Securities Docket. I would like to thank John for allowing me to publish his article as a guest post. 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 John’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Why the Shutdown Must End

As I have noted in prior posts, a number of commentators have proposed that companies filing with the SEC to complete IPOs ought to be able to include in their bylaws a mandatory arbitration provision requiring shareholder claimants to submit claims – including even claims under the federal securities laws – to arbitration. This idea, which has been percolating for years, received a significant boost in a statement last summer from outgoing SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar, in which he suggested that the SEC would favorably view submissions by IPO companies that included bylaw provisions requiring mandatory arbitration of securities claims. As detailed in an April 23, 2018 paper from Elisa Mendoza of ISS Securities Class Action Services entitled “The Uncertain Role of IPOs in Future Class Actions” (here), this idea has its critics. But what might this kind of mandatory arbitration proposal, if put into action, actually mean for securities class action litigation going forward? Mendoza’s paper helpfully takes a statistical look at this question in light of historical securities litigation involving IPO companies.
Continue Reading IPO-Related Securities Litigation and the Idea of Shareholder Claim Mandatory Arbitration

As I noted at the time, on March 20, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its unanimous decision in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund, holding that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction for liability actions under the Securities Act of 1933. In the following guest post, Doug Greene, Jessie Gabriel, Marco Molina, and Brian Song of the Baker & Hostetler law firm take a comprehensive look at the decision, including its context and significance. As the authors note, the decision has important implications for companies and their D&O insurers, as well as for claims going forward. 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: The State of Securities Litigation After Cyan

sup ct 3In a June 27, 2017 order (here), the United States Supreme Court granted the petition of Cyan, Inc. for a writ of certiorari to consider the question of whether or not state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction for liability lawsuits under the ’33 Act, or whether as a result of changes to the relevant statutes under the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA), state courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over ’33 Act suits. This case will address what has become a significant issue in IPO-related securities class action litigation, particularly in California, which is whether or not the plaintiffs’ state court securities class lawsuits can be removed to federal court or must be remanded back to state court.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Whether State Courts Retain Jurisdiction for IPO Securities Suits