Technology-based education firm K12, Inc., which hoped to be able to profit from the pandemic-related shift to virtual learning , has been hit with a securities class action lawsuit alleging that the company’s share price declined after school systems using its platform to address their online learning needs allegedly experienced disappointing results. A copy of the shareholder plaintiff’s November 19, 2020 complaint can be found here.
Continue Reading Online Learning Firm Hit with COVID-19-Related Securities Suit

As I noted at the time, earlier this month the SEC released its enforcement activity report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. While the report fully detailed the agency’s enforcement activity, the report did not break out statistics reflecting the SEC’s actions against publicly traded companies. A November 18, 2020 report from Cornerstone Research, written in collaboration with the NYU Pollack Center for Law & Business, entitled “SEC Enforcement Activity: Public Companies and Subsidiaries Fiscal Year 2020 Update” (here), takes a detailed look at SEC enforcement activity involving publicly traded companies and their subsidiaries during FY 2020.

As was the case with enforcement activity overall, enforcement activity involving publicly traded companies declined during FY 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, but after a sharp drop in activity during the first half of the fiscal year, enforcement activity rebounded toward the end of the second half. The agency’s $1.6 billion in public company monetary settlements slightly exceeded the equivalent figures for FY 2019. Cornerstone Research’s November 18, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Public Company Enforcement Actions Decreased in FY 2020, But Recoveries Increased

Readers of this blog well know that in recent years there has been unprecedented levels of securities class action litigation activity, and that even in the midst of the current global health crisis plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed what one law firm has characterized as a “wave” of COVID-19-related securities litigation. The heightened pace of securities filings over the last several years has already triggered calls for another round of securities litigation reform. Now, organizations representing business interests have filed a petition with the SEC seeking to have the agency implement a number of reforms to protect businesses from “unjustified COVID-19 lawsuits.”
Continue Reading Petition to SEC Seeks Protection for Companies from Pandemic-Related Securities Suits

Since the coronavirus outbreak emerged earlier this year, I have been tracking the COVID-19-related securities class action lawsuits and writing about each of the cases as they have come in. In an October 28, 2020 memo entitled “COVID-19: Lessons from the Second Wave of Securities Fraud Lawsuits” (here), the WilmerHale law firm takes a deeper look at the coronavirus-related securities litigation, with particular focus on the securities suits filed in the May to September 2020 time frame. Along the way, the memo identifies a number of securities lawsuits filed during that period as coronavirus-related that I had not included in my COVID-19 litigation tally. As discussed below, the memo makes several interesting points about the coronavirus-related securities suits. I also discuss below whether or not I agree that the additional cases that the law firm identified in the memo belong on the list of coronavirus-related cases.
Continue Reading Tallying and Analyzing COVID-19-Related Securities Suits

Due to the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of U.S. bankruptcy filings by companies with over $100 million in assets was 84 percent higher during the first three quarters of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report from Cornerstone Research. The report, entitled “Trends in Large Corporate Bankruptcy and Financial Distress: 2005-Q3 2020” (here), shows that the increase in the number of bankruptcies was particularly pronounced for “mega bankruptcies” (involving companies with over $1 billion in reported assets). However, the report also suggests that the number of bankruptcy filings by companies with over $100 million in assets may have peaked in July. Cornerstone Research’s October 28, 2020 press release about the report can be found here.
Continue Reading Cornerstone Research: Business Bankruptcies Up Significantly in Year’s First Nine Months

As part of a continuing series of recordings, I have been participating in sessions the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) has organized discussing the potential D&O liability and insurance issues arising out of the coronavirus outbreak and the related economic disruption. In each session in the series I have been joined by my good friends

In the latest COVID-19-related securities class action lawsuit filing, the cruise ship company Royal Caribbean Cruises has been hit with a securities suit alleging that the as the viral disease spread earlier this year the company attempted to soft-pedal its statements about the outbreak’s impact on its operations and bookings, as well as about the safety threat that the outbreak represented for ship crews. As discussed further below, the new lawsuit against Royal Caribbean reflects several of the key trends in the coronavirus-related lawsuits. A copy of the new complaint against Royal Caribbean can be found here.
Continue Reading Royal Caribbean Hit with COVID-19-Related Securities Suit

In the latest SEC enforcement action relating to alleged misrepresentations pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak, the agency has filed a securities fraud action against the President and Chief Science Officer of a biotechnology company who allegedly made false statements to investors concerning the status of his company’s COVID-19 test. The enforcement action complaint also contains allegations concerning the individual’s statements about the status of his company’s delinquent SEC reporting. The enforcement action underscores the fact that the SEC intends to enforce the securities laws with respect to company statements falsely suggesting the company is in a position to profit from the coronavirus outbreak. A copy of the SEC’s September 25, 2020 complaint can be found here. The SEC’s September 25, 2020 press release regarding the enforcement action can be found here.
Continue Reading SEC Files COVID-19-Related Enforcement Action Against Biotech Company Exec

In the latest D&O lawsuit based on allegations related to the COVID-19 outbreak, a plaintiff shareholder has filed derivative lawsuit against the board of a vaccine developer, Vaxart, claiming that corporate insiders and the company’s largest investor profited when the company falsely claimed that it was part of the federal government’s accelerated program for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The complaint in the lawsuit, which alleges that the defendants violated their fiduciary duties and federal securities laws regarding proxy disclosures, can be found here.
Continue Reading Vaccine Company Hit with COVID-19-Related Derivative Lawsuit