In prior posts, I have detailed the havoc that the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 2018 decision in the Cyan case has wrought, as Securities Act liability class action defendants find themselves facing multiple parallel suits in both federal and state court. A recent ruling in a consolidated federal court action involving the failed Miller Energy Company underscores the procedural disarray that Cyan continues to cause; in this case, the federal court, in reliance on Cyan, has remanded to state court two actions that pre-Cyan had been removed to federal court and consolidated with a third federal court action. As discussed below, this decision demonstrates yet another way in which Cyan produces outcomes contrary to procedural simplicity and judicial efficiency.  Eastern District of Tennessee Judge Thomas Varlan’s December 6, 2019 decision in the case can be found here.
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In a unanimous March 20, 2018 opinion written by Justice Elena Kagan, the U.S. Supreme Court held that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction over class action lawsuits alleging only violations of the Securities Act of 1933’s liability provisions and that these state court class action lawsuits are not removable to federal court. The court’s holding resolves a lower court split in the authorities on question of whether or not the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA) eliminated concurrent state court jurisdiction for these ’33 Act class action lawsuits or made the state court ’33 Act lawsuits removable to federal court.

As discussed below, Court’s ruling is likely to result in an increase in ’33 Act claims in state court, a development that could have unwelcome consequences for corporate defendants and their insurers. The Supreme Court’s March 20, 2018 decision in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund can be found here.
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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.
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