A third California state court has ruled that a provision specifying that federal courts are the exclusive forum for the resolution of ‘33 act liability actions is valid and enforceable. This latest decision — in a state court securities class action lawsuit pending against Dropbox — suggests that a broad consensus is emerging in California court to enforce federal forum provisions. But while the Dropbox decision is largely consistent with the prior California state court decisions enforcing FFP, there are certain features of the Dropbox decision that make it noteworthy and interesting in its own right. A copy of the December 4, 2020 decision in the Dropbox case can be found here. A December 8, 2020 memo from the Seyfarth Shaw law firm about the ruling can be found here.
Continue Reading Third California State Court Upholds Enforceability of Federal Forum Provision

recent guest post on this site opined that because of the volume of Section 11 litigation being filed in New York state court, New York’s courts “will have a major role in shaping the standards applied in Securities Act litigation going forward.” If that is the case, then the recent New York appellate court ruling reversing a trial court’s dismissal motion denial in a state court Section 11 action could be significant. According to a December 4, 2020 Law360 article (here), the ruling represents the first time the New York appellate division has addressed the merits of a federal ’33 Act claim since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Cyan. The New York appellate court’s December 3, 2020 ruling can be found here.
Continue Reading NY Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court’s Dismissal Denial in State Court Securities Suit

In reliance on the federal forum provision (FFP) in the company’s corporate charter, a California Superior Court judge has granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the state court ’33 Act liability action pending against Uber. The ruling represents the second occasion on which a California state court has dismissed a state court ’33 Act liability action in reliance on an FFP in the corporate defendant’s charter, providing further hope that the adoption of FFPs may help companies address the Cyan problem – that is, the possibility of having to face identical ’33 Act liability actions in both state and federal court. The California Superior Court’s November 16, 2020 order in the Uber case can be found here.
Continue Reading State Court Securities Suit Against Uber Dismissed Based on Federal Forum Provision

In recent months, IPO activity has reached levels “not seen since the dot-com era,” according to a recent report on the IPO market. On November 3, 2020, the IPO Tracker reported that October was the busiest month for IPOs in 20 years. As discussed below, all this IPO activity may foretell the possibility of increased IPO-related securities litigation ahead.

According to the IPO Tracker, there were 85 IPOs completed in October 2020, which is “the busiest single month for IPOs in 20 years” – surpassing even September 2020’s totals, which had been the busiest month in that period.  The October surge brings the 2020 YTD total through year’s first ten months to 351 completed offerings, which surpasses “every yearly total since 2000.”
Continue Reading Does Increased IPO Activity Foreshadow Increased IPO-Related Securities Litigation Ahead?

After the Delaware Supreme Court’s March 2020 decision in Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi upholding the facial validity of corporate charter provisions designating federal court as the forum for Securities Act liability claims, several questions remained. Among the questions is whether others’ states courts will recognize and enforce federal forum provisions in Delaware corporations’ charters. This issue has been teed up for decision in a Section 11 lawsuit pending in San Mateo County court in California, in a case involving Dropbox. Dropbox has filed a motion urging the California state court to dismiss the action, in reliance on the federal forum provision in its corporate charter.

As discussed Alison Frankel’s July 13 post on her On the Case blog (here), a group of six ex-judges from Delaware has now entered an amicus brief on the issue in the case, urging the California court to recognize Delaware legal authority and enforce the federal forum provision in Dropbox’s charter. The Dropbox case, according to Frankel, is “shaping up as an early test of the application of the [Sciabacucchi decision] that forum selection clauses requiring shareholders to litigate Securities Act claims in federal court are facially valid because they concern the corporation’s internal affairs.”
Continue Reading California Court to Address Enforceability of Delaware Corporation’s Federal Forum Provision

Over the last two years, there have been two important judicial decisions concerning Section 11 litigation. In March 2018, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held in the Cyan case that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction over lawsuits asserting liability claims under the Securities Act of 1933, a development that has increased the number of state court securities class action lawsuits. In March 2020, in Salzberg v. Sciabacucchi, the Delaware Supreme Court upheld the facial validity of corporate charter provisions requiring Section 11 claims to be litigated in federal court. A June 22, 2020 post of the CLS Blue Sky Blog entitled “State Section 11 Litigation in the Post-Cyan Environment (Despite Sciabacucchi)” (here) assesses the Section 11 litigation environment in light of these developments. The paper, written by Stanford Law School Professor Michael Klausner and Jason Hegland, Carin LeVine, and Jessica Shin of Stanford Securities Litigation Analytics, summarizes the authors’ more detailed academic paper (here), as discussed below.
Continue Reading The Post-Cyan Section 11 Litigation Environment

A recent guest post on this site expressed the view that because of the volume of Section 11 litigation being filed in New York state court, New York’s courts “will have a major role in shaping the standards applied in Securities Act litigation going forward.” If that is the case, then the recent ruling by a New York trial court judge granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss in a state court Section 11 action could be significant. New York (New York County) Supreme Court Judge Barry Ostrager’s May 15, 2020 ruling in the consolidated Sundial Growers Securities Litigation can be found here.
Continue Reading Dismissal Granted in New York State Court Securities Class Action

Priya Cherian Huskins

In a recent post, I took a look at the rise in the number of state court securities class action lawsuits that have been filed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Cyan case. In the following guest post, Priya Cherian Huskins of Woodruff Sawyer & Co. takes a deeper look at the state court securities class action data to assess the extent of the threat of state court securities class action litigation relating to follow-on offerings. A version of this article was previously published in Woodruff-Sawyer’s D&O Notebook.  I would like to thank Priya for her willingness to allow me to publish her 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 Priya’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Is it Really that Bad? Follow-On Offerings and Section 11 Suits in State Court

As readers will recall, in March 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Cyan case that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction for liability actions under the Securities Act of 1933. Commentators have correctly identified this decision as primarily of concern to IPO companies. However, one question I regularly get is whether Cyan could mean that companies conducting secondary offerings could also face state court class action securities litigation. I have usually answered this question by saying that while it is theoretically possible, for a number of reasons I thought it was relatively unlikely. Besides, I usually have added, I am not aware of any class action lawsuits in which claimants have filed ’33 Act claims relating to a secondary offering in state court. That is, I was not aware – until now.
Continue Reading Secondary Offerings and State Court Securities Suits

One idea circulating since the U.S. Supreme Court held in Cyan that state court Section 11 actions are not removable to federal court is that companies could avoid state court actions by adopting a federal forum bylaw or charter provision. Indeed, a number of companies recently have adopted these provisions prior to going public. Late last year, a shareholder of several IPO companies filed an action in Delaware Chancery Court seeking a judicial declaration that the companies’ Federal Forum Provisions are invalid. On December 19, 2018, Vice Chancellor Travis Laster issued a memorandum opinion agreeing with the plaintiff and holding that under Delaware law, Federal Forum Provisions are invalid and ineffective. A copy of Laster’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading Delaware Court Holds Charter Provision Designating a Federal Forum for Section 11 Claims is Invalid