state court securities litigation

Cornerstone Research has released its annual survey of securities class action lawsuit filings for 2019. The year’s version of the report introduces some notable innovations. In prior years, the annual report focused exclusively on federal court securities suit filings. In last year’s report, the survey also incorporated significant state court securities litigation data. This year for the first time the report fully incorporates the state court data in the presentation and analysis. The updated report also includes several new interesting perspectives on the past year’s securities litigation filings, particularly with respect to state court lawsuit filings. As the report details, the state court filings “helped push filing activity to record levels.”
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The number of federal court securities class action lawsuit filings during 2019 was consistent with the heightened number of filings in each of the two prior years. The total number of suits during 2019 was significantly increased by the number of federal court merger objection lawsuit filings, but even just with respect to the traditional suit filings, the number of securities suit filings in 2019 was well above historical levels. The 2019 federal court securities litigation rate (that is, the number of lawsuits relative to the number of listed companies) was at an all-time high.
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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 the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 2018 Cyan decision, in which the Court affirmed that state court’s retain concurrent jurisdiction for liability action under the ’33 Act, plaintiffs’ lawyers have initiated a number of Section 11 actions in the courts of a number of states. This new wave of state court Securities Act lawsuits is now making its way through the courts. As the cases have progressed, in some instances the state courts have granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The latest example of a state court granting a defendants’ motion has now occurred in the Connecticut state court claim alleging ’33 Act violations in connection with Pitney-Bowes September 2017 debt note IPO. The Connecticut court’s October 24, 2019 order granting the defendants’ motion to strike, a copy of which can be found here, raises a number of interesting issues.
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Nessim Mezrahi

In numerous prior posts on this site (for example, here), I have written about the problems caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 2018 decision in Cyan, Inc. v. Beaver County Employees Retirement Fund. In the following guest post, Nessim Mezrahi, cofounder and CEO of SAR, a securities class action data analytics and software company, issues a call for reform to address the “confusion” that Cyan has caused. A version of this article previously appeared on Law 360. I would like to thank Nessim for allowing me to publish his article 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 publish a guest post. Here is Nessim’s article.
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Plaintiffs filed federal court securities class action lawsuits at  “near-record levels” during the first six months of 2019, according to a new report from Cornerstone Research. The July 31, 2019 report, entitled “Securities Class Action Filings: 2019 Midyear Assessment,” notes that the elevated filing levels continued in the year’s first half despite reduced numbers of merger objection lawsuit filings. In addition to the number of federal court filings, there were a significant number of state court securities suit filings, bringing overall filing levels close to all-time highs. The new report can be found here. Cornerstone Research’s July 31, 2019 press release about the report can be found here. My own analysis of the first half filings can be found here.
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As a result of  the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 2018 Cyan decision, in which the Court ruled that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction over ’33 Act liability actions, companies issuing shares now face the risk of having to face parallel securities litigation in state and federal court. Among the many problems this risk poses is the possibility that, due to the differing pleading standards between state and federal court, Securities Act liability suits that would be dismissed in federal court might survive a dismissal motion in state court. New York is among the states where many post-Cyan securities suits are being filed and where differences in pleading standards might lead to a fewer state court lawsuit dismissals relative to the dismissal rate in state court. However, notwithstanding these concerns, a New York state court judge recently entered an order dismissing a post-Cyan securities suit, raising the possibility that defendants may be able to dismiss securities suits filed in New York state court after all.  
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During the first six months of 2019, federal court securities class action lawsuit filings remained well above historical levels and roughly on pace with the elevated filing levels in 2018. The number of federal court securities suit filings was significantly increased by the number of federal court merger objection lawsuit filings; however, even disregarding the merger objection lawsuit filings, the number of new lawsuits remains well above historical averages. The total securities suit filings during the years first six months were even further raised by significant numbers of state court securities class action lawsuit filings, as well.
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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.
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In a recent post, I commented on the settlement of a state court securities class action lawsuit relating to the defendant company’s secondary offering, suggesting in the post among other things that the state court suit was noteworthy because it was the first state court secondary offering-related securities suit of which I was aware. In response to the post, I received a helpful and informative email from my friends at Stanford Securities Litigation Analytics, who pointed out that over time there actually have been quite a number of state court secondary offering-related securities suits. Following their direction, I was able to research this issue further myself using their site’s analytic tools and confirm a number of their observations to me about these kinds of lawsuits. Turns out, as they informed me, there have in fact been a number of state court secondary offering-related securities lawsuits, both pre- and post-Cyan, as set out below. This information could have significant implications both for companies conducting secondary offerings and for their D&O insurers.
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