Posts tagged as:

securities litigation

Matt Levine concludes that a large share of it was for making dumb trades, as opposed to intentional malfeasance. (Earlier on whether regulators had taken a bead on Morgan because of chief Jamie Dimon’s perceived bad attitude.) Will Morgan’s admissions materially help plaintiff’s lawyers in the inevitable shareholder class action? Don’t be so sure [Alison Frankel, Reuters] More: WSJ (sees politics), Hank Greenberg via FedSocBlog, Iain Murray.

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Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on September 5, 2013

  • With arbitrary power to order capital levels, FDIC is Death Star to community banking [Kevin Funnell]
  • “Oh please. We’re not going too easy on [convicted inside trader] Raj Rajaratnam.” [John Carney]
  • “Ronald Coase and the nature of shadow banking” [also John Carney]
  • “Say-on-pay” as “lawyer-driven” litigation [Pepper Hamilton via Bainbridge]
  • I’m a guest on Jim Puplava’s “Financial Sense” podcast [link]
  • Wall Street, housing lobby to get their way again: “I’m afraid that the fix is in on housing finance reform.” [Arnold Kling]
  • Channeling Bernie Sanders? Thumbsucker on decline of IBM as employer fingers shareholder value theory promoted by ever-so-wicked Chicago school [Washington Post]
  • Wells Fargo gets a lending-discrimination class action tossed, but there’ll be others where it came from [Andrew Trask]
  • After bank burglarizes Ohio woman, law will give her curiously little satisfaction [Popehat]
  • North Las Vegas scheme to seize underwater mortgages through eminent domain raises constitutional opposition [Kevin Funnell]
  • “The SAC Insider Trading Indictment” [Bainbridge, WSJ MoneyBeat]
  • “He who sells what isn’t his’n/Must buy it back or go to prison.” Most naked short selling driven by fundamentals, study says [Daniel Fisher]
  • NY AG Schneiderman to Thomson Reuters: don’t you dare sell early access to the market-moving survey you pay for [Bainbridge]
  • “The Confidential Witness Problem in Securities Litigation” [Kevin LaCroix]
  • “The puzzling return of Glass-Steagall” [Tabarrok]
  • “FATCA: How to Lose Friends, Citizens and Influence” [Colleen Graffy, WSJ via Paul Caron/TaxProf, earlier]

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Why Elizabeth Warren is wrong about them [Prof. Bainbridge]

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To allege scienter (intent or knowledge of wrongdoing) in securities fraud cases, lawyers sometimes avow to the court that they have one or more confidential sources who tipped them off to the wrongdoing. If the court accepts this story, they may keep a case alive for which there would otherwise be no or inadequate evidence. Trouble is, the confidential informants can be, if not entirely a mirage, then flimsier on inspection than the court might have assumed. Cory Andrews of WLF tells of a recent ruling by Judge Richard Posner in a case called City of Livonia Employees’ Retirement System v. Boeing:

Seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, plaintiffs filed a putative class action alleging that Boeing Company, along with its CEO and the head of its commercial aircraft division, committed securities fraud in violation of federal law. The district judge dismissed the complaint for failing to allege sufficient facts to properly plead the requisite scienter for fraud. Not to be deterred, plaintiffs promptly filed an amended complaint, but this time with detailed bombshell revelations from a confidential source. Ultimately, however, the allegations in the amended complaint could not withstand even the slightest scrutiny.

As Posner describes it:

The plaintiffs’ lawyers had made confident assurances in their complaint about a confidential source — their only barrier to dismissal of their suit — even though none of the lawyers had spoken to the source and their investigator acknowledged that she couldn’t verify what (according to her) he had told her.

Their failure to inquire further puts one in mind of ostrich tactics —of failing to inquire for fear that the inquiry might reveal stronger evidence of their scienter regarding the authenticity of the confidential source than the flimsy evidence of scienter they were able to marshal against Boeing.

Noting that the same law firm [Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd] had been accused of “similar conduct” in three other reported cases, Posner [on behalf of a unanimous panel] remanded the matter back to the district judge, who would be in a better position to calculate a dollar amount for Rule 11 sanctions.

May 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 2, 2013

  • After bank trespass, Occupy Philadelphia benefits from jury nullification and a cordial judge [Kevin Funnell]
  • Cato commentaries on Cyprus crisis [Steve Hanke and more, Dan Mitchell, Richard Rahn podcast]
  • “NY Court Reinstates Foreclosure, Chides Judge For `Robosigning’ Sanctions” [Daniel Fisher] “Impeding Foreclosure Hurts Homeowners As Well As Lenders” [Funnell]
  • SEC charging Illinois with pension misrepresentation? Call it a stunt [Prof. Bainbridge]
  • “Plaintiff Lawyers Seek Their Cut On Virtually All Big Mergers, Study Shows” [Fisher] As mergers draw suits, D&O underwriting scrutiny escalates [Funnell] “Courts beginning to reject M&A strike suits” [Ted Frank]
  • Will Dodd-Frank conflict minerals rules actually help folks in places like Congo? [Marcia Narine, Regent U. L. Rev. via Bainbridge, earlier here]
  • “Securities Lawyers Gave To Detroit Mayor’s Slush Fund”; city served as plaintiff for Bernstein Litowitz [Fisher]

Never mind the (alleged by former employee) lurid sex stuff, says Daniel Fisher, let’s talk about this law firm’s shortcomings in filing securities actions [Forbes]

“I mean, frankly, I am totally puzzled, given that plaintiffs’ bar in this area uses the Wall Street Journal as their source of clients and cases, right? You guys read it every day, looking for scandal, right? Other people read People Magazine, but you read the Wall Street Journal.” – Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald (S.D.N.Y.), during a proceeding on the LIBOR class actions. [Staci Zaretsky, Above the Law] “And in other news, the Sun rose today.” [@LawyerKitty]

The Economist on an unplanned (at least one hopes it was unplanned) effect of Dodd-Frank:

THE Dodd-Frank law of 2010 requires a “say-on-pay” vote for shareholders of American companies. Clever lawyers scent a payday for themselves.

One law firm in particular, Faruqi & Faruqi, has filed a series of class-action suits demanding more information about how companies decide what to pay their senior executives. It seeks to prevent its targets from holding their annual meetings until the extra information turns up. One such suit, against Brocade Communications, a Californian company, forced the suspension of the annual meeting last February. Brocade quickly settled. Faruqi’s fees were $625,000. Several other companies, not wanting to delay their meetings, have settled similar suits.

Prof. Bainbridge is reminded of the specialized group of non-lawyers in Japan known as sokaiya, who extract money from target companies by threatening (among other things) to disrupt annual meetings.

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Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on January 31, 2013

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Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on January 14, 2013

  • But not before extracting $8.5 B: “Finding Little Evidence Of Foreclosure Fraud, Feds Give Up” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes; Kevin Funnell] Can Baltimore distinguish vindication from extortion? [Funnell]
  • Dear grandstanders in Congress and press: by law AIG’s board had to consider request to join bailout suit [Bainbridge, John Carney]
  • “Plaintiff Lawyers in Citigroup Case Seek Big Markup For Outside Attorneys” [Daniel Fisher, more, ABA Journal]
  • “Everyone knows” CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) lending was too small in volume to be a major factor in bubble. Is everyone right? [NBER paper, SSRN via Cowen, Tuccille]
  • Beware the CFPB’s Civil Investigative Demand (CID) power [Funnell, more]
  • “Investor class action system needs review – judge” [Nate Raymond, Reuters]
  • “Are the New Wave Say-on-Pay Lawsuits ‘Gaining Steam’?” [Kevin LaCroix]

Putting the 2010 bill to work:

Now, lawyers have found a new way to bring lawsuits over executive pay, resulting in a handful of legal settlements. But the settlements to date have produced no changes in executive compensation and no money for investors. In fact, the main financial beneficiary so far has been a small New York law firm that brought the bulk of the cases.

[Nate Raymond, Reuters; Prof. Bainbridge]

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Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on November 14, 2012

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“The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform today released a study on merger-related litigation that concludes plaintiff lawyers take advantage of the court system to extract tens of millions of dollars a year in fees from companies at the expense of shareholders. A loophole in the federal law designed to cut down on securities class-action abuses allows lawyers to file suits challenging mergers in multiple state and federal courts, the study found, making it impossible for companies to consolidate the litigation in one place and increasing the odds they’ll pay the lawyers a fee to go away.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]

July 27 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 27, 2012

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The Economist on “Why American firms cannot do deals without being sued”:

In 2005, 39% of M&A deals were challenged by lawsuits, one study found. By 2011 a hefty 96% of acquisitions worth more than $500m were attracting suits…

J. Travis Laster of Delaware’s Chancery Court [has] become an outspoken public critic of “worthless”, “sue-on-every-deal” lawsuits. In March he told one group of plaintiffs’ lawyers: “I don’t think for a moment that 90%—or based on recent numbers, 95%—of deals are the result of a breach of fiduciary duty.”

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According to the Harvard Law School online catalog, the SRP is “a newly established clinical program” that “will provide students with the opportunity to obtain hands-on experience with shareholder rights work by assisting public pension funds in improving governance arrangements at publicly traded firms.”

Marty Lipton and others at Wachtell, Lipton don’t like the idea and criticize it here. More at NYT DealBook (via Bainbridge).

Reader J.B. emails to say:

Whatever one thinks of Wachtell’s substantive critique of the attack on classified/staggered boards, it’s kind of interesting for a law school to be promoting a “clinical program” in which the kids get to work for institutional investors with bajillions of dollars in assets (and, you know, the wherewithal to retain sophisticated counsel at market rates) rather than the sort of boring old indigent individuals that are the traditional law school clinic client base.

A different view: Max Kennerly.

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