People have been predicting that SCOTUS’s 2018 Cyan decision – which held that class actions alleging claims under the Securities Act of 1933 may be heard in state court – would be a boon for the plaintiffs’ bar…and a big problem for IPO companies & their D&O carriers. Cornerstone’s midyear assessment of securities class action filings certainly suggests that plaintiffs have found the decision encouraging.
But a D&O Diary blog points to a glimmer of hope in New York – where many post-Cyan suits are being filed because the state’s pleading standards are less onerous than at the federal level. The blog explains that a New York State trial judge recently dismissed a case brought against an IPO company & its underwriters under Sections 11 and 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act. Here’s an excerpt:
To the extent that the plaintiffs’ lawyers were motivated to file in state court based on perceived advantages at the motion to dismiss stage, Judge Borrok’s decision represents something of a reality check. Judge Borrok’s opinion is thorough, sure-handed, and shows no discomfort in working with the federal securities laws and relevant case law. (In that regard, Judge Borrok’s reliance on the Omnicare decision underscores the importance of that ruling in opinion cases.) The state court pleading standard does not seem to have been a factor in the ruling. And no one would mistake Judge Borrok’s opinion as plaintiff friendly.
The decision in the Netshoes case is of course just one ruling by one trial court judge. It has no precedential value and may have only limited value as an indicator of how New York state courts generally may deal with the new influx of securities cases. Moreover, Judge Borrok’s dismissal of the Netshoes case was without prejudice; the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to try to cure the shortcomings Judge Borrok noted in his decision. For all we know, the plaintiffs might well succeed in amending their complaint and in surviving the next round of dismissal motions.
However, one can hope that Judge Borrok’s ruling may help send a message that the plaintiffs may need to reconsider whatever perceived advantages they may think they have in proceeding in state court rather than federal court.
–Liz Dunshee, TheCorporateCounsel.net August 7, 2019