October 23, 2009

Forbidden Alchemy

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an opinion this week in Indiana State District Council v. Omnicare, Inc., 2009 WL 3365189 (6th Cir. Oct. 21, 2009) that has a few interesting holdings.

(1) Loss causation - The court held that loss causation was inadequately plead as to certain alleged misstatements premised on non-compliance with GAAP. In the absence of any financial restatement and given the continued willingness of Omnicare's auditors to certify the company's GAAP compliance, the court concluded that "the complaint does not suggest that the alleged GAAP violations were ever recognized or revealed to the market."

(2) Confidential Witnesses - The court reaffirmed its willingness to "steeply discount" the statements of confidential witnesses. In the instant case, the plaintiffs provided no information about a key confidential witness "except the title of his position" and there was a disconnect between what the witness knew and the alleged subject matter of the fraud.

(3) Pleading Standard for Section 11 Claims - The court joined the vast majority of other circuits (with the notable exception of the 8th Circuit) in holding that Section 11 claims that "sound in fraud" must be plead with particularity.

Holding: Dismissal of fraud claims affirmed; Section 11 claim remanded for evaluation of whether it met applicable pleading standard.

Quote of note: "Seizing on a few vague statements from management, the plaintiffs try to turn bad corporate news into a securities class action. Because the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (“PSLRA”) forbids such alchemy, we generally affirm the district court's dismissal, although we reverse its disposition regarding the claims brought under the Securities Act of 1933."

Posted by Lyle Roberts at October 23, 2009 10:11 PM | TrackBack
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