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The jurisdictional issues surrounding "foreign cubed" cases - i.e., an action brought against a foreign issuer, on behalf of a class that includes not only investors who purchased the securities in question on a U.S. securities exchange, but also foreign investors who purchased the securities on a foreign securities exchange - continue to be a hot topic. In In re Astrazeneca Sec. Lit., 2008 WL 2332325 (S.D.N.Y. June 3, 2008), the court addressed a proposed class in which 90% of the members were foreigners who purchased on foreign exchanges.
Under the conduct test for subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiffs needed to adequately allege that (a) the defendants' conduct in the U.S. was more than merely preparatory to the fraud, and (b) the defendants' actions in the U.S. "directly caused losses to foreign investors abroad." Although the court held that the plaintiffs adequately alleged "several of the fraudulent misrepresentations took place in the United States," the court was unwilling to apply a global fraud on the market presumption and find that the foreign purchasers relied on the U.S.-based conduct when deciding to acquire the stock. Accordingly, the court dismissed the action as to foreign purchasers on foreign exchanges.
Holding: Motion to dismiss granted (both on jurisdictional and, more generally, pleading grounds).
Quote of note: "The Securities Exchange Act does not address the question of extraterritorial reach. The Second Circuit has not yet given guidance on whether the fraud-on-the-market theory should apply to foreign countries. In the absence of clear authority in favor of a global fraud-on-the-market theory, this Court declines to adopt such a theory."
The recruitment of foreign institutional investors to act as lead plaintiffs in U.S. securities class actions is a well-established practice. An interesting look into how these clients are obtained can be found in a breach of contract action recently filed by a plaintiffs' firm against the lawyers it hired as "independent contractors" to develop international clients.
The agreement between the parties, which is an exhibit to the answer and counterclaim, stated that the lawyers would receive monthly compensation and 10% of any fees the plaintiffs' firm earned in cases where a client obtained by the lawyers acted as lead plaintiff (with a deduction for the monthly compensation). The action arose when the lawyers decided to terminate the agreement after a few months and become associated with a different plaintiffs' firm.
A few items of interest from around the web.
(1) Professor Michael Perino's paper finding that investors may have been damaged in cases where Milberg Weiss improperly compensated the lead plaintiff has some critics. Ideoblog has a comment and response with the author (here and here).
(2) Forbes has an article on "collusive settlements" in securities litigation.
(3) Bruce Carton, the founder of Securities Litigation Watch, is back with a new blog on securities litigation and enforcement. Readers of The 10b-5 Daily will want to add Unusual Activity to their favorites list.
The Wall Street Journal had an article in yesterday's edition on the JDS Uniphase securities class action trial. The article discusses how the inability to reach a settlement forced the company to risk bankruptcy by taking its chances with a jury.
Quote of note: "Marty Kaplan, JDS's chairman, says the nine-member JDS board had its 'hawks,' who wanted to push to trial, and others who preferred to settle. But he says the plaintiffs' demands far exceeded even the largest settlement the board considered, meaning there was no 'serious debate' about whether to go to trial."
Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: BRCD), a California-based data center networking and services company, has announced the preliminary settlement of the securities class action pending against the company in the N.D. of California. The case, originally filed in May 2005, stems from allegations that Brocade failed to correctly account for its stock-based compensation.
The settlement is for $160 million. The WSJ Law Blog has extensive coverage of the settlement, including relevant links.