Justia Class Action Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Corporate Compliance
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Plaintiffs appealed from judgments dismissing their class-action complaints seeking to hold defendants (collectively, "Rating Agencies") liable as underwriters or control persons for misstatements or omissions in securities offering documents in violation of sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933 ("1933 Act"), 15 U.S.C. 77k(a)(5), 77o(a). At issue was whether the Rating Agencies were "underwriters" as defined by 15 U.S.C. 77b(a)(11) because they helped structure securities transactions to achieve desired ratings. Also at issue was whether the Rating Agencies were "control persons" because of their alleged provision of advice and direction to primary violators regarding transaction structures under section 77o(a) of the 1933 Act. The court held that plaintiffs' section 11 claims that the Rating Agencies were "underwriters" was properly dismissed because the Rating Agencies' alleged structuring or creation of securities was insufficient to demonstrate their involvement in the requisite distributional activities. The court also held that plaintiffs' "control person" claims under section 77o(a) were properly dismissed because the Rating Agencies' provision of advice and guidance regarding transaction structures was insufficient to permit an inference that they had the power to direct the management or policies of alleged primary violators of section 11. The court further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying implicitly plaintiffs' cursory requests for leave to amend.