Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Securities Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a securities fraud action because it was barred by the act of state doctrine. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants knowingly failed to disclose legal deficiencies under Mexican tax law in the 2012 APA Ruling and sold shares knowing these legal deficiencies existed. The panel held that plaintiffs' claims under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 would require a United States court to pass judgment on the validity of a 2012 ruling by Mexico's tax authority. In this case, the mandatory elements of applying the act of state doctrine were satisfied and the policies underlying the doctrine weighed in favor of applying it to bar plaintiffs' claims. Agreeing with its sister circuits, the panel held that the district court was not required to consider the Sabbatino factors. The panel declined to reconsider whether a tax ruling by the Mexican government, that remains valid in Mexico, complied with Mexico's tax laws. View "Royal Wulff Ventures LLC v. Primero Mining Corp." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the SEC in a civil complaint filed against defendant and his law firm, alleging securities fraud claims. The panel held that the EB-5 visa program investments in connection to defendant and his law firm constitute securities in the form of investment contracts. In this case, the private placement memoranda's (PPMs) identification of the investments as securities, the form of the investment entity as a limited partnership, and the promise of a fixed rate of return all indicate that the EB-5 transactions were securities. The panel rejected defendant's contention that the promised return was effectively nullified by the administrative fees, and his assertion that his clients nonetheless lacked an expectation of profit. The panel agreed with the district court that the uncontroverted evidence established that defendant was acting as a broker and was required to register with the SEC as a broker; defendant engaged in securities fraud in violation of section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in entering the disgorgement order. View "SEC v. Feng" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a putative class action against Northern Trust, alleging violations of state law involving breaches of fiduciary duty by a trustee. The district court determined that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (SLUSA) barred the case from proceeding in federal court. The panel held that SLUSA did not preclude plaintiffs' imprudent investment claims, because these claims did not meet the "in connection with' requirement for SLUSA preclusion. The panel also held that SLUSA did not preclude plaintiffs' fee-related claims, as well as plaintiffs' elder abuse claims and claims against NT Corp. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Banks v. Northern Trust Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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In 7 U.S.C. 13(a)(4), a provision within the Commodity Exchange Act, "willfully" must have the traditional meaning ascribed to the term in the context of criminal prohibitions against fraud: intentionally undertaking an act that one knows to be wrongful. This appeal arose from a civil enforcement action brought by the Commission against defendant, the co-founder of the Paron investment firm. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Commission and, after applying the correct meaning of "willfully," held that there were no genuine issues of material fact as to whether defendant acted willfully when he made three separate false statements to the National Futures Association (NFA) during its investigation of Paron. The panel also held that the district court properly awarded restitution. However, the court vacated in part the district court's order issuing a permanent injunction against defendant and remanded for further explanation as to certain parts of the permanent injunction. View "U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. Crombie" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the SEC on its claims that defendant violated federal securities laws. Having considered the records in the criminal and civil proceedings in light of the relevant Restatement factors, the panel held that defendant's conviction determined the identical issues the SEC was required to prove to establish defendant's liability for securities fraud. Therefore, the district court did not err in entering summary judgment based on the preclusive effect of defendant's conviction. The panel rejected defendant's arguments to the contrary, and all pending motions were denied as moot. View "Securities and Exchange Commission v. Stein" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that the general partnership interests at issue qualified as securities under federal law and that defendant violated federal securities law by selling unregistered securities and defrauding his investors. In this case, the general partnership interests at issue were stripped of the hallmarks of a general partnership and marketed as passive investments. The panel held that, in light of defendant's death during the pendency of the appeal and the executor replaced as the name party, as well as intervening Supreme Court precedent, several aspects of the district court's judgment require vacatur and remand. Therefore, the panel vacated the civil penalty order and the disgorgement order, remanding for further proceedings. View "USSEC v. Schooler" on Justia Law

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The Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA) barred a plaintiff class from bringing a covered class action based on state law claims alleging that the defendants made a misrepresentation or omission or employed any manipulative or deceptive device in connection with the purchase or sale of a covered security. The panel held, in this case, that SLUSA precluded all of Northstar's claims against Schwab and that the district court correctly dismissed them. However, the panel held that the district court erred in dismissing the claims with prejudice. View "Northstar Financial Advisors v. Schwab Investments" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, a court may take judicial notice of matters of public record without converting a motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment, but a court cannot take judicial notice of disputed facts contained in such public records. The incorporation-by-reference doctrine prevents plaintiffs from selecting only portions of documents that support their claims, while omitting portions of those very documents that weaken or doom their claims. The Ninth Circuit addressed and clarified when and how the district court should consider materials extraneous to the pleadings at the motion to dismiss stage via judicial notice and the incorporation-by-reference doctrine. In this case, plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of an action under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The panel held that the district court erred in part by judicially noticing some facts, but properly took notice of the date of Orexigen's international patent application for Contrave. Therefore, the panel reversed and remanded for clarification on Exhibit D, reversed the district court's judicial notice of Exhibit E, and affirmed the judicial notice of Exhibit V. The panel also that the district court abused its discretion by incorporating certain documents into the complaint and properly incorporated others. The panel reversed the district court's incorporation-by-reference of Exhibits B, C, F, H, R, S, and U, and affirmed the incorporation of Exhibits A, I K, L, N, O, P, and T. The panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded as to the remaining claims. View "Khoja v. Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of an action brought by purchasers of American Depository Shares (ADRs) or Receipts, alleging violations of sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act based on Toshiba Corp.'s fraudulent accounting practices. The district court held, under the test in Morrison v. Nat'l Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247 (2010), that the Exchange Act, which does not apply extraterritorially, did not apply to the purchase of Toshiba ADRs. The panel held that the Exchange Act could apply to the Toshiba ADR transactions, as domestic transactions in securities not registered on an exchange, and that Toshiba ADRs were "securities" under the Exchange Act. The panel applied the "irrevocable liability" test and held that plaintiffs must be allowed to amend their complaint to allege that the purchase of Toshiba ADRs on the over-the-counter market was a domestic purchase, and that the alleged fraud was "in connection with" the purchase. Accordingly, the panel remanded to allow plaintiffs to amend their complaint. View "Auto Industries Pension Trust Fund v. Toshiba Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action alleging that when Yahoo! invested in Alibaba.com, a Chinese retail website, Yahoo! violated the conditions of its exemption, granted by the SEC, from the registration requirements of the Investment Company Act (ICA). Plaintiff brought derivative claims against Yahoo!'s board of directors and certain corporate officers, as well as one direct claim against Yahoo!, under the ICA. The panel held that plaintiff failed to state a claim because the ICA does not establish a private right of action for challenging the continued validity of an ICA exemption. View "UFCW Local 1500 Pension Fund v. Mayer" on Justia Law