Articles Posted in Securities Law

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Deloitte and Touche (Deloitte), a public accounting firm, performed a financial audit for Global Cash Access Holdings (GCA). While performing a financial audit for another client Larry Krause, a CPA employed by Deloitte, obtained an FBI intelligence bulletin containing information about alleged illegal acts committed by GCA and members of its board of directors (Appellants). Deloitte disclosed the allegations to GCA's audit committee. A subsequent investigation revealed no evidence of misconduct on the part of GCA or Appellants. The investigation, however, resulted in a significant drop in GCA's stock price. Appellants filed a complaint for defamation and tortious interference against Deloitte and Krause (collectively, Deloitte). The district court granted Deloitte's motion for summary judgment, concluding that Deloitte's communications to the audit committee were protected by a conditional privilege. The Supreme Court affirmed on different grounds, holding (1) one who is required by law to publish defamatory matter is absolutely privileged to publish it when the communication is made pursuant to a lawful process and to a qualified person; and (2) Deloitte's statement to GCA's audit committee was therefore absolutely privileged as a matter of law because Deloitte communicated information about alleged illegal acts in accordance with federal securities law. View "Cucinotta v. Deloitte & Touche, LLP" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, corporate entities and an individual that serviced and brokered loans for the acquisition and development of real property, faced a civil suit and a criminal investigation in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme. Petitioners filed a motion with the district court in their civil case to stay any depositions and written discovery that would require their employees and officers to make testimonial statements, asserting that the evidence could be used by the FBI in their criminal investigation. The district court summarily denied the motion without prejudice. Petitioners subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus or prohibition directing the district court to grant their motion to stay. The Supreme Court denied the requested relief, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that, on balance, the interests of Petitioners in a stay did not outweigh the countervailing interests involved and in therefore denying the motion to stay. View "Aspen Fin. Servs. v. Dist. Court" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Respondent Cordillera Fund, LP, purchased shares in Appellant American Ethanol for $3 per share. In 2007, shareholders of American Ethanol sought to merge with AE Biofuels, and notified their shareholders of its intent. Respondent notified American Ethanol of its intent to dissent, and demanded payment for its shares. The merger was approved by the shareholders. When the merged company refused to pay, Respondent filed suit at the district court. Ultimately the issue for the district court to resolve involved the fair value of Respondent√Ęs shares at the time of the merger. Appellants offered respondent $0.15 per share; Respondent maintained the fair value was $3 per share. The parties went to court because neither could agree on the value. The court entered a judgment in favor of Respondent, determining that $3 per share was the fair value. On appeal, Appellants contended that the district court abused its discretion in determining the fair value of the shares. The Supreme Court concluded that appellants did not demonstrate that the district court abused its discretion, and affirmed the court√Ęs ruling in favor of Respondent.