Even tobacco companies are entitled to the free speech protections of the First Amendment.
On Thursday, a firm called Brower Piven filed a Manhattan federal court securities-fraud class action against Jon Corzine and three other officials of the bankrupt brokerage MF Global. The complaint, as Jon Stempel reported for Reuters, claims that beginning in May, the MF execs deliberately misled shareholders about the brokerage’s leverage and risk-management controls. It’s really a placeholder: the plaintiff is one individual investor, and the suit asserts a single count of securities fraud based only on public MF Global regulatory filings, press releases, “and other information readily obtainable on the Internet.”
On Thursday, the Buffalo federal court judge overseeing Paul Ceglia’s claim to own half of Facebook — by virtue of a 2003 contract he claims CEO Mark Zuckerberg signed as a Harvard undergraduate — is expected to enter an order directing Ceglia to return from Ireland to produce crucial undisclosed computer evidence, and to answer Facebook’s withering questions about the authenticity of the contract and his own failures to comply with previous court directives.
Irving Picard has given the bankruptcy laws one hell of a workout. As trustee in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of Bernard Madoff’s securities firm, Picard, a partner at Baker & Hostetler, has been more aggressive and creative than any bankruptcy trustee in history in his search for defendants to blame for Madoff’s epic Ponzi scheme. His most ambitious gambit, as everyone knows, was a series of megabillion-dollar suits against the international financial institutions that Picard’s team of lawyers at Baker & Hostetler accused of willfully ignoring warnings of Madoff’s fraud.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the lawyers who filed Bank of America’s proposed $8.5 billion settlement with Countrywide mortgage-backed securities investors. On Oct. 19, as you doubtless recall, U.S. District Judge William Pauley III of Manhattan federal court ruled that the proposed settlement should be evaluated in federal court as a mass action under the Class Action Fairness Act, and not in New York State Supreme Court, where the case was filed back in June. Yesterday Bank of New York Mellon (the Countrywide MBS trustee) and the investor group that negotiated the $8.5 billion deal with BofA responded to Pauley’s ruling. In appellate briefs by Mayer Brown and Dechert (for BNY Mellon) and by Gibbs & Bruns (for the institutional investor group), the settlement’s supporters asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to step in and right Pauley’s wrongs.