There is little doubt that Judge Pollack’s decision in the Merrill Lynch research class actions is destined to be widely cited by securities litigation defendants — it certainly has caused attorneys to give more consideration to loss causation as a defense. Exhibit A: Qwest Communications International, Inc.
The Rocky Mountain News reported over the weekend that Qwest has filed a motion to dismiss the securities class action against the company citing the Merrill Lynch decision and arguing that plaintiffs have not adequately alleged that the supposed misconduct, rather than a general market decline, caused their losses. Predictably (especially if you regularly read The 10b-5 Daily), plaintiffs have responded that the Merrill Lynch case isn’t relevant, in part, because none of the plaintiffs in that case bought their stock from Merrill Lynch. The Qwest suit is before the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Quote of note: “In its court brief, Qwest cited the Merrill Lynch decision this summer. The class-action claim was dismissed, Qwest said, because the plaintiffs didn’t adequately prove that the conduct of the analysts, rather than a general market decline, caused their losses. Qwest attorneys argue that Qwest’s stock price too ‘generally rose and fell’ in a pattern corresponding to the broader Nasdaq telecommunications index.”