As part of the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 (“SLUSA”), Congress mandated that “a court may stay discovery proceedings in any private action in state court, as necessary in aid of its jurisdiction, or to protect or effectuate its judgments, in an action subject to a stay of discovery pursuant to [the PSLRA].” One of the primary goals of this provision was to prevent plaintiffs from using a simultaneous state court action to circumvent the mandatory discovery stay imposed by the PSLRA in federal securities fraud cases. There is a growing judicial debate over when courts should exercise this power.
A court in the D. of Conn. has taken a broad view of the provision’s applicability. In a decision handed down last Friday in In re Crompton Corp. Sec. Litig., 3:03-CV-1293 (D. Conn. July 22, 2005), the court held that discovery should be stayed in a parallel state court derivative action. The defendants only needed to show “a likelihood that the federal Plaintiffs will obtain state Plaintiff’s discovery.” In this regard, the court found that a substantial portion of the federal and state complaints were identical and that the derivative plaintiff was “a putative class member in the federal action, and her receipt of discovery without a showing that it is necessary to preserve evidence or prevent undue prejudice violates the PSLRA.” The court also noted that it would be burdensome to the defendants to produce the same discovery that had been stayed, the risk of inconsistent rulings between the federal and state courts was high, and the derivative plaintiff would not be prejudiced by the stay. (The 10b-5 Daily will post an electronic cite to the decision when available.)
Holding: Motion for protective order granted.
Addition: The decision can be found electronically here – In re Crompton Corp. Sec. Litig., 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23001 (D. Conn. July 25, 2005).