The plaintiffs in the Enron litigation have had a tough time establishing a viable theory of liability against the bank defendants. The first setback was the Fifth Circuit’s reversal of the district court’s grant of class certification. The appellate court held that the banks had not made any actionable omissions because they “did not owe plaintiffs any duty to disclose the nature of the alleged transactions.” Later, the Supreme Court’s Stoneridge decision severely limited the scope of scheme liability by imposing a strict reliance requirement in fraud-on-the-market cases. The Court also declined to address the plaintiffs’ related appeal from the Fifth Circuit decision.
Given the enormous potential damages at stake, however, the plaintiffs were not ready to throw in the towel. In In re Enron Corp. Sec., Derivative &”ERISA” Lit., 2009 WL 565512 (S.D. Tex. March 5, 2009), the plaintiffs attempted to restructure their theory of liability against the bank defendants to avoid the impact of the two adverse decisions. The plaintiffs argued that the banks’ “Enron-related market activity in addition to the deceptive transactions” gave rise to a duty to disclose to Enron’s investors or the market as a whole. The district court disagreed. On summary judgment, the district court held (a) the “mandate rule” precluded plaintiffs from relitigating whether they had adequately demonstrated a duty of disclosure, and (b) even if they were not barred by the mandate rule, the plaintiffs had failed to establish the fiduciary relationship between the banks and the plaintiffs necessary to find a duty of disclosure.
Holding: Summary judgment motion of bank defendants granted.