Following murmurs about pay-to-play, South Carolina has turned down offers from local powerhouse Motley Rice and from Labaton Sucharow, whose attorneys had donated $12,000 to Attorney General Alan Wilson. [The State]
“For the second time in less than a week, class action law firm Labaton Sucharow has been reprimanded for overreaching in its attempts to lead a major securities fraud action.” Having attained lead counsel status in one class action against American International Group, the firm sought to combine that case with others pending elsewhere that raised quite different claims against the much-sued insurer.
“As is readily apparent here, lead plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to Amend to add unrelated claims is a calculated attempt at judge shopping,” [Southern District of New York federal judge John] Sprizzo wrote. “It seems apparent that lead plaintiff is trying to usurp lead plaintiff status over claims which are properly in front of other judges.”
The decision came just three days after Southern District of New York Judge Jed S. Rakoff admonished Labaton Sucharow attorneys for perhaps not “fulfill[ing] their professional responsibilities” in their proposal of a co-lead plaintiff in In Re Monster Worldwide Securities Litigation, 07 Civ. 2237.
(Mark Fass, “Labaton’s Newest Bid to Lead Major Securities Fraud Action Rejected”, New York Law Journal, Jul. 22).
Class actions of the lawyers, by the lawyers, for the lawyers? To quote the Law.com summary: “A federal judge has rejected a proposed co-lead plaintiff for the Monster Worldwide securities fraud class action because the representative knew nothing about the case. Southern District of New York Judge Jed Rakoff had some pointed words for lead plaintiffs counsel Labaton Sucharow, saying the Steamship Trade Association International Longshoremen’s Pension Fund was ‘simply the willing pawn of counsel’ because it ‘has no interest in, genuine knowledge of, and/or meaningful involvement in this case.'” Judge Rakoff noted that pension fund co-chairman Horace Alston had represented himself under oath as the fund’s most knowledgeable person about the suit. “However, Mr. Alston then testified that he did not know the name of the stock at issue in this case, did not know the name of either individual defendant, did not know whether STA-ILA ever owned Monster stock, did not know if an amended complaint had been filed, did not know whether he had ever seen any complaint in the action,” leading Judge Rakoff to declare that he would “not be party to a sham.” (Mark Hamblett, “Lead Plaintiff Pick Rejected as Merely ‘Pawn of Counsel'”, New York Law Journal, Jul. 17).