Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed Standard Investment Chartered Inc.‘s lawsuit against the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, New York Stock Exchange Group Inc., and NASD over alleged misstatements in a proxy to obtain member approval for bylaw changes that ultimately resulted in the creation of FINRA. In a per curiam decision, the court held that self-regulatory organizations and their officers are immune from lawsuits over bylaw amendments because these are “inextricable” from the SRO’s regulatory roles.
The plaintiff, broker-dealer and former NASD member Standard Investment Chartered Inc., claims that NASD and certain officials issued material misrepresentations in the proxy statement that solicited approval of bylaw amendments so that the merger between NASD and parts of NYSE Regulation Inc. that became FINRA would take place. The broker-dealer contends that the proxy statement misrepresented that $35,000 was the most that the Internal Revenue Service had authorized NASD to pay members over the union.
Last March, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Standard Investment Chartered Inc.’s lawsuit, as well as a similar claim submitted by NASD member Benchmark Financial Services Inc. The court said that the union between the SROs was “entitled to absolute immunity” because it was part of their delegated regulatory functions. Standard Investment Chartered appealed the ruling.
Now, the Second Circuit has affirmed the district court’s ruling. The court also noted that NASD can’t change its bylaws without Securities and Exchange Commission approval.
Other defendants in the lawsuit include Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Schapiro, who was NASD’s CEO when the regulatory body merged with NYSE, Pershing LLC Chairman Richard Brueckner, and FINRA senior vice president Howard Schloss.
Related Web Resources:
Appeals Court Upholds Lower Court Ruling on Finra Damage Suits, Bloomberg, February 23, 2011
Court Finds SROs Immune From Lawsuit Over Bylaw Changes to Effect FINRA Creation, BNA – Securities Law Daily, February 23, 2011
Standard Investment Chartered Inc. v. NASD