Morgan Stanley Court Case Demonstrates Why Securities Arbitration is Often a Better Forum

Many lawyers and investors complain about securities arbitration. According to Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP Founder and Stockbroker Fraud Attorney William Shephard, however, the following Morgan Stanley case is “one of many cases filed in court which would have likely not been dismissed in securities arbitration.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York tossed out a securities class action lawsuit filed against Morgan Stanley, Morgan Stanley DW Inc. (MSDWI), Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc. (MS&Co.), the Technology Fund, the Information Fund, Morgan Stanley Investment Management Inc., Morgan Stanley Investment Advisors Inc. (MSIA), and Morgan Stanley Distributors Inc. The class action case is on behalf of investors in the Morgan Stanley Information Fund and Morgan Stanley Technology Fund over alleged improprieties in initial public offering shares allocations, as well as alleged conflicts of interest between Morgan Stanley’s research and investment banking departments.

According to the court, the investors claim they lost millions of dollars in the purchase of the funds as a result of violations of the 1933 Securities Act. The plaintiffs are also claiming that Morgan Stanley, MSDWI, and MS&Co. publicly said that they kept a “Chinese Wall” between their research and investment banking departments so there wouldn’t be any conflicts of interest when, in fact, this wall had fallen and MS & Co. was acting to benefit its investment banking departments. They also claim they were told that analyst recommendations and research were not influenced by the interests of Morgan Stanley or its affiliates.

Among the conflicts of interest, the investors are alleging that the defendants engaged in at least one of the a number of roles involving companies that with shares included among the funds’ portfolio securities for the class periods, including:

• As underwriters for certain securities.
• As investment bankers for certain companies with securities in the funds’ portfolios.
• Preparing and sending out research reports and recommendations about companies that had shares in the funds’ portfolios.
• Trying to get first-time or more underwriting and additional business from the companies that had shares in the portfolios.

The plaintiffs contend that MS & Co. factored in how much investment bank business research analysts were able to secure when determining their total compensation. This resulted in MS & Co.’s promotion of Morgan Stanley shares or those of potential clients, which then would lead to the price inflation of the companies’ shares. They also claimed that the portfolio funds had a substantial amount of Morgan-Stanley sponsored-stocks and that Morgan Stanley took part in “laddering,” which involved rewarding customers with “hot” IPO shares when they went after research tie-ins that artificially inflated an IPO stock’s aftermarket share price.

The court, however, dismissed the lawsuit saying that the plaintiffs failed to plead material omissions that Morgan Stanley should have disclosed.

Related Web Resources:
Morgan Stanley Suits Over Conflicts Tossed,, February 4, 2009
Morgan Stanley

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