This month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision granting class action plaintiffs another opportunity to make their securities fraud claims against Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. The district court had previously dismissed the class action lawsuit as untimely under the 1934 Securities Exchange Act.
That court had found that based on all media reports, regulatory filings, and information about several lawsuits available, the plaintiffs could have and should have filed their securities fraud lawsuit before the two-year statute of limitations had run out on July 25, 2001. Instead, the plaintiffs filed their complaint more than one year after the deadline had passed.
The securities fraud lawsuit, filed by Steve Staehr and a number of other plaintiffs who had acquired Hartford stock between August 6, 2003 and October 13, 2004, accuses the life and property/casualty insurer of acting fraudulently by concealing price manipulation and kickbacks involving insurers and commercial brokers. The plaintiffs also claim that because of the firm’s misrepresentations, omissions, and fraudulent concealments, they acquired Hartford stocks at artificially inflated prices. They filed their lawsuit soon after then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed a lawsuit against Marsh, Inc., a Hartford broker.
Second Circuit Judge Colleen McMahon reversed the district court’s decision saying the information the plaintiffs had was not enough to place them on notice by July 2001 that Hartford was likely going to be investigated for “contingent” commissions. The appeals court also noted that Spitzer’s lawsuit connected Hartford to Marsh’s activities and that in 2003, Hartford revealed it paid brokers $145 million in kickbacks.
Related Web Resources:
Securities Fraud Class Action Lawsuit Against Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. is Reinstated in Appeals Court, Reuters, November 17, 2008
N.Y. Attorney General Spitzer Sues Marsh Over Contingent Commissions, Insurance Journal, October 25, 2004 Continue reading