Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bucks County Employees Retirement Fund v. Newell Brands, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 27, 2018

BUCKS COUNTY EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT FUND, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
NEWELL BRANDS, INC., et al., Defendants. MATTHEW BARNETT, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
NEWELL BRANDS, INC., et al. Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          John Michael Vazquez, U.S.D.J..

         This matter comes before the Court by way multiple motions to appoint lead plaintiff and class counsel, in addition to motions to consolidate. D.E. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 in Civ. No 18-10878; D.E. 3, 4, 5 in Civ. No. 18-11132. The Court reviewed the submissions made in support and in opposition, and considered the motions without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b) and Local Civil Rule 78.1(b). For the reasons stated below, the motion filed by Plaintiff Hampshire County Council Pension Fund ("Hampshire"), D.E. 5 in Civ. No. 18-10878, is GRANTED. The remaining motions, D.E. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 in Civ. No. 18-10878 and D.E. 3, 4, 5 in Civ. No. 18-11132 are DENIED.

         INTRODUCTION

         On June 21, 2018, Plaintiff Bucks County Employees Retirement Fund filed a class action complaint alleging violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "1934 Act"). Bucks County alleged that Defendant Newell Brands, Inc. ("Newell Brands") and certain of its officers made false and misleading statements about Newell Brands' financial performance and that Newell Brands artificially inflated its stock price. Bucks County brought suit on behalf of all persons or entities who purchased Newell Brands common stock between February 6, 2017 and January 24, 2018. Bucks County Compl. ¶ 1, D.E. 1, No. 18-10878. On June 27, 2018, Plaintiff Matthew Barnett also filed a class action complaint that asserted the same allegations against the same Defendants. Barnett Compl. ¶ 1, No. 18-11132.

         On August 20, 2018, six separate motions were filed in the Bucks County case and three were filed in the Barnett matter; each sought to consolidate the two cases as well as appoint a lead plaintiff and class counsel. D.E. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 in Civ. No. 18-10878; D.E. 3, 4, 5 in Civ. No. 18-11132. By September 10, 2018, however, every movant except Hampshire had withdrawn its motion or filed a notice of non-opposition to Hampshire's motion. D.E. 13, 14, 16, 20, 21 in Civ. No. 18-10878; D.E. 6, 7, 11 in Civ. No. 18-11132.

         MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE

         The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act ("PSLRA") provides that "[i]f more than one action on behalf of a class asserting substantially the same claim or claims arising under this chapter has been filed," a court must decide the motion to consolidate before appointing a lead plaintiff. 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(ii). Accordingly, the Court will address this issue first.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a), cases may be consolidated if they involve "a common question of law or fact." Here, the two suits at issue rely on the same public statements and reports regarding Newell Brands' alleged material misstatements and omissions, and both cases assert claims arising out of § 10(b) (and the corresponding Rule 10b-5) and § 20(a) of the 1934 Act against the same Defendants. The two matters clearly involve common questions of law and fact, and consolidation will promote efficiency and avoid unnecessary costs or delay. See, e.g., Garcia v. Intelligroup, Inc., No. 04-4980, 2015 WL 6074922, at *2 (D.NJ. Aug. 10, 2015) (consolidating securities class actions because the cases arose from the same set of facts, and "[e]ach of the Related Actions [was] filed pursuant to various provisions of the federal securities law, and name[d] the same or similar defendants"). As a result, Hampshire's motion to consolidate is GRANTED.

         MOTION TO APPOINT LEAD PLAINTIFF

         Pursuant to the PSLRA, a court must "appoint as lead plaintiff the member or members of the purported class that the Court determines to be the most capable of adequately representing the interests of the class members." 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B). Further, courts "adopt a presumption that the most adequate plaintiff is the person or group of persons that "has the largest financial interest in the relief sought by the class; and otherwise satisfies the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." Id. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(iii). In deciding a motion to appoint a lead plaintiff, a court should limit its inquiry to the typicality and adequacy prongs of Rule 23(a), "and defer examination of the remaining requirements until the Lead Plaintiff moves for class certification." Sapir v. Averback, No. 14-7331, 2015 WL 858283, at *2 (D.NJ. Feb. 26, 2015) (citingHoxworth v. Blinder, Robinson & Co., 980 F.2d 912, 924 (3d Cir. 1992)). The presumption may be rebutted if the presumptively lead plaintiff "will not fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class; or is subject to unique defenses that render such plaintiff incapable of adequately representing the class." 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(iv).

         Hampshire is the presumptive lead Plaintiff. Hampshire allegedly lost $11, 041, 802 as a result of Defendants' material misstatements and omissions. Hampshire maintains that this is the largest known financial interest in the relief sought by the class (Hampshire's Br. at 12), and no other party has asserted that it suffered a comparable or greater loss. See D.E. 22 in Civ. No. 18-10878. Moreover, Hampshire also satisfies the requirements of Rule 23(a) based on the information currently available. Namely, Hampshire, like other members of the proposed class, seeks to recover the losses it allegedly incurred as a result of Defendants' misrepresentations and omissions. In addition, given its substantial financial losses, it is interested in vigorously pursuing the claims asserted against Defendants. See Hampshire Br. at 12-14. Consequently, Hampshire satisfies the typicality and adequacy requirements of Rule 23(a). Finally, no party has made any argument suggesting that Hampshire will not fairly and adequately protect the class interests, or that it would be subject to any unique defenses. Consequently, Hampshire's motion to be appointed lead plaintiff is GRANTED.

         MOTION TO APPOINT LEAP COUNSEL

         The PSLRA also states that "[t]he most adequate plaintiff shall, subject to the approval of court, select and retain counsel to represent the class." 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(v). In this instance, Hampshire has selected and retained Barrack, Rodos & Bacine to serve as Lead Counsel for the class. Hampshire's Br. at 15. Barrack, Rodos & Bacine has extensive experience in prosecuting complex class actions. Id. at 15-17. As a result, Hampshire's motion to appoint lead counsel is GRANTED.

         CONCLUSION ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.