Last month the AARP and the Northern American Securities Administrators, Inc. (NASAA) joined forces to file an Amicus Brief in the United States Supreme Court in Janus Capital Group, et al v. First Derivative Traders. At issue was the extent to which a person or entity must be involved in drafting false statements in order to be exposed to potential §10(b) liability. According to the Amici, the mutual fund advisers should fall within the reach of §10(b) liability because the fund's advisers were the primary actors relative to the false statements made within the prospectuses for the mutual fund.
Plaintiff's are mutual fund investors in Janus Funds. Janus Management stands accused of engaging in secret market timing deals to the detriment of the Janus Fund investors. On appeal, Janus Management argues that the Court should apply a “Direct Attribution” standard. AARP and NASAA argue that the application of this restrictive standard would allow the fund advisers to dodge liability and shift it to the Fund's innocent shareholders by simply keeping their name off the prospectus. Seems like a fairly compelling argument.
Perhaps the most interesting angle on the Brief, and the issue on appeal, is NASAA's argument that §10(b) must be afforded an expansive application and interpretation in light of the absence of an alternative state court remedy. But its primary basis for this argument is not the absence of a remedy, but the absence of a procedure – class actions. Indeed, the 1998 Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (“SLUSA”) imposed heavy restrictions upon the utilization of class litigation in the state courts. The Amici noted as somewhat of an after-thought the absence of a remedy as well, due to the absence of a state common law fraud-on-the-market cause of action.