Securities Class Actions

First Circuit Affirms Tough Standard for Alleging Securities Fraud; Revives One Claim Against Local Drug Maker

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On November 28, 2016, the First Circuit upheld the dismissal of all but one of the class action securities fraud claims against Cambridge, MA drug company, ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc., reaffirming the exacting pleading standards that enable defendants to put an early end to reflexive stock-drop lawsuits.  In doing so, the First Circuit also adopted strict requirements for asserting claims that defendants misled investors in a common stock offering.

In In re ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Securities Litigation, shareholder plaintiffs appealed the District of Massachusetts’ dismissal of the federal securities fraud claims against ARIAD based on optimistic statements the company’s executives made about the prospects of ARIAD’s experimental leukemia drug, ponatinib, which ultimately did not fare so well in FDA trials.  The First Circuit largely affirmed the district court’s dismissal, holding that the complaint failed to raise a compelling inference that the company’s executives acted with scienter—or intent to defraud.  The appellate court did, however, revive a claim related to “one particular alleged