Congressional Proposal Would Give the Green Light to F-cubed Lawsuits

In re Vivendi Universal, S.A. Securities Litigation highlights the potential for big payouts in so-called F-cubed cases, where foreign shareholders sue in U.S. courts regarding foreign shares purchased on foreign exchanges. In late January 2010, a federal court jury in New York ruled that misstatements or omissions inflated Vivendi's stock price by as much as $11, leaving the company on the hook for up to $9.3 billion in potential damages in what could be the largest securities class action award ever.

Whether such cases should be heard in U.S. courts is the subject of a pending Supreme Court case, Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., and also of proposed Congressional action.

On Dec, 11, 2009, the House of Representatives approved "The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009," that if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, would provide sweeping new oversight of the financial sector.

Section 7216 of the bill would amend securities laws to clarify that federal courts have jurisdiction over securities cases where violations involved "conduct within the United States...even if the securities transaction occurs outside" or "conduct occurring outside the United States that has a foreseeable substantial effect within the United States."

"In a more global economy, many members of Congress are recognizing the need to address how international corporate fraud affects the U.S.," says Rebecca Katz, a partner at Bernstein Liebhard.

Eriq Gardner

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