A Prolonged Slump for ‘Plaintiff-Pitchers’: The Narrow ‘Strike Zone’ for Securities Plaintiffs in the Fourth Circuit
83 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2010
Date Written: April 8, 2010
This article focuses on the narrow “strike zone” that plaintiffs must overcome in private securities actions instituted in the Fourth Circuit. Based on empirical data generated over a fourteen-year span, there emerges a clear finding that during that time period defendants were victorious in almost all cases, either on the merits of the case or due to procedural obstacles. The authors posit that this pattern of difficulty for plaintiffs arises, at least in part, from the Fourth Circuit’s restrictive interpretation of various requisite elements of these causes of action, such as materiality and scienter, as well as the Fourth Circuit’s approach to the pleading standards mandated by the PSLRA and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The authors examine in detail some of the leading securities cases that establish Fourth Circuit precedent in these areas, as well as notable cases from the survey period, to illustrate the confines of the narrow “strike zone” available to plaintiffs to establish a meritorious claim.
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