Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Sanctions — PSLRA Mandatory Rule 11 Review Triggered by Summary Judgment on Federal Securities Claims Even If Pendent State Law Claims Dismissed without Prejudice

From Libaire v. Kaplan, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4640 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 21, 2010):

Under the PSLRA, "upon final adjudication of the action" a court is required to make specific findings regarding compliance with each requirement of Rule 11(b). See 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(c)(1). Relying upon Unite Here v. Cintas Corp., 500 F. Supp. 2d 332 (S.D.N.Y. 2007), Plaintiff and his counsel argue that because the state law claims were dismissed without prejudice, there has been no "final adjudication" as that term is used in the PSLRA. That reliance is misplaced.

The Unite court held that "while '[t]he PSLRA does not define the term final adjudication and there is little case law on its meaning as it is used in Section 78u-4(c)(1)' a plaintiff's voluntary dismissal without prejudice pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(I) does not constitute a final adjudication for the purpose of applying PSLRA Section 78u-4(c)." Id. at 337 (quoting Blaser v. Bessemer Trust Co., 2002 WL 31359015, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 21, 2002).

Black's Law Dictionary defines adjudication as "the legal process of resolving a dispute; the process of judicially deciding the case." The American Heritage Dictionary defines adjudicate as "to hear and settle (a case) by judicial procedure." To the extent that plaintiff voluntarily dismissed [its] complaint without prejudice pursuant to Rule 41 (a)(1)(I), [a] dispute has not been "resolved" and the Court has not "decided" the case. Nor has it "heard and settled" the case. By the plain meaning of the term, there has been no "adjudication" in this case, let alone adjudication that is "final."

Id. (quoting Blaser, 2002 WL 3139015, *3).

Here, there has been no "voluntary dismissal without prejudice pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a)(1)(I)." Here, the Court has "heard and settled" the case. This Court determined that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the federal securities fraud claim on statute of limitations grounds and that, as a result of the elimination of the federal claim, the state law claims should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Thus, there has been a final adjudication by this Court. See DeMarco v. Depotech Corp. , 131 F. Supp. 2d 1185 (S.D. Cal. 2001) (final adjudication within the meaning of the PSLRA occurs upon the district court's determination and final disposition of the underlying action); see generally Gurary v. NuTech Bio-Med, Inc., 190 F.3d 37 (2d Cir. 1999) (affirming dismissal of federal claims on the merits and state law claims without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction and remanding to district court to make findings required by PSLRA upon final adjudication of private action).

That this Plaintiff's state law claims were dismissed "without prejudice" does not preclude the Court's determination from constituting a "final adjudication" of the action. District courts may, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. [1367(c)], and often do, decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims when all federal law claims have been dismissed. Such dismissals are "without prejudice." Acceptance of Plaintiff's argument that the dismissal of any claim without prejudice precludes a final adjudication under the PSLRA could permit circumvention of the PSLRA's mandatory sanctions inquiry by the assertion of a state law claim.

The Court's determination granting Defendants summary judgment on the federal securities law claims and dismissing the state law claims for lack of jurisdiction constituted a "final adjudication" within the meaning of the PSLRA.

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