On February 26, 2014, the Supreme Court decided Chadbourne & Parke LLP v. Troice, 571 U.S. ___ (2014), ruling by a 7-2 vote that the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act of 1998 ("SLUSA") does not bar state-law securities class actions in which the plaintiffs allege that they purchased uncovered securities that the defendants misrepresented were backed by covered securities. The decision is the important in that the Court has held that a state-law suit pertaining to securities fraud is not precluded by SLUSA. This is signifigant because it suggests that there are some limits to the broad interpretation of SLUSA's preclusion provision that the Court has recognized in previous cases. Chadbourne should encourage more plaintiffs to pursue securities-fraud claims under state-law theories,the facts of a given case will still dictate what standard will be applied given this most recent ruling.
Chadbourne arose out of a multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme run by Allen Stanford and several of his companies. Stanford and his associates sold certificates of deposit issued by his bank and then used the money for their personal gain. Although these CDs were not covered securities under SLUSA, the defendants misrepresented that they were backed by highly marketable securities that were covered by the Act. After the plaintiffs learned of the fraud, they brought state-law class actions against alleged participants in Stanford's scheme.
The Chadbourne case shows that the hard standard that was created under SLUSA will not preclude all state-law claims and that some state-law suits pertaining to securities fraud will be permissible.