Ninth Circuit Declines Application Of Loss Causation Principles In Dura Pharmaceuticals In Connection With Criminal Securities Fraud

In United States v. Berger, No. 08-50171, 2009 WL 4141478 (9th Cir. Nov. 30, 2009), a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to apply loss causation principles in civil securities fraud litigation established by the United States Supreme Court in Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo, 544 U.S. 336, 342-48 (2005), in connection with the sentencing of a defendant in a criminal securities fraud prosecution. Declining to follow two other circuits that had endorsed the application of Dura Pharmaceuticals to criminal sentencing, the Ninth Circuit held that the policies underlying the proper standard for pleading and proving a loss by investors in civil cases are not present in the criminal sentencing context and that applying Dura Pharmaceuticals’ civil rule to criminal sentencing would clash with Congress? endorsement of that method. Notwithstanding that the split in circuit decisions may prompt Supreme Court review, this decision provides another instance where courts have applied policy distinctions between civil litigation and criminal/enforcement proceedings involving securities fraud.

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