Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Securities Fraud Complaint, But Rejects Reform Act Safe Harbor Defense

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In Slayton v. American Express Co., No. 08-5442, 2010 WL 1960019 (2d Cir. May 18, 2010), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a securities fraud class action against American Express Company (“Amex”) on the ground that the complaint did not plead a strong inference of defendants' scienter. While the court affirmed dismissal, it rejected Amex's argument that the alleged misrepresentation was protected by the “safe harbor” for forward-looking statements set forth in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“Reform Act”). In doing so, the Court set forth useful guidance for determining when a statement is “forward-looking” and whether cautionary warnings are sufficiently “meaningful” to trigger the protection of the statute's safe harbor.

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