Third Circuit Applies Tellabs To Reject Motive and Opportunity Test In Favor Of A "Holistic Approach" To Pleading Scienter In Securities Fraud Actions

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In Institutional Investors Group v. Avaya, Inc., 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 9110 (3d Cir. April 30, 2009), a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit applied the United States Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308 (2007), for the first time to existing case law in the Third Circuit. In Tellabs, the Supreme Court held that a plaintiff who seeks to bring a claim for securities fraud under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (the “Reform Act”) must plead an inference of scienter that is “cogent and at least as compelling as any opposing inference of non-fraudulent intent.” [See blog article on Tellabs.] In Avaya, the Third Circuit held that the standard articulated in Tellabs requires courts to review scienter holistically, and not through analysis of any individual allegation of scienter, though the court did confirm that the Reform Act’s particularity requirement for pleading scienter remains a determinative factor when conducting this analysis.

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