Ninth Circuit Holds That Scienter May Be Established Through An Objective Evaluation Of A Defendant's Deliberate Recklessness

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In Securities & Exchange Commission v. Platforms Wireless Int’l Corp., No. 07-56542, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 15328 (9th Cir. July 27, 2010), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that under Section 10(b) of Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“1934 Act”), 15 U.S.C. § 78j(b), and Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. § 240.10b-5, a showing that a statement is so obviously misleading to a reasonable person that the defendant who made the statement must have known of its misleading nature is sufficient on summary judgment to prove defendant’s scienter. The Court held further that a defendant cannot defeat summary judgment merely by denying subjective knowledge of the risk that a statement could be misleading. This decision clarifies two points of law in the Ninth Circuit: first, that the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4 (“Reform Act”), did not alter the substantive requirement for pleading scienter for claims under Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5, and second, that deliberate recklessness, for purposes of demonstrating scienter, may be proved by an objective, not subjective, evaluation of a defendant’s mental state.

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