Securities class actions against life sciences companies are almost always second-order problems. The first-order problem is a business or regulatory setback that, when disclosed by the company or a third party, is followed by a stock price drop. Following the decline, plaintiffs’ class-action attorneys will search the company’s previous public statements in search of inconsistencies between past positive comments and the current negative development. In most cases, plaintiffs’ attorneys will seek to show that any arguable inconsistency amounts to fraud—that is, they will claim that the earlier statement was knowingly or recklessly false or misleading. Where a company makes the challenged statement in a public offering document (that is, a registration statement or prospectus), plaintiffs need only show that the statement was materially false or misleading, not that it was made with scienter, i.e., the requisite state of mind.
11 April 2022