The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge
The above-captioned cases are actions for securities fraud brought on
behalf of shareholders of LaBranche & Co., Inc. ("LaBranche"),
seeking damages for violations of Section 10(b) and Section 20(a) of the
Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act"), as amended,
15 U.S.C. § 78t(a) and 78j(b), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder.
17 C.F.R. § 240.10b-5.
Two groups of investors who have sustained losses as a result of their
investment in LaBranche have moved for consolidation of the related cases
and for appointment as lead plaintiffs of a proposed class of persons or
entities who purchased or acquired the securities of LaBranche between
August 19, 1999 and October 15, 2003 (the "Class Period."). In addition,
each proposed lead plaintiff has requested its choice of lead counsel in
The first group, consisting of investors Anthony Johnson, Clyde Farmer,
Edwin Walthall, Donald Stahl and City of Harper Woods Retirement System
(collectively, the "Harper Woods Group") have lost approximately
$52,099.78 in connection with their purchases of LaBranche securities
during the Class Period. The second group, consisting of Joseph C.
Eckrich as Custodian for Alexander and Estelle Eckrich, Dorothy J.
Johnson, G. Ronald Stallings, Alien Routzahn, Betty M. Mickey, and Merl
Williams (collectively, the
"Williams Group") have lost approximately $27,176.90 in connection
with their purchases of LaBranche securities during the Class Period.
For the reasons set forth below, each of the related actions are
consolidated, the motion for appointment of the Harper Woods Group is
granted, the motion for appointment of the Williams Group is denied, and
the Harper Woods Group's choice of lead counsel is approved.
The first of the above-captioned actions was commenced on or about
October 16, 2003. Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(A)-(I), on
October 16, 2003, the first notice that a class action had been initiated
against defendants was published over the PR Newswire. See
In re Party City Securities Litigation, 189 F.R.D. 91, 105 (D.N.J.
1999) (holding that the notification requirement had been met by the
publication of "the notice of pendency of the instant action in a
widely-circulated national business-oriented wire service, the PR
Newswire."). The notice indicated that applications for appointment
as lead plaintiff were to be made no later than December 15, 2003.
The Harper Woods Group and the Williams Group both filed motions to be
appointed as lead plaintiffs on December 15, 2003.
After submission of briefs, the motion was argued on February 11,
2004, at which time it was deemed fully submitted.
The Related Cases Are Consolidated
Both groups of plaintiffs have requested consolidation. Each of the
above-captioned actions involves class action claims on behalf of class
members who purchased or otherwise acquired LaBranche securities during
the Class Period. Each of the actions asserts essentially similar and
overlapping claims brought on behalf of purchasers of LaBranche
securities who purchased in reliance of the materially false and
misleading statements and omissions at all relevant times. Consolidation
is appropriate when, as here, there are actions involving common
questions of law or fact. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a); Johnson
v. Celotex Corp., 899 F.2d 1281, 1284 (2d Cir.), cert.
denied, 498 U.S. 920 (1990). Accordingly, the cases are hereby
consolidated under the caption In re LaBranche Securities
The Harper Woods Group is Appointed as Lead Plaintiffs
The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act ("PSLRA") sets forth a
procedure governing the appointment of a lead plaintiff or plaintiffs in
"each action arising under the [Exchange Act] that is brought as a
plaintiff class action pursuant to the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(1) and
First, the plaintiff who files the initial action must, within 20 days
of filing the action, publish a notice to the class informing class
members of their right to file a motion for appointment as lead
plaintiff. 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4 (a)(3)(A)(I). As indicated above,
plaintiff in the first-filed action filed a notice in PR
Newswire, which is deemed to satisfy the notice requirement.
Within 60 days after publication of the required notice, any member or
members of the proposed class may apply to the Court to be appointed as