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In re Adelphia Communications Corp. Securities and Derivative Litigation

August 22, 2005


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lawrence M. McKENNA, D.J.



This action is part of a multi-district securities litigation pending before this Court. In re Adelphia Commc'ns Corp. Sec. & Derivative Litig., No. 03 MD 1529.

In the instant case, the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association ("LACERA"), which is Plaintiff in the individual action No. 03-CV-5750, and the Franklin Strategic Income Funds and other associated funds ("Franklin"), which are Plaintiffs in the individual action No. 03-CV-5751, (collectively, "Plaintiffs"), have brought this action against Defendants John J. Rigas, Timothy J. Rigas, James P. Rigas, and Michael J. Rigas, all of whom were directors and/or senior officers of Adelphia Communications Corporation ("Adelphia") at all relevant times until May 2002. (LACERA Am. Compl. ¶¶ 17-21; Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-20.) Plaintiffs have also named as defendants: outside directors of Adelphia (i.e. those directors who are not Rigases); Deloitte & Touche LLP; Banc of America Securities LLC; and Salomon Smith Barney Holdings, Inc. (LACERA Am. Compl. ¶¶ 22-30; Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 21-27.)*fn1 Plaintiffs allege against the Rigas family directors: violations of Sections 10(b), 18, and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78j, 78r, 78t(a); violations of Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. §§ 77k, 77o; allegations of common law fraud under California law; and violations of California Corporations Code §§ 1507, 25400(d), 25500, 25504, and 25504.1, all arising out of statements made by defendants regarding the financial condition of Adelphia. (LACERA Am. Compl. ¶¶ 339-581; Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 315-467.) Plaintiffs now move for partial summary judgment against John J. Rigas and Timothy J. Rigas ("Defendants" or "the Rigases") on the claims of violations of Sections 10(b) and 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, violations of Section 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, and common law fraud (LACERA Am. Compl. Counts 1, 4, 8, 13; Franklin Am. Compl. Counts 1, 3, 5, 9), based on the criminal convictions of John and Timothy Rigas, see United States v. Rigas, No. 02 CR 1236, 2004 WL 2601084, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 15, 2004) (listing judgments of conviction against John and Timothy Rigas after a jury rendered a verdict on July 8, 2004). (See also Special Verdict Form, Counts 3, 5, 8, 11-15, United States v. Rigas, No. 02 CR 1236 (S.D.N.Y. July 8, 2004).) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

LACERA is a California public pension fund providing retirement, disability, and death benefits to eligible Los Angeles County employees and their beneficiaries. (LACERA Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) The Franklin Strategic Income Fund and other associated funds are affiliated with Franklin Templeton Investments, a large private investment management firm. (Franklin Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) Between May 1998 and June 2002, Plaintiffs collectively purchased approximately $381 million in debt securities issued by Adelphia and its subsidiary Arahova Communications Corporation; Plaintiffs held those securities until March 2002 (LACERA) and June 2002 (Franklin). (LACERA Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 16; Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 14-15, 45-50.) Plaintiffs allege they made these purchases based upon false and misleading information. (LACERA Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2; Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2.) At all relevant times, John J. Rigas was the founder, President, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and a director of Adelphia; his son, Timothy J. Rigas, was the Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Accounting Officer, Treasurer, and a director of Adelphia. (Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-17.)

On March 27, 2002, Adelphia revealed that billions of dollars in off-balance sheet debt had not been disclosed in its prior filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") or related financial reports. Subsequently, Adelphia made other announcements revealing additional problems, all of which caused the trading price of Adelphia's securities to drop precipitously. (Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9, 95-149; Indictment ¶¶ 44-197, United States v. Rigas, 02 CR 1236 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 23, 2002).)

Plaintiffs allege that the Rigases made numerous false or misleading public statements concerning Adelphia's financial condition, including statements or omissions about its off-balance sheet debt, leverage, operating performance, compliance with debt covenants, and related party transactions that were included in press releases, Form 10-K, 8-K, and 10-Q filings, proxy statements, Registration Statements, and related Prospectuses. (Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 51-149.)*fn2

Plaintiffs claim they overpaid for Adelphia securities, as the securities' prices were inflated due to Defendants' failure to disclose material information; when Defendants revealed this previously undisclosed material information, the price of the securities dropped sharply, resulting in significant financial loss to Plaintiffs. (LACERA Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9; Franklin Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9.)

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York initiated a criminal action against John J. Rigas, Timothy J. Rigas, Michael J. Rigas, James R. Brown, and Michael C. Mulcahey for: (1) conspiracy to commit wire fraud, commit bank fraud, commit securities fraud, make false and misleading statements in SEC filings, and falsify company records; (2) securities violations under Section 10(b); (3) wire fraud; and (4) bank fraud -- all based on facts almost identical to those alleged in the Complaints at hand. See United States v. Rigas, 258 F. Supp. 2d 299, 301-03 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). (See also Indictment ¶¶ 198-211). After a jury trial, John and Timothy Rigas were convicted of conspiracy to: commit bank fraud, commit securities fraud, make or cause false statements to be made in SEC filings, and falsify Adelphia's records.

(Special Verdict Form, Count 1). They were also convicted of securities fraud in connection with the common stock of Adelphia. (Id., Count 2.) In addition, John and Timothy Rigas were convicted of 14 distinct counts of securities fraud in connection with specific debt securities, including the following which were purchased by Plaintiffs: Adelphia 9.875% Senior Notes due March 1, 2005; Adelphia 9.875% Senior Notes due March 1, 2007; Adelphia 8.375% Senior Notes due February 1, 2008; Adelphia 7.75% Senior Notes due January 15, 2009; Adelphia 7.875% Senior Notes due May 1, 2009; Adelphia 9.375% Senior Notes due November 15, 2009; Adelphia 10.875% Senior Notes due October 1, 2010; and Adelphia 10.25% Senior Notes due June 15, 2001. (Id., Counts 3, 5, 8, 11-15.) They were also convicted on counts of bank fraud. (Id., Counts 22-23.) The convictions were entered as final judgments on June 30, 2005.*fn3

Plaintiffs argue that this Court should grant partial summary judgment against the Rigases, based on their criminal convictions, on the Section 10(b), Section 11, Section 18, and common law fraud claims. Plaintiffs do not seek summary judgment on the issue of damages.

II. Standard

A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment should be granted only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

Once the moving party establishes a prima facie case demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party has the burden of presenting "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). The nonmoving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (citations omitted), and "may not rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation," Scotto v. Alemenas, 143 F.3d 105, 114 (2d Cir. 1998) (citations omitted). A court "must resolve all ...

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