The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, District Judge
Hallisey & Johnson Profit Sharing Plan and Hallisey & Johnson Money Purchase Pension Trust ("Hallisey") have moved for relief from a July 26, 2004 Order dismissing their lawsuit as part of the In re Salomon Analyst WorldCom Litigation ("Salomon Analyst WorldCom"). Hallisey, a member of the class certified in 2003 for purchasers of the securities of WorldCom, Inc. ("WorldCom") who opted out of that class action ("WorldCom Class Action"), seeks by this motion practice to revive a separate putative class action against Salomon Smith Barney ("SSB") and Jack Grubman ("SSB Defendants"). Hallisey was not appointed lead plaintiff in that latter action, and the action was dismissed in connection with the settlement of the WorldCom Class Action. Hallisey's motion to vacate dismissal of its putative class action is denied.
The background to this motion practice requires a description of the WorldCom Securities Litigation as well as Salomon Analyst WorldCom.*fn1 On June 25, 2002, WorldCom announced a massive restatement of its financials. Shortly thereafter it filed for bankruptcy. Beginning on April 30, 2002, even before WorldCom announced its financial restatement, class action litigation had been filed in the Southern District of New York alleging that WorldCom and those associated with it had violated federal securities laws. That litigation was assigned to this Court. In the months following WorldCom's restatement, multiple lawsuits were filed alleging violations of both federal and state laws. Those actions filed in state courts were removed as "related to" WorldCom's bankruptcy. Actions outside this district were then transferred to this Court by the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation ("MDL Panel").
Consolidation of WorldCom Class Action
This Court consolidated all class actions into the WorldCom Class Action by Order dated August 15, 2002. A consolidated amended class action complaint was filed on October 11, 2002, on behalf of "all person and entities who purchased or otherwise acquired publicly traded securities of WorldCom, Inc. during the period beginning April 29, 1999 through and including June 25, 2002." The defendants included WorldCom officers and directors, underwriters of WorldCom bond offerings, and the Citigroup Defendants, that is the SSB defendants and SSB's corporate parent Citigroup, Inc. The Citigroup Defendants were named in a Section 10(b) securities fraud claim based on inter alia Jack Grubman's conflict of interest in his role as a lead telecommunications analyst at SSB.
By Order dated December 23, 2002, the Court determined that all individual actions ("Individual Actions") and the WorldCom Class Action involved common questions of law and fact and that they should be consolidated for pretrial purposes. See In re WorldCom, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 02 Civ. 3288(DLC), 2002 WL 31867720 at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 23, 2002). The consolidated WorldCom securities litigation is referred to as the Securities Litigation.
Consolidation of In re Salomon Analyst Litigation
Hallisey filed its complaint on July 2, 2002 ("Hallisey Action"). The complaint was styled as a class action and was brought on behalf of "investors in [WorldCom] who purchased WorldCom common stock during the period July 1, 1999 through April 22, 2002." It also sought to recover under federal securities law for damages caused by Jack Grubman's conflict of interest in his role as a lead telecommunications analyst at SSB. On July 12, 2002, Hallisey filed a motion seeking to be appointed Lead Plaintiff in all related cases.
The Hallisey Action was initially assigned to the Honorable Lewis Kaplan. On August 16, 2002, it was consolidated with fourteen other actions as In re Salomon Analyst Litigation. What these actions had in common was the identity of the defendants: each named one or more of the Citigroup Defendants. The actions were brought, however, on behalf of investors in a variety of securities.
On November 14, 2002, In re Salomon Analyst Litigation was reassigned to the Honorable Barbara Jones. On January 24, 2003, Judge Jones issued a case management order ("January 2003 Order") consolidating the actions that had been consolidated by Judge Kaplan with approximately sixty-five other actions brought against the Citigroup Defendants. The January 2003 Order noted that all of the actions being consolidated involved "allegations relating to analyst research reports" and that the actions asserted claims on behalf of shareholders of nine issuers. The new action continued to be called In re Salomon Analyst Litigation but also further consolidated the approximately eighty actions under nine separate lead actions based on nine different issuers of stock. The Hallisey action was made part of Salomon Analyst WorldCom, which consolidated seventeen actions for all purposes "on behalf of purchasers of the common stock of WorldCom, Inc."
Appointment of NYSCRF as Lead Plaintiff
On February 4, 2003, the In re Salomon Analyst Litigation was reassigned to the Honorable Gerard Lynch. On March 20, 2003, Judge Lynch issued a second case management order ("March 2003 Order"). The March 2003 Order designated a Lead Plaintiff in each of the nine Salomon Analyst actions, and rejected all unsuccessful pending motions for appointment as Lead Plaintiff, including Hallisey's. The New York State Common Retirement Fund ("NYSCRF") was named the Lead Plaintiff in Salomon Analyst WorldCom. The same order also appointed Lead Counsel in each of the actions; Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman, L.L.P. ("Bernstein Litowitz") was appointed Lead Counsel in Salomon Analyst WorldCom.
With the March 2003 Order, control of the fate of the WorldCom Class Action and Salomon Analyst WorldCom rested in the hands of a single Lead Plaintiff and its counsel, and Hallisey became simply a class member. NYSCRF and Bernstein Litowitz had been chosen and appointed as Lead ...