The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard J. Holwell, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The Direxion Shares ETF Trust ("Direxion") is an investment management company that is comprised of a number of separate series or funds. Presently before the Court are five related securities actions brought against Direxion, certain of its directors and officers, and its investment advisor, Rafferty Asset Management, LLC (collectively, "Defendants"), arising from plaintiffs' investments in certain inverse and leveraged exchange-traded funds ("ETFs") offered by Direxion. These actions relate to two separate ETFs sold by Defendants: the Financial Bear 3X Shares Fund ("FAZ Fund") and the Energy Bear 3X Shares Fund ("ERY Fund"). Both ETFs seek to provide daily investment returns that correspond to the performance of a particular index or benchmark-the Russell 1000 Financial Services Index in the case of the FAZ Fund, and the Russell 1000 Energy Services Index in the case of the ERY Fund. Both ETFs, as well as a number of other funds sold by Defendants, are described in a single registration statement, prospectus, and statement of additional information (collectively, the "Registration Statement").
The first of the five related actions currently pending before this Court was filed on September 11, 2009 under the caption Stoopler v. Direxion Shares ETF Trust et al., No. 09-cv-8011-RJH (the "Stoopler action"). The complaint in the Stoopler action alleged that Defendants violated Sections 11 and 15 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1933 by making false and misleading statements in connection with their sales of the FAZ Fund between November 3, 2008 to April 9, 2009 (the "Class Period"). On September 18, 2009, Federman & Sherwood LLP ("Federman & Sherwood"), counsel in the Stoopler action, caused a notice to be published on Marketwise advising those who purchased the FAZ Fund during the Class Period of their right to move for appointment as lead plaintiff within 60 days. Thereafter, two other actions were filed relating to the FAZ Fund, bearing case numbers 09cv08375 and 09cv08459. On November 17, 2009, four parties moved to be appointed as lead plaintiff and for consolidation of the three FAZ Fund actions.
On January 13, 2010, Howard Schwack and William Lee each filed separate actions against the same Defendants, bearing case numbers 10cv00271 and 10cv00273, relating to the ERY Fund. Schwack, whose action was filed first, caused notice to be filed over Businesswire alerting putative class members who had purchased shares of the ERY Fund of their right to move for appointment as lead plaintiff within 60 days. Thereafter, the Court received timely motions for consolidation and for appointment of lead plaintiff from Schwack and Lee.
On April 1, Defendants moved to consolidate the three FAZ Fund actions and the two ERY Fund actions into a single action. They argued that although these five actions relate to two different funds, the allegations in all five complaints are substantially similar in that the allegedly misleading statements about both funds are almost identical and are found in the same Registration Statement. Defendants do not object to the appointment of separate lead plaintiffs to represent holders of the FAZ Fund and the ERY Fund, respectively. This Opinion sets forth the Court's rulings on the pending motions for consolidation and appointment of lead plaintiff.
Rule 42(a) provides that a court may order actions consolidated if they involve "common issues of law or fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a). In determining the propriety of consolidation, district courts have "broad discretion," and generally favor the view that "considerations of judicial economy favor consolidation." Ferrar v. Impath, Inc., 2004 WL 1637053, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 2004) (citations and quotations omitted). "[C]onsolidation is particularly appropriate in the context of securities class actions if the complaints are based on the same public statements and reports and defendants will not be prejudiced." Weiss v. Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, Inc. et al, 2006 WL 197036, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 25, 2006).
In the instant case, the complaints in all five actions currently before the Court contain similar assertions of fact and allege violations of the same sections of the Securities Exchange Act of 1933. Plaintiffs in both sets of actions contend that Defendants made material misrepresentations in the Registration Statement regarding the nature of the FAZ Fund and the ERY Fund, respectively. Although two different funds are at issue, both funds in question are described in the same Registration Statement. In all five actions, plaintiffs contend that while the fund in question was supposed to deliver triple the inverse return of the respective index to which it was tied, the fund was defective since it did not actually track the benchmark it was designed to track. In all five actions, plaintiffs also contend that the fund is more properly viewed as a day trading vehicle, but that Defendants failed to market the fund as such and failed to warn purchasers that holding the fund's shares for longer periods of time would almost certainly lead to large losses. On this basis, the Court finds that all five actions involve "common issues of law and fact." The Court is not convinced that plaintiffs would suffer undue prejudice from consolidating the FAZ Fund actions with the ERY Fund actions. Because the Court finds that the interests of judicial economy would be well-served by consolidation, the Court hereby consolidates the five above-captioned actions into one action ("the Consolidated Action").*fn1 In the event any future related actions are assigned to this Court, the Court shall-if appropriate, and upon due consideration of the Rule 42(a) factors-enter an order consolidating such actions into the Consolidated Action.
II. Appointment of Lead Plaintiff
A. The Notice and Filing Requirements of the PSLRA
The PSLRA requires the plaintiff in the first-filed action to cause a notice to be published in a national, business-oriented publication within 20 days of filing the complaint. 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(A)(i). The notice must inform members of the purported class of (1) the details and pendency of the action; and (2) their right to seek appointment as lead plaintiff within 60 days after the date on which notice is published. Id. In the instant case, counsel in the Stoopler action published notice in Marketwise on September 18, 2009 informing all shareholders of the FAZ Fund of the details and pendency of the action and their right to seek appointment as lead plaintiff. Counsel in the Schwack action caused notice to be published over Businesswire on January 13, 2010, informing holders of the ERY Fund of the same. These notices satisfied the requirements of the PSLRA.
In response to the notices published by Stoopler and Schwack, four sets of parties moved to be appointed as lead plaintiff to represent holders of the FAZ Fund, and two parties moved to be appointed as lead plaintiff to represent holders of the ERY Fund. All parties who have appeared before the Court appear to agree that separate lead plaintiffs should be appointed to represent holders of the FAZ Fund and the ERY Fund, respectively. Accordingly, the Court ...