The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in Goldman Sachs Group v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.
In this class action suit, Arkansas’ largest retirement fund and other shareholders claim to have lost more than $13 billion between 2007 and 2010, due to false statements in the bank’s regulatory filings and public comments. They allege the bank overstated its ability to manage conflicts of interest. This securities class action relies on the “fraud-on-the-market” theory, which was validated in the 1988 Supreme Court decision, Basic Inc. v. Levinson.
The US District Court for the Southern District of New York certified the fund’s class action in 2015, which was reversed and then reinstated by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. On Monday, Goldman Sachs argued before the Supreme Court that the plaintiffs misled the Second Circuit on questions of law.
Counsel for Goldman Sachs argued before the Supreme Court that more general statements, such as the “exceptionally generic” statements made by the bank, are not likely to impact securities prices. Goldman Sachs stated multiple times this is an “easy” case, and the court should simply reverse the class action certification. The bank sought to rebut the presumption of class-wide reliance on these statements due to the generic nature of these statements, setting aside their substantive materiality. The bank also argued the plaintiffs in this suit need to make a “more compelling showing” that the statements in question had a direct impact on share prices, thus placing the ultimate burden of persuasion on the plaintiffs.