United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
H.L. Perez-Montes United States Magistrate Judge.
class plaintiffs filed Motions to Appoint Lead Plaintiff and
Lead Counsel (Docs. 25, 26, 28, 29) in three consolidated
cases against CenturyLink and other Defendants for violations
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The State of
Oregon's motion to be appointed Lead Plaintiff (Doc. 28)
is GRANTED. The State of Oregon's motion to appoint
Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger & Grossman, L.L.P. and Stoll
Berne as Co-Lead Counsel (Doc. 28) is also
GRANTED. The remaining motions (Docs. 25, 26, 29) are DENIED.
the Court is a complaint filed pursuant to the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. § 78aa, et
seq.) by Plaintiff Benjamin Craig (“Craig”),
individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated.
The named defendants are CenturyLink Inc.
(“CenturyLink”) (its common stock is traded on
the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”)), Glen F.
Post III (“Post”) (the CEO and President of
CenturyLink Inc. at all relevant times, and R. Stewart Ewing,
Jr. (“Ewing”) (CFO, Executive Vice President, and
Assistant Secretary of CenturyLink Inc. at all relevant
alleges a federal securities class action pursuant to on
behalf of all investors who purchased or otherwise acquired
CenturyLink common stock between March 1, 2013 and June 16,
2017 (the “Class Period”). Craig alleges that
CenturyLink publicly issued materially false and misleading
statements and omitted material facts regarding its
compliance with applicable laws and regulations, causing its
stock prices to artificially inflate. Craig alleges that he
and other investors suffered significant losses and damages
when the truth as to CenturyLink's unlawful business
practices emerged and its stock prices fell. Craig seeks
certification of the class action, appointment of himself as
class representative, appointment of his attorney as lead
counsel, a jury trial, compensatory damages, costs (including
expert fees), attorney fees, and injunctive
related stockholder suits have been filed: Don J. Scott
(“Scott”) filed Scott v. CenturyLink,
No. 17-1033 (W.D. La.); Amarendra Thummeti filed Thummeti v.
CenturyLink, et al., 3:17-cv-01065 (W.D. La.); and
Michael Barbree and Glen Walker filed Barbree, et al. v.
Bejar, et al., No. 3:17-cv-01177 (W.D. La.). Barbree has
since been voluntarily dismissed (Barbree, No.
3:17-cv-01177, Doc. 3). Thus, to date, there are three
stockholder actions against CenturyLink in the Western
District of Louisiana.
Thummetti case was filed first, on June 21, 2017.
Attorney Jeremy Alan Lieberman of the Pomerantz Law Firm
published a notice of the proposed class action in the Globe
Newswire on June 21, 2017 (See Craig, No. 17-1005,
Motions to Appoint Lead Plaintiff have been filed by
potential class plaintiffs in the Craig case: KBC
Asset Management NV (“KBC”) (Doc. 25); the Police
and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit and the
Laborer's Pension Trust Fund-Detroit and Vicinity (Doc.
26) (“Detroit”); the State of Oregon on behalf of
the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund (Doc. 28)
(“Oregon”); and Amalgamated Bank, as Trustee for
the Long View Collective Investment Fund (Doc. 29)
(“Amalgamated Bank”). Other potential plaintiffs
are Sona Andresian (Docs. 21, 35), Mark D. Alger, Allen
Feldman, Art Kleppen, Essex Lacy, and Tae Yi (Docs. 22,
Movants' motions to appoint Lead Plaintiff are now before
the Court for disposition, and are set for hearing on October
25, 2017. Since filing those motions, Oregon and KBC filed a
Joint Motion to Continue the Motion Hearing (Doc. 75). That
motion is considered first below.
Law and Analysis
The Joint Motion to Continue the Motion Hearing is
and KBC filed a Joint Motion to Continue the Motion Hearing
(Doc. 75) which is opposed by Defendants (Doc. 77).
Joint Motion to Continue (Doc. 75) is hereby DENIED. The
joint movants seek a continuance principally because, on
October 6, 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict
Litigation (the "Panel") issued a Conditional
Transfer Order ("CTO") conditionally transferring
these securities actions to the United States District Court
for the District of Minnesota. But as correctly noted by
Defendant, the CTO is merely “an administrative act of
the Clerk which can be and will be vacated upon the showing
of good cause by any party.” In re Grain
Shipments, 319 F.Supp. 533, 534 (J.P.M.L.1970). Neither
the PSLRA nor the balance of jurisprudential authority
indicate that the CTO requires a continuance or stay of this
litigation. See Panel Rule 2.1(d); see also
e.g., Khunt v. Alibaba Grp. Holding Ltd., 102
F.Supp.3d 523, 530 (S.D.N.Y.2015); In re Duke Energy
Corp. Sec. Litig., 02 CIV.3960 JSR, 2002 WL 1933798, at
*1 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 20, 2002).
the Court further finds that a hearing is not affirmatively
required, and would not meaningfully aid in the Court's
decision regarding the competing motions to approve a lead
plaintiff. In the interest of efficiency, therefore, the
October 25, 2017 hearing is hereby CANCELED.
Oregon is appointed as Lead Plaintiff.
to 15 U.S.C. § 78u4(a)(3)(B)(ii), “[i]f more than
one action on behalf of a class asserting substantially the
same claim or claims arising under this chapter has been
filed, and any party has sought to consolidate those actions
for pretrial purposes or for trial, the court shall not make
the determination required by clause (i) until after the
decision on the motion to consolidate is rendered. As soon as
practicable after such decision is rendered, the court ...