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Ali v. Intel Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. California

May 29, 2018

Meerain Ali, Plaintiff,
v.
Intel Corporation, et al., Defendants. Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund, Plaintiff,
v.
Intel Corporation, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER CONSOLIDATING CASES, APPOINTING LEAD PLAINTIFF, AND APPROVING SELECTION OF LEAD COUNSEL RE: DKT. NO. 10

          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Now before the Court is movant Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund's (“Louisiana Sheriffs”) motion to consolidate related cases Meerain Ali v. Intel Corporation, et al., 18-cv-00507-YGR (“Ali”), and Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund v. Intel Corporation, et al., 18-cv-01460-YGR (“Louisiana Sheriffs”) (together, the “Related Actions”), for appointment of lead plaintiff, and for approval of selection of lead counsel.[1] (Dkt. No. 10 (“Motion”).) Intel Corporation (“Intel”) investors Meerain Ali and Daniel E. Tavares (together, the “Individual Investor Group”) oppose the motion with respect to appointment of lead plaintiff and approval of lead counsel, but do not dispute that consolidation is warranted.[2] For the reasons set forth below, Louisiana Sheriffs' motion is Granted.[3]

         I. CONSOLIDATION

         Pursuant to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “PSLRA”), the Court must decide whether to consolidate the Related Actions prior to selecting a lead plaintiff. See 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(ii). Federal courts have “broad discretion . . . to consolidate cases pending in the same district.” Inv'rs Research Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court for Cent. Dist. of Cal., 877 F.2d 777, 777 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a)(2) (noting that a district court “may” consolidate actions if they “involve a common question of law or fact”). Further, the PSLRA contemplates consolidation where “more than one action on behalf of a class asserting substantially the same claim or claims . . . has been filed . . . .” 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(ii).

         The Court concludes that consolidation is warranted here. Ali and Louisiana Sheriffs bring claims against substantially similar defendants, and both allege violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, based upon the same types of misstatements by Intel and certain of its senior officers regarding the security and performance of Intel's processors. (Compare Ali Compl., Dkt. No. 1, with Louisiana Sheriffs Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) Though the class period in the two actions have different start dates-July 27, 2017 for Ali and October 27, 2017 for Louisiana Sheriffs-both class periods end on January 4, 2018, and both putative classes involve, at a minimum, all persons who purchased Intel stocks during the relevant class periods. The Related Actions thus present questions of law and fact that overlap almost completely.[4]

         Accordingly, the Related Actions should be consolidated.

         II. APPOINTMENT OF LEAD PLAINTIFF

         The PSLRA instructs district courts “to select as lead plaintiff the one ‘most capable of adequately representing the interests of class members.'” In re Cavanaugh, 306 F.3d 726, 729 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting 15 U.S.C. § 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(i)). And the “most capable” plaintiff is generally “the one who has the greatest financial stake in the outcome of the case, so long as he meets the requirements of [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 23.” Id. “In other words, the district court must compare the financial stake of the various plaintiffs and determine which one has the most to gain from the lawsuit. It must then focus its attention on that plaintiff and determine, based on the information [it] has provided in [its] pleadings and declarations, whether [it] satisfies the requirements of Rule 23(a), in particular those of ‘typicality' and ‘adequacy.'” Id. at 730.

         Louisiana Sheriffs and the Individual Investor Group each contends that it is the most appropriate lead plaintiff.[5] To discern whether the different class periods impacted the analysis of who should be named lead plaintiff, the Court ordered additional briefing and considers the same here. (See Dkt. No. 32.) In that regard, Louisiana Sheriffs' submitted declaration certifies that it suffered losses of approximately $67, 658 on its investments in Intel stock during the period of July 27, 2017 through January 4, 2018 on both a last-in, first-out (“LIFO”) and a first-in, first-out (“FIFO”) basis.[6] (See Dkt. No. 37-1 ¶ 3.) The Individual Investor Group's asserted loss is $1, 232. (See Opposition at 2, 6.) Thus, Louisiana Sheriffs' financial interest in the litigation is multiples greater than that of the Individual Investor Group.[7] The Court also notes that Louisiana Sheriffs maintains that the shorter class period is the appropriate period for the consolidated action. The Court need not resolve that issue at this juncture other than to ensure that it appoints the appropriate lead plaintiff.

         Next, for present purposes, Louisiana Sheriffs appears to have made a prima facie showing of typicality and adequacy under Rule 23(a). The typicality requirement is readily satisfied as Louisiana Sheriffs' claims arise out of the same events and are based on the same legal theories as the claims of other class members. See Hanlon v. Chrysler Corp., 150 F.3d 1011, 1020 (9th Cir. 1998) (“[R]epresentative claims are ‘typical' if they are reasonably co-extensive with those of absent class members; they need not be substantially identical.”). The Court is similarly satisfied that Louisiana Sheriffs will adequately represent the interests of class members because, based on the Firm resume of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP (“Bernstein Litowitz”) (see Dkt. No. 10-7), Louisiana Sheriffs' attorneys appear competent, there is no suggestion of any antagonistic interests or collusive action, and, as the plaintiff with the highest financial interest, Louisiana Sheriffs has a strong incentive to pursue vigorously a substantial recovery for all putative class members.[8] See Takeda v. Turbodyne Techs., Inc., 67 F.Supp.2d 1129, 1135 (C.D. Cal. 1999) (“The Ninth Circuit has held that representation is ‘adequate' when counsel for the class is qualified and competent, the representative's interests are not antagonistic to the interests of absent class members, and it is unlikely that the action is collusive.”) (citing in re N. Dist. of Cal., Dalkon Shield IUD Prods. Liab. Litig., 693 F.2d 847, 855 (9th Cir. 1982)).

         Accordingly, the Court finds that Louisiana Sheriffs is the appropriate lead plaintiff.

         III. APPROVAL OF SELECTION OF LEAD COUNSEL

         Section 78u-4(a)(3)(B)(v) provides: “The most adequate plaintiff shall, subject to the approval of the court, select and retain counsel to represent the class.” Here, Louisiana Sheriffs has selected Bernstein Litowitz to serve as lead counsel. (Motion at 10.) Louisiana Sheriffs represents that Bernstein Litowitz is “among the preeminent securities class action law firms in the country” and served as lead counsel in a case involving “one of the largest recoveries in securities class action history.” (Id.) Because Louisiana Sheriffs has made a “reasonable choice of counsel, ” the Court will “defer to that choice.” See Cohen v. U.S. Dist. Court for N. Dist. of Cal., 586 F.3d 703, 712 (9th Cir. 2009).

         IV. ...


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